BULL BOAT

What is a bullboat?

To move around on water the Native Americans of the Plains developed a round-framed, tub-like boat that allowed them to navigate even shallow waters, on the many rivers and lakes of the midwest.

How was a bullboat made?

The Bull Boat was constructed from buffalo hide and tree branches. The hide, with the animal's hair intact, was soaked in water and then stretched around cottonwood or box elder branches bent into a hoop formation and tied. The boat was usually made with the hair facing inward. As the hide dried, it would naturally draw tight to the frame.

How was a bullboat moved?

An oar was carved out of wood. Due to its round shape and lack of a keel, the bullboat was paddled from the front.

The bullboat was great was crossing rivers and carrying cargo. After a successful hunt, people would load the bullboats with dried meat and send them back to their villages downstream on the current of the river. Sometimes as many as 20 bullboats would be lashed together and sent down the river. The people would walk along the shore and follow them.