Choctaw Traditional Art
Choctaw language, there is no word for art, only "impunna", meaning "skill". Yet, from today's perspective, many of the everyday objects created by the Choctaw ancestors and other Indigenous communities for everyday tasks are considered traditional art, because of the amount of knowledge, skill, and hands-on creativity that goes into making them.
To the right is a clay cooking pot of the style made by Choctaw ancestors at the time of European arrival. It was made from hand-dug clay, mixed with burned, crushed freshwater mussel shells to keep it from cracking. It was shaped by hand into an even, thin, lightweight form. It was fired to between 1000 and 1200 degrees in a open bonfire using only the human senses to gauge the temperature. Now, this thin, light weight vessel is used for cooking foods right on top of the fire, like the blackberry dumplings pictured here. It cooks as efficiently as cast iron, and if properly cared for, it could last for years.
Traditional arts are a big part of what we do at Nan Awaya Farm. They connect us with the land and the community. They are essential in work to revitalize Choctaw traditional culture and food. We've especially focused on learning Choctaw traditional artforms that were sleeping or nearly so and helping our community revitalize them. We collect most of our raw materials ourselves, use traditional techniques, and usually use traditional tools we've made We work in traditional forms without directly copying old designs. Every piece is fully functional. Through our day jobs, we've taught hundreds of traditional arts classes for Choctaw Nation. Now, some of the students have become teachers.
In the galleries below, we'd like to share a few of the traditional art pieces that we make. These pieces are not for sale. We're sharing them here to draw awareness to these Indigenous art forms and because they are an important part of what we do at Nan Awaya Farm.