Porcupine Quillwork

Chickasaw Culture Keepers

As a traditional artist, Eric Smith never limits himself to one medium and porcupine quillwork is just one of the uniquely American Indian crafts he has mastered. "When you honor the porcupine by taking his quills and turning it into something beautiful, they live on forever through our work," he says. "Porcupine quillwork was something that I had always been interested in, but I couldn't find anybody that knew how to do it. So I started experimenting, and just like beadwork, porcupine quillwork utilizes many different techniques." Traditionally, the handmade adornment was found among the tribes of the Great Plains, adorning teepees, moccasins and bags. "When we do these ancient skills and we do the things that our ancestors did, there's something down in our ancient DNA that just rises up and it's so powerful," he explains. "There's a feeling of camaraderie. There's a feeling of the presence of people from the past that are right there with us."