The last voyageurs were a group of recently graduated high school students, five high school teachers, a priest, and a playwright who traveled 3,300 miles over a period of eight months in 1976, trying their hardest to re-create the lifestyles of 17th-century French explorers . . . . The original voyageurs were the riverine version of frontiersmen. They crisscrossed North America in birchbark canoes, mostly transporting furs but also sometimes naturalists, physicians, Jesuit missionaries, and more. The “last voyageurs” weren’t transporting furs, but knowledge.
A conversation with Chip Colwell, the senior curator of anthropology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and author of Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim Native America’s Culture, just published by the University of Chicago Press.