NOTES FROM THE ARTIST
Beforehand I would openly and freely talk about ideas I had and ideals and terminology I ran across while I grew into the Native American art field, rediscovered the ancient ways of Caddo Pottery, and developed my pottery. After 5 years I have found out how much what people say affects others, rather it strikes a chord or whether it runs contrary to some peoples beliefs. So I have culled this section down to simple notes about ancient Caddo pottery and my pottery that I think are important to remember.
3-25-2015 One Foot in the Past and One in the Future
After talking to another Native American potter that I think is very influential and honorable it came to my attention that as we start out as Native American artists it is very important that we learn our past and our ancient tradition as a solid base before we can understand our culture enough to move forward with any advances. He said, it is very important to have your back foot solidly planted in the ancient tradition before your front foot can move forward into any new interpretation of that culture. This covers a lot of ground, from burgeoning new Native American artists repetitiously replicating the ancient art in order to learn it and then branching out into new expressions as well portraying the importance of a Native American artist knowing his or her own cultural history and tribal identity.oken in order to preserve others. Which are more important? Of course I feel like the skill and craft of traditional pottery that obviously visually defines our culture is more important than an ideal of roles created in a non-greek ideological society which we are forced to live in. I feel like the roles should bend to sustain our identity. Were not the Caddos skilled in adaptation?
3-25-2015 Last Ancient Caddo Pottery
The last ancient Caddo pot made was in around 1930 when Madeline Hamilton's grandmother was going down to Buggy creek in Binger and collecting clay and making cooking pots. That Whitebead family made the pots up until 1930 when upon arriving home, all of their Caddo pottery was stolen as well as her grandmother's cat-tail basketry, and that is all that was stolen. So it was someone that knew something about Caddo pottery and basketry. The Whitebead family then went and bought modern metal pots and pans, and that was the end of the uninterrupted ancient Caddo pottery and basketry. Madeline said she was 7, when I was talking to her in 2010 she was 87, so that would make the year 1930.
3-25-2015 Caddo Mother and Daughters and the Great Father
I like very much George Sabo III's interpretation of the Mother and Daughters myth story about the creation of the Great Father. To summarize, a mother and her 2 daughters exist. One is pregnant and the other a virgin. The pregnant daughter gets eaten by Caddaja (The horned serpent), but the other daughter escapes and finds a tiny drop of blood from her sister inside an acorn shell. This acorn grows into a tiny boy, her sister's son, and overnight becomes a man. The grandmother gives this boy a bow and arrow and he slays the Caddaja. He then ascends to heaven and becomes the Father (Captain of the Sky). Sabo explains that this Caddo myth story explains the cultural understanding of hierarchy and structure among the Caddo people. He says this shows that, to the Caddo, the matrilineage restores positive order to the cosmos from chaos by providing material and nurturing support to the male descendents to act on their behalf.4-24-2010 Sam Noble Museum and Don Wyckoff
I was extremely fortunate enough to meet with Don Wyckoff today at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. He was about to show and explain to me various pieces of prehistoric Caddo pottery bowls and bottles. It was amazing and a once in a lifetime opportuinity for me. I was truly amazed by how lightweight and how thin-walled the pots and bowls were. They were merely 3 millimeters thick on average. The color ranged from red slip on a buff clay body with fire clouds to bright orange and buff colors, to dark smoke reduced black. The clay bodies almost all exhibited a inordinate amount of river mussel shell tempering, so much so the clay body looked black and white speckled, the shell grains being 1 millimter or less in size. It was awe inspiring and Don Wyckoff was very generous in hosting us and offereing his expertise on the subjects. Many Thanks!.
Don Wyckoff, Chase Earles, and Jeri Redcorn at the SNOMNH.
Jeri Redcorn, Don Wyckoff, and Chase Earles, looking at my pottery.
5-15-2010 Gilcrease Museum and Bob Pickering
Today I was able to meet with the curator of the Gilcrease Museum, Bob Pickering, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was a very exciting and inspirational meeting where we were able to discuss at length methods of the Caddo pottery making by examining ancient pots and noting specific characteristics and many different pots. It was interesting to note how some pots seem to have been made in a "puki" as the Pueblo indians call them (Caddos call them "Kahwis"), and how some pots were most definitely engraved post-firing. Bob talked with me at length about how they were going to try to use new non-invasive techniques to analyze the pots, their makeup, and any engraving and leftover substance details. It was an honor and privilege to be able to again hold more ancient Caddo pots and again feel how almost unnaturally lightweight they were. Some things I also noticed at the Gilcrease were very interesting. I saw a version of the Caddo tripod pot that had 4 legs instead of 3. The main body of the bottle was also tilted and it had a tail, this gave the pot a more effigy look to the pot. I wonder if this was the original form of the tripod bottles before they transformed or an evolution of the tripod bottles. There was another pot where there was an almost realistic representation of a panther that would be considered the underwater panther, where his mouth had layers or lips or ridges around it. These ridges are almost completely abstracted and made into iconography in other more non-representational abstracted effigy pots. It shows me again that Caddo pots might have started more representational, but grew more iconized and more abstract as the tradition developed, as with the snake and its scales being more and more abstracted with the passing of time.
Another thing I noticed there at the Gilcrease is the art and artifacts from the culture in Peru. It was interesting to see how similar some of their pottey decorationd and pottery forms, including their stirrup pots, look very similar to the traditional Caddo pottery. not only that the style of clothing and ceremonial garb, like a full feather cloak, was intriguing to see. Even the Quapaw pottery seems to have a very close resemblence to the pottery of Peru.
Bob Pickering and Chase Earles in the Gilcrease archives.
5-15-2010 Soda Ash and Salt
This might sound crazy, but do you think the Caddos ever used Sodium Carbonate (Soda Ash, Na2C03) in their clay bodies? I've already wondered if salt (Sodium Chloride) might have been included in the clay bodies as the Caddos did process salt, but I'm thinking the reaction inside the clay when fired might be catastrophic, but then, it might also react with the Calcium Carbonate (Calcinated River Shell) as a flux (glass making agent). But I have found that Soda Ash is a huge component in ceramics and glass making dating back many years. I would normally think no way was Soda Ash manufactured, surely it would be too complicated a process, but then I found out it is simply created by boiling the ashes of halophyte (salt-tolerant) plants (glasswort, saltwort,salt grass, cordgrass) which would have grown around saline rivers and salt marshes. Adding Soda Ash to a clay body acts as a flux, making it stronger and more manageable and shrink less. (it could aslo act as a colorant to a certain degree) I don't think the existence of Soda Ash in fired pottery would be immediately obvious to the eye, not even sure it would be detectable under a microscope except as tiny particles of glass. Also Soda Ash would lower the maturing temperature of the clay thereby requiring less heat to produce strong fully matured wares.
5-26-2010 Spiro Mounds
We went to the Spiro mounds in Oklahoma a while back, Saturday April 10th, but I haven't had a chance to post any information or images about it until now. It was cool seeing Jeri's pots there, inspiring to see our contemporary culture being represented. It was also able to see the Spiro replica artifacts. The mounds are in a beautiful area right by the Arkansas River. There was also a very interesting book there about pre-columbian shell engraving that showed antecedents to and evolution of ceramic design patterns. It was a little sad seeing the site underfunded Here are some pics!
The large main mound at a distance. (I don't like what they are named)
Barbie and Mom walking by the large main mound.
A sad little unkept Caddo-style wattle and daub house.
A couple of pages in the Pre-Columbian Shell Engraving books (v. 1 - 6)
A map of major SouthEastern mound and village sites.
Jeri Redcorn's Pots
6-1-2010 Red River Clay and James Dillard
Finally had a chance to go to the Red River and get some clay. We went to the Red River and met up with James Dillard. He knew quite a bit, among other things, about where to look for certain clays in different areas, and he was very generous! I was able to find a good amount of brown clay right off the river bank.
JC Dillard and I after digging for clay.
7-14-2010 Caddo Pottery Class and John Miller
I was invited to attend the first ever Caddo Pottery Class on June 15th, hosted by the Caddo Culture and Preservation department, in Binger, OK, at the Caddo Headquarters. It was taught by John Miller and Jeri Redcorn was also invited. It was exciting! While we were there, John gave a very detailed presentation on his discovery of creating Caddo pottery based on what he saw in the archeological record. He has been replicating pottery for around 30 years now. He brought clay that he had made of White River clay and crushed clam shells, and we all set out to create a pot in his method. It was a lot of fun, but some people were able to start out creating a pot using John's method, and some had a little trouble. Everyone has a good way of making their own pots, and the trick is to find your way. I was able to show one young girl, who was struggling, the way that Jeri made pots and she soon had 2 full bottles built in no time. In all it was an incredible opportunity to learn how to make thinner pots and manage the truly different homemade clay, that I had struggled with at home. being able to witness the culmination of 30 years of experience was a once in a lifetime oppportunity and I was honored to be invited. I came away with 2 pots built using 2 different methods, and we plan to pit fire them in stage 2 of the class.
11-30-2010 Aunt Doris Tonemah Files
Patsy (Patricia Branch) made copies for me of one of Great Aunt Doris Tonemah's notebooks that had tons of information in it. I cannot put it all here , but I will highlight specific portions below that I liked. Please feel free to contact me for more information or for the entire file set. (italics in Aunt Doris's words.)
FRANK WHITEBEAD's COMMENTS TRANSLATED BY IRVIN WHITEBEAD, MARCH 30, 1967 AT ONVIA MILLER'S PLACE.
"Patrick Miller (my father) war danced when Enock Hoag was Chief, at dance ground south of where Paul Beach lives. Enock Hoag use[d] to give the dances on his mother's place, where he lived. He was Chief of Caddo's & was the last Chief of Caddos."
"Caddo Jake was the Chief of Caddos & he passed it on to Enock Hoag. Whitebread was just a Council Man, not Chief."
"He remembered a ghost dance held on FLorence Whitebead's place, east of Lloyd Townwin's (Touinin ancient chief) place, across the bridge. The grass was tall. They danced all night and into the day. He and Pauline Washington (Washington historic chief) were quite young, but they were the ones to keep dancing. They made the older people keep dancing. This is where he learned all ghost dance songs and Pauline learned them too. He says Pauline is little older than him."
"Joe Whitebead did not have ghost dance songs. He followed the peyote way and had peyote songs."
"Old Lady Whitebead was head of a Band of Caddos. They settled at Paul's Valley, OK (near Washita River, now a town). French people gave her the name "Whitebead" because she wore beads. Her daughter had a boy and they gave him the name "Whitebead". This little boy was the father of Frank Whitebead. Caddo Jake gave him this information."
"Patrick Miller's father "Bunt-no [Bun?no]. He was Kin to Frank Whitebead."
"Buntinno [Bun?no] (Gravy) was a good worker. He worked in a flour mill. This is why the name Miller was given to my father."
ONVIA MILLER'S STATEMENT. MAY 13, 1967 AT 1403 JENKINS, NORMAN, OK
"Married Sept 21, 1916. Stayed at Apache, OK with my folks until 1st of October, 1916. Then moved to Anadarko, OK. Pat worked for Mr Pratt at Pratt's Grocery Store. We loved over the store & Mr. Pratt lived downstairs back of the store. Mr. Pratt furnished the gro. & he gave their rooms free. He ate with us. Pat's duty were to deliver the gro's & took care of the Stables & he paid Pat $7.00 per week. Stayed there until 1st of March. 1917. Then moved back to Apache into a tent with a floor in it, about 1/4 mile from my folks. Pat helped Dad farm. In April 1917, Ruth was born pre-mature (6 mos) Buried at where we lived in the tent. Dad made the coffin & Mother lined the coffin.
In July 1917, Came up to Maude's & stayed with her while we dug the cellar on Pat's place. We would dig in AM & until noon & would get too hot. Would then go back to Maude's for dinner, wait until cooler in evening to continue digging the cellar. Harry Reeder helped with hauling the logs for the cellar. This took about 2 weeks. Then went back to Apache & picked cotton.
Then moved back to our place in Jan. 1918. Lived in tent by the cellar. The latter of Jan. moved to Grandma Whitebead's place in a 1 room house, during a very cold spell. Then in Feb. started building our one room house. Dad came up to help build it. Dad bought a cot to sleep on in our tent. Pat & Frank Whitebead had a wagon and hauled the lumber ... from Hinton. Dad paid for lumber beccause this was payment for Pat working for him the past year. Dad & Pat were good carpenters. Had John Allen drilled the well. Dad paid for this & bought bucket and rope for it. Finished the house about last of March. Moved into the house. Bought lumber from Grandpa Blackburn the following year and added the second room. "
SADIE BEDOKA WELLERS STATEMENT 1968
"Sah-Bedoka's (Sadie Bedoka's Mother) mother was part Cherokee and she was sister to Sah-Beun-dee-bah (Beautiful Hair)(Mother of Menden) My father's mother. "
"Seminole woman is mother of James Armstrong, Charley Armstrong, Frances Armstrong, Priddy & Robert Thomas. Buntno [Bun?no] was father of James, Charley, & Frances. (also Patrick Miller)"
1-6-2010 Natchitoches and Sodo Lake
I recently learned what the Caddo word Natchitoches means, commonly pronounced Nah-ke-tish, but the Caddo pronounced it Nash-i-tush. I knew it was the name of the Natchitoches band of the tribe that I am a part of, but the real meaning eluded me. The Caddo would normally name the bands after what they ate. For example, the Anadarko, which means the place of the bees, were the honey eaters. Natchitoches means pawpaw eaters. I didn't even know what a pawpaw was until now. It's a small oblong yellowish fleshy fruit that grows on a small tree in eastern US. Google it!
HOWEVER, Caddo Jake explains (via Aunt Doris's notes from an interview with Caddo Jake, in my archives) that the Caddo came around the lake, now Sodo lake in Louisianna, and were split into bands and named according to what they ate. The Hasinai ate black berries, so they were called the Nebedache. The Yatasi ate pawpaws, so they were called the PawPaw People. The Kadohodacho ate Bumble bee honey, so they were called the Na-Dako (Anadarko). He goes on to say that the Natchitoches, (he calls them Nacicits) Meant: "Sail the color of red ochre." Also that Lake Sodo, LA, is from the Caddo word Tso-to, which means "Water thrown up int othe drifts along the shore by a wind."
1-24-2011 Tracy Newkumet Burrows and baby BahNoos's moccasins
I traded Tracy Newkumet Burrows for a pair of little Caddo baby moccasins over the weekend! I traded her my Bahtenahwin Keno pot for them. She made them with some of her very old materials from her family in the colors that will match Elizabeth's, and with a little butterfly on the toe for BahNoos. That is a regular sandwich bag. Click for a larger image.
The weekend of March 5 my family and I were able to visit the new Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, OK. I had never been to Sulphur before and didn't know it was quite literally named after the sulphur springs that were there and very obvious from the smell. Hah, I do not know how people stand it. But the Culural Center was very nice! We toured the museum section, and saw the recreation on the Chickasaw village. They also had Chickasaw artists there creating and selling their wares. It was interesting to note that one of the artists had a turlte shell rattle there with 2 holes in the back of the shell much like the shell I found on my property with only 2 small identical holes in the back. Must have been a rattle! The gift shop had many beautiful pots by Joanna Underwood, and some red and black Chickasaw gar fish design Pendleton blankets.
Recreation of Chickasaw village.
Turkey feather robe much like the Caddo ceremonial leaders would wear during the SECC period.
3-16-2011 Caddo Festival OHC
I attended and displayed my pottery at the Caddo Festival and Caddo Ceramics Symposium this last weekend of March 12th. I wanted to also attend the Caddo Pottery class put on by Jeri Redcorn Thursday and Friday at the Norman, OK SNOMNH, but was unable to because of work. Jeri helped put together quite a festival where a panel was able to discuss topics about Caddo Pottery, and the possibility of renaming the archaeolgical typologies. I put forth the idea that the Belcher Engraved type should most likely be named after the Yatasi band of the Caddo that was where the Belcher types originated. There were so many Caddo artists there , the turnout was incredible and the work was beautiful. I proposed that we should look into having an annual Caddo Festival or Expo where we display Caddo art and artists. The symposium was followed by a dance, also with a very nice turn out!
Travis and Phil Cross.
Dancing in front of the capital.
Brenda Shemayme Edwards.
3-16-2011 Oklahoma History Center
While I was at the Oklahoma History Center for the Caddo Festival I noticed an image in the Caddo Exhibit that I really liked, but I also thought it hard to read as far as its message. It seems to imply that these bands are like branches on a tree and that each band originated from a central group or overall organization, but it is not clear in its organization or pattern. I wonder if anyone really knows how these bands were created, evolved, and formed. I am part of the Yatasi, Nebedache, Natchitoches, and Kadohadacho bands. Click on the image for a larger view.
3-22-2011 Julia Edge, Grandaughter of Caddo Chief George Washington
Found an old picture of Julia Edge that I thought was cool. She was the daughter of Pauline Washington, who was the granddaughter of Caddo Chief George Washington. Julia Edge is the one that named me KahWinHut the Caddo way.
Last weekend, March 25th - 27th I was fortunate enough to attend the 53rd Annual Caddo Conference 2011 in Fort Smith, AR. My wife and I had a great time! It was a lot of fun. We heard many presentations about Caddo sites, and the proposal of formal organization of the Caddo Conference. Fill out your membership forms, hehe. I also made a presentation on the IACB and the IACA as it pertains to Caddo pottery and arts. A sweet couple from Texas bought one of my pots, and I was able to talk to many different people about artistic and cultural opportunities. It was great! Kim Penrod has many more pictures of the event and the dance that followed on the Caddo Heritage Museum Facebook page. George Sabo was also kind enough to give us a tour of the local Cavanaugh Caddo Mound.
Fore: Donna Spaudling. To the right: Brenda Edwards. In the back: Jeri Redcorn.
The Drum Circle with Phil Cross and Travis.
George Sabo leads us out to the Cavanaugh Mound.
66-14-2011 Red Earth 2011
For the first time I applied for the Red Earth Arts competition on the 25th Silver Anniversary of Red Earth and I wont 3rd Place in pottery! It was definitely a lot of fun and a great experience. I also met a lot of people! I can't wait to do it again next year. Below are pictures of my winning pot, Sunah, "silver" and the Caddo Co-op group I entered the market with!
LtoR: Chase Earles, Thompson Williams, Jeri Redcorn, Yonovea Hawkins.
8-20-2011 Museum of the Red River
We were fortunate enough to be able to travel down to Idabel, OK to the Museum of the Red River and meet with Daniel Vicks. He took us back to the collections storage and let me hold and look at our ancient Caddo pottery up close and personal. It was amazing being able to feel and see the pottery this close. Special thanks to Daniel Vick for graciously showing us the Museum of the Red River's Caddo Pottery collection up close! The MOTRR was really nice, they had a special exhibit of the Mata Ortiz and especially their inspiration, the Casas Grandes culture pottery.
Daniel Vick. Museum of the Red River.
I won 1st place in the Chickasaw's Southeast Art Market and Show (SEASAM) this last weekend, October 1st, in miniature pottery for Kah-us Kah-dee, and I also won 2nd place in pottery for Buskanoo! It's always fun going to the awards ceremony and the Art market, but the tent was a little cold this year, haha.
10-9-2011 Tools I use to make a pot
I put on a class at the Museum of the Red River in Idabel, just some pics from the class, and the tools I use to make a pot.
I won the Kathleen Everett Upshaw Award (2nd over all categories) for my pot TahNahHah and 3rd place in contemporary pottery for my tripod pot Buskanoo. It was a wonderful time at the show this year. Sold around 9 pots! (half my inventory) The very traditional pots were the first ones to go! Now I'm going to be in a bind for the Indian Market coming up in Santa Fe August 15-20th! I got to meet Wes Studi as he looked at my pots! My pottery is now available in the Red Earth Art Gallery downtown Oklahoma City.
9-14-2012 Santa Fe Indian Market 1st Place
I never got around to announcing my award in the 91st Annual Indian Market in Santa Fe. With my pot, Tah-nah-hah, I was able to win 1st place in Traditional Woodlands pottery! I found out it is not only an honor to be accepted into the Indian Market, but it was exceptional being awarded anything at all! I didn't attend the awards ceremony because I felt surely I wouldn't win anything my first time there. I found out later that my pot actually caused quite a buzz among the attendees being new and Southeastern design. I hope this helps as one small step towards growing awareness of the Southeastern and Caddo arts. The Market was awesome, and it being my very first time there, it was actually quite overwhelming. The very first day I sold Tah-nah-hah and 4 other pots very quickly. I don't think I was fully prepared! It was a great time though and the weather was beautiful. I met a lot of great people and found out about a lot more shows and museums like the Cherokee Art Market, and the Cahokia Mounds!
11-03-2012 First Annual Caddo Pitfire
We conducted the First Annual Caddo Pitifre this weekend and it was a success! We had several people bring their own pottery to fire and most of them made it through the firing! ! There are more pictures available on the firing page and even more information available on my Caddo pottery facebook page in the albums! (Edit 3-25-2015) Looking back at this post I think it is funny but sad that I called it the "First Annual" because it didn't become "Annual" because the tribe hit a rough patch with the tribal government and pretty much everything shut down in Binger. Maybe one day we can pick this up again.
1-9-2013 SWAIA, Pueblo Artists, and Maintaining the Old Ways
I thought this was a very special set of videos put together by SWAIA and Indian Market about what they consider is traditional in Native American pottery. They have some of the noteworthy and well known Native American potters explain their stories breifly about traditional potterymaking and even some young new artists. They talk about the importance of maintaining the true old ways of making your own clay, temper, pigments, and continuing the traditional firing methods.
Potters Convocation Video 1 of 9
Potters Convocation Video 2 of 9
Potters Convocation Video 3 of 9
Potters Convocation Video 4 of 9
Potters Convocation Video 5 of 9
Potters Convocation Video 6 of 9
Potters Convocation Video 7 of 9
Potters Convocation Video 8 of 9
Potters Convocation Video 9 of 9
Traditional Pottery is the original foundation of SWAIA and the Indian Market.
3-26-2013 ECU Traditiona Caddo Pottery Class
The Traditional Caddo pottery class I taught at East Central University turned out great! We had a small turnout, a couple of Chickasaws, including Dixie Brewer. Everyone learned a lot about traditional pottery making and made pieces to pit-fire. I was very impressed with the quality of pots! It was a little too cold for a pit-fire this time of year, but we made do!