A grandfather's love of his native culture led to a grandson developing a lifelong passion. In memory of his late grandfather, Austin Dennis, Chickasaw citizen Eric Smith states on his website that "without your knowledge and love of our culture, this site would not be here today."
Smith is a bow maker, a modern artisan paying homage to a truly ancient craft. It's one he has practiced over many years through the deep knowledge passed down from older generations. Every bow he makes is fully functional and is taken directly from historical designs; his bows and arrows take on spirits of their own, he says, each boasting individual elements and quirks.
It's that attention to detail and cultural accuracy that made some rather high-profile individuals take notice. Producers of the Academy Award-winning film The Revenant approached Smith for his expertise, and in just three weeks, he and his apprentice created 35 bows and 300 arrows for the project, set in the wild frontier of the 1820s. Smith says he was incredibly pleased by the film's success, and notes that it depicted the Plains Indian culture in a beautiful way.
Whenever he goes into the woods to gather materials, he says he always wonders who had been there before him. As a bow maker, he's continuing the traditions of Chickasaws over thousands of years. And now, his work and representation of the Chickasaw Nation is forever captured for the world.
For more, watch Eric Smith in the April 1, 2016 episode of CNTV News.