Traditional Arrows

Chickasaw Culture Keepers

Hunting has always been a part of Chickasaw artisan Elihu Johnson's life. Elihu has hunted with a hand-made bow and arrows since he was five years old. And now, he continues the tradition through making his own arrows. Learning most of his skills from the book "The Traditional Bowyer's Bible," he says he creates arrows to provide his family with food and to pass the tradition on to the next generation. According to Elihu, the reason why his Chickasaw ancestors used the bow and arrow was out of necessity. It was safer to fight and to hunt from a distance in order to stay safe – providing food and security for the tribe and family. Elihu walks through his process of crafting his imperfectly beautiful arrows, from choosing the proper wood, sourcing feathers for fletching and how to create an arrow tip. "I'm very proud of the arrows because I put a piece of myself into all of them, my blood, sweat and tears," says Elihu. He says that passing on the skill and craft of arrow making was of utmost importance to him. Having taught everyone from his children to people around the world, he prides himself in keeping the sacred fire lit and passed on: "That's why I'm here."