Walt Grayson headshot
By Walt Grayson
January 2023

Time flies like a flash.

Most of the time, time just drifts by with no particular urgency. Or at least it seems like it until you hit a landmark, like a birthday or New Years. Then, all of a sudden, time seems to have zipped past.

A few months back I was at the Two Mississippi Museums speaking to a group of teachers during their lunch break at an all-day seminar, and ran into my friend at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Brother Rogers. He told me they had just opened the newly refreshed exhibit of the 500-year-old dugout canoe in the history museum, and that I needed to come take a look at it. They did a great job of showcasing the canoe. The lighting is much better, and the environment has improved.

Brother said that they had finished it just in time for the 5th anniversary celebration of the opening of the Two Mississippi Museums. That’s what struck me. That the museums have been open for five years! I remembered coming down and doing stories the few months prior, and then, during the grand opening. It didn’t seem like it happened yesterday, necessarily, but it didn’t seem like that had been five years ago, either.

Now, I can write about either lamenting the passing of time or we can talk about our pre-history, spring-boarding off of the canoe.

Let’s do the history. Time is going to pass, anyway. Not much else to say about it. But our history is always fascinating.

The canoe was found by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers while they were dredging in the Delta in Steel Bayou near Swan Lake in Washington County. I forget what year — a couple of decades ago at least. Apparently, the canoe had been buried in mud for much of its lifetime — it is in good shape. Wooden artifacts like that won’t deteriorate in environments like mud because oxygen can’t get to them.

I grew up in the Delta around Indian mounds and other reminders of our Native American heritage. At grandmother’s house in Itawamba County, we regularly found arrow heads in the garden after it was plowed in spring. Not so much, anymore. But enough back when I was a kid for me to realize that people had been here for a long time before us.

It was only after doing television stories for “Mississippi Roads” and for whichever commercial station I was working for at the time that I found out how long people have been here.

We have Native American mounds older than the Pyramids here in Mississippi.

Now, when you think that some of our predecessors on the soil of what we call our state have been here for thousands and thousands of years (the date being pushed back all the time), then the five years of the Two Mississippi Museums is just a flash.

Quote from Philip Martin in front of canoe: "Our identity...continues from generation to generation...As Choctaw people we have lived in present day Mississippi...since the times before history was even recorded."
Category: Mississippi Seen
The Swan Lake Canoe at the Two Mississippi Museums was build around the time Hernando DeSoto arrived in Mississippi in the early ot mid 1500s. The canoe is 25 and half feet long and was chopped from a single bald cypress tree.

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