Deer Toe Shakers

Chickasaw Culture Keepers

Expert deer toe shaker craftsman and Chickasaw cultural demonstrator Jesse Lindsey comes from a family with a proud history of traditional craftsmanship. Like Jesse, his uncle also made deer toe shakers and was known throughout the Chickasaw Nation as a master artist. "I can take with me the knowledge that I've learned from him, and maybe share it with my family, if anybody's interested in it," he says of the skills he learned from his uncle. Jesse likes the sound that the deer toe shakers produce because they're the center point of Chickasaw songs and dances. "It's just a different sound that we get from the deer toes that you don't get from the rocks inside of turtles and the cans," he says of the shakers. Jesse explains that when his ancestors would hunt deer, they would use every part of the animal, sharing the meat with family and using the hide for drums, shoes and deer toe shakers. "We'd use all parts of the deer to help our tribe to survive." Keeping the tradition alive and teaching his craft to the next generation of Chickasaws is important to him. "Whenever we do our dances, I feel like my ancestors are with me," Jesse says. "It's who we are, so when I dance, I make these things that go through my hands for other people to see and give them a feeling of going back a long time ago to understand who we really were."