Shell Carving

Chickasaw Culture Keepers

Shell carving has been a part of tribal cultures for thousands of years. And Chickasaw shell carver Howard Thompson is doing his part in keeping this honored tradition alive. Using modern tools, Howard sands, sketches, carves and inks the designs on the shells. But what truly sparks his passion for shell carving is connecting to his Chickasaw ancestors. "The lightning whelk shell happens to spin in the direction when we dance during our traditional dances," says Howard. "I look at it as it has a spiritual connection with our ancestors because it connects with our dance." Howard is proud to make something for other Chickasaws that can help connect them with their ancestors as well. As he hones his craft, Howard hopes that the Chickasaw Nation's cultural renaissance continues to thrive.