Reconstruction of a Yamana Bark Canoe

A "Yamana" bark canoe was built by us in 1995, based on etnographic and historical data that we had accumulated on the subject. VIDEO

The canoes were used by these "nomadic canoeists" in an area stretching southward from the Beagle Channel, otherwise known as Cape Horn.

It was also used by their neighbours, the "alacalufes" in the vicinity of the Straight of Magellan.

A different type of vessel, called a "Dalca", made of a different type of wood, was used towards the North, along the Pacific coast.

The last bark canoes seen in the first decade of the XXth century, in Estancia Harberton.

The purpose of our project was to recuperate the techniques used to build this type of canoe and the way the bark was handled. We learned to use the tools used by the Yamana to strip the bark from the trees and later soften it in order to give it is characteristic shape and stitch the different parts together. Weeds and algae were used wherever needed to seal joints.

Navigation was very interesting, as were able to confirm with just how much ease this craft could slide over the algae that one would typically have to travel through in this region. However, it was quite evident that this vessel was rather fragile and it was for this reason that usually one or two of these canoes would be built each year, depending on the need the Yamana might have for them.

The size of these canoes also varied, in accordance to the needs of each family, as it was customary for the whole family to travel together. The results of this investigations have been published in a book titled "Los Yamana, primera reconstrucción de una canoa de corteza", edited by the Maritime Museum.

At present, we are working on the construction of a larger canoe and will test its navigability in harsher conditions.

The project requires funding and people willing to work for pleasure of navigating.


"Yamana" bark canoe, displayed in one of the rooms of the Maritime Museum of Ushuaia




Exhibition brochure