Na Halupa: Pointy Things
Flintknapping - chipping sharp-edged tools from brittle, glass-like rock - is possibly the oldest human art form. It was done by everyone's ancestors and is part of everyone's heritage. This is an artform has always been a gateway for me. It grabbed my interest when I was in 2nd grade in elementary school. When I eventually learned how to make something that looked like an arrow point, then I wanted to learn how to make an arrow, then a bow, then how to tan the hides for a quiver. I spent thousands of hours practicing these traditional arts as a teenager and finding people who could teach me new things. Flintknapping was also my gateway into working for the Tribe. The first jobs I did were teaching flintknapping at Choctaw Nation Culture Camp and the Labor Day Festival.
The ancient art of Flintknapping begins with the raw material. Landscapes all across what is now the United States produce different types of stone that can be chipped into points and sharp-edged tools. While they all break in basically similar ways to glass, each type has its own colors, textures, and quirks when it comes to shaping it. Each holds unique stories in the way it was formed from the land deep in the geologic past. Each has unique connections with the Indigenous communities who relied on it to meet their cutting edge needs down through the generations. Communities developed their own tools and techniques for shaping stone, which became deeply rooted artistic traditions. The flaking styles represented on ancient stone spear heads are some of the deepest, yet least widely appreciated parts of Tribal traditional cultures.
The raw materials and flaking techniques that I most often use come from the Choctaw homeland and from the different areas of the country that I have lived in. Of course, it's always fun to experiment with other materials and techniques, but these are the ones I always come back to. My stone points are 100% abo, chipped using tools made mostly from materials harvested on Nan Awaya Farm. For blog posts on specific flintwork projects at Nan Awaya Farm, please see here, here, and here.
Pecking and grinding is a second stone-working technique. It's used for shaping coarser-grained rocks to make durable tools, like axe heads. The first formal class that I ever taught was a pecking and grinding session at a traditional skills event when I was 17. A few of my pecked a ground pieces are shown as well.
Use the right arrow on the image below to peruse some of my stone work through the years. Double click if you're browsing on a cell phone.