Gallery of Traditional Art
Traditional arts are functional objects made by Indigenous communities through traditions passed down from time immemorial. These objects are nearly always made from natural materials harvested from the landscapes that community lives on. More than just beautiful objects, traditional arts blend technology, function, aesthetic, and relationships.
At Nan Awaya, we work in a number of deep, land-based traditional arts. For example, the clay cooking pot in this photo is made in the style that was used by Choctaw ancestors in the 1600s. It was made from hand-dug clay from the Choctaw homeland, 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 will last for years. It connects with the Choctaw homeland and 100 generations of Choctaw potters.
Traditional arts have always been a part of our lives (especially for Ian). At Nan Awaya Farm, we make and use objects of traditional art in our efforts to revitalize Indigenous Choctaw culture. We collect or grow most of our raw materials on-farm. We work in ancestral Choctaw techniques and styles without directly copying old designs. Every piece is fully functional. Through our day jobs, we've taught hundreds of traditional arts classes in the community for Choctaw Nation and have worked for years to revitalize a number of sleeping traditional arts. Now, some of the students have become teachers.
In the galleries below, we'd like to share a few of the traditional arts that we make. These pieces are not for sale. We're sharing them here to draw awareness to these art forms.