Shell Carving

Chickasaw Culture Keepers

Dustin Mater is a Chickasaw citizen and accomplished artist in many different mediums, including shell carving. The act of carving a shell and putting all his creativity into it, he says, makes him feel like he's channeling an energy that's larger than himself. In this video, Dustin demonstrates his carving abilities on a gourd; in antiquity, the material with which your necklace was made was reflective of your social status. Most people wore gourd necklaces, but pieces made of shell or copper indicated a higher position in society. The ancestors are singing, Dustin says, in knowing that what they once held near and dear to their hearts is alive and well in the 21st century.