365 Days of Earrings

Friday, October 7, 2011

A day when my heart leaps like a deer

Michael Sottosanti, the "Fake Indian Guy" visited my 3rd grade today. At the end of the day, each child left with an arrowhead that s/he had helped to knap.

Our day began with Michael, wearing deerskin clothing that he made from a deer he shot, surrounded by Indian crafts--baskets made of river cane, of white oak, of bark; bows and arrows; a blow pipe and dart; stone, bone, and wooden tools; fire-making materials, and so on and on. 

After Michael shared his creations and answered a wide array of questions, making and shooting a thistle blow dart as he talked, then starting a friction fire--much to the delight of the children--half the group set to work knapping arrowheads of flint and jasper. Hard work, and not an easy skill to master. But with effort and diligence, a treaure can be made.

I didn't get a photo of the arrowheads we made today. But if I had, it would look something like this image that I found on the web. Michael and the children finished 14 this morning--4 or 5 broke and new ones replaced them. While those children knapped, the other half of the class made miniature spirit shields made of deer hide.

 They stretched the soaked hide, traced templates, cut the hide, tied it onto a brass ring, and clipped it while it dried. Then they designed patterns to decorate the shields once they dry.

The afternoon knappers somehow made two or three arrowheads each. Whew! The each have one that looks perfect; the rest are pure results of their own effort.

Forbes' howling wolf spirit shield design
Olivia's turtle spirit shield design

For this amazing day, I wore my leaping deer earrings, a pair that I bought a few years ago at the Delaplane Strawberry Festival. Spending a day with Michael always makes me admire the ingenuity of our ancestors who had to master such a variety of skills in order to survive. And to pass those skills on to their children. Michael has spent his lifetime mastering those same skills, and sharing them with children.

I love this day. My heart leaps like the deer that dangle from my ears. The piece of jasper that Michael handed me this morning remins unknapped. Like those I've brought home each year for the past 15 years. Maybe one day I'll make an arrowhead for myself.

1 comment:

Phoebe said...

Yay! The Indian man! I was just talking the other day about his son's "Consider me native" essay. I often find myself discussing diversity, particularly the concept of diversity of thought, on U of R's campus, and that essay is always at the forefront of my mind. Anyways, I remember when Michael visited my class in fourth grade and I made that spirit drum. I'm so glad he still comes so often! Love you, mama!