Choctaw Traditional Arts
To the right is a traditional Choctaw clay cooking pot. 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 a specific style that was being used by Choctaw people at the time of European contact. 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.
Choctaw traditional art comes out of a relationship with the land that goes back 500 generations. This art is beautiful, functional, and sustainable, and it connects inseparably with Choctaw traditional culture, language, community, and food. Ian and Amy make traditional pottery like the vessel pictured, stone arrowheads, knife blades, ground stone axes, bows, arrows, blowguns, traditional buckskin, and traditional clothing. Every piece is made from native raw materials, created using traditional techniques, and made in period-specific styles. Every piece is fully functional and one of a kind. Partnering with Choctaw Nation, they have given hundreds of presentations, demonstrations, and traditional arts classes for Choctaw people across the country. Now, some of the students have become teachers.
Like food, traditional arts are one of our most direct connections with the landscape. Continuing to work with the community to revitalize sleeping Choctaw traditional arts is part of the mission of the Nan Awaya Heritage Farmstead.