From pottery and flute-making to weaving and beading, experience the rich heritage of crafting in the Chickasaw Nation. In the videos below, discover the creative traditions that have brought generations of Chickasaws together.
Chickasaw bow maker Elihu Johnson credits the hands of Chickasaw warriors and their prowess with the bow and arrow as a deciding factor in the Nation's triumph over Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. Johnson is keeping his ancestors' legacy alive when he hand-makes bows today. Any tree that produces a fruit or nut can make a bow, he says, but he personally prefers bodark or black locust wood because both are virtually rot-resistant and are strong and flexible. "I have the utmost respect [for the trees I cut down] because I'm harvesting a living thing," Johnson says. "When the bow is in my hands, it's alive again. It's almost a religious experience."