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Na Halupa: Pointy Things

Flintknapping - chipping sharp-edged tools from brittle, glass-like rock - is my first love in the traditional arts.  My uncle got me started chipping stone points when I was in second grade- this is what brought me into culture.  The first jobs I did for Choctaw Nation were teaching flintknapping classes for Tribal youth.  I paid for my last semester of college tuition chipping points.

Stone tools can be beautiful, but their meaning goes so much deeper than that.  The old projectile points are all made in particular styles that connect with specific sets of tools, specific flaking techniques, specific local kinds of stone, and specific Indigenous communities that developed and passed these traditions down in their home areas for generations.  As such, they are one of the deepest, tangible pieces of traditional culture.

 The creation of every chipped stone point is an artistic performance. Drawing on tradition, technical skill and aesthetic, the flintknapper puts a part of himself into every point.  The stone that these pieces are made from is very resistant to the effects of time. Unlike a music concert that vanishes on the wind, the stone records the artistic performance that created it in the form of flake scars that will be around for hundreds of thousands of years. 

Fastened onto the ends of spears and arrows, stone points have featured prominently countless gripping human experiences - from hunting to keep loved ones fed, to war. Over time, the people who lived these experiences have passed on from this earth, but the stone remains to tell its part of their stories.

The core of my flintknapping work comes from the stones and flaking styles used by Choctaw ancestors in the homeland.  I also do some work in the lithic traditions of the different places I've lived including the eastern Plains and New Mexico. I only use traditional tools to chip stone.  Most of my tools are made from wood, antler, and bone, harvested on our 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. 

 

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.

Tallahatta.jpg

Gallery 

Pottery copy.jpg
Hidework.jpg
Hunting copy.jpg
Engraving copy.jpg
Glass.jpg
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