Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Choctaw Pots, The Rest of the Firing Process

Summary of the process above thanks to Dr. Ian Thompson
Choctaw Tribal Archaeologist

In a previous post I took you through part of the firing process for the Choctaw Pots which we experienced thanks to Dr. Ian Thompson and his students. Here is a link to that post.
We were regrettably unable to stay for the whole firing and the unveiling of the pots from the pit the next day as we had to be in Idabel, OK early in the morning. Ian sent us some pictures of the rest of the process which I will share with you on this blog. We left as they were gradually moving the fire ring closer to the pots. If it is done too quickly the pots will crack from the stress of the heat. Gradually the pots are totally covered with burning logs and when they reach the correct heat (learned by experience), I am told the pots will glow red. I saw that with my own work years ago with kilns and I wish I could have seen it again at their firing. I had a wood kiln with a 20 foot chimney and as it approached cone 10 which is a high fire temperature as opposed to pit firing, the flames would surge up from the chimney into the sky and roar. Here are pictures as the pots are being engulfed by flames in the pit.

Glowing Pots

Hot Coals left overnight

The Next Morning When the Excitement of Unloading the Pit can begin.....
The finished, fired pots
Unloading the pots from the pit is very exciting but also fraught with the tension of hoping that your pot has not cracked and that the markings from the smoke will be exciting. It always involves the unknown and can be a disappointment or great pleasure. I must confess that I enjoy the feeling of having so much more control over the finished product when I complete a painting although the creative process involves a tension as I work on a piece not knowing whether in the end I will be pleased and successful with my intention. So still unknown but a bit more of the illusion of control......
Thank you to Dr. Ian Thompson and his students for sharing their process with us.
The Choctaw Traditional Potters’ Expo, hosted by the Choctaw Nation Historic Preservation Department, will be held Saturday, Nov. 27 at the Choctaw RV Park in Durant. The public is invited to attend the expo and meet some of the talented tribal artists who are considered to be on the “ground floor” of revitalizing Choctaw pottery as a living art form.
The potters will be showcasing their artwork, answering questions, and giving talks about their inspiration. Attendees will be able to view and purchase the hand-made Choctaw pottery created from natural Oklahoma clays, and weather permitting, watch a live pottery firing demonstration. 
“The common thread with this expo is that all the clay was hand-dug, the pottery was hand-made, and the pieces were all wood-fired,” according to tribal archaeologist Dr. Ian Thompson, one of the coordinators for the expo.
Various types of pottery will be on display at the expo, most of which are functional pieces such as cooking bowls, eating bowls, bottles, vases and other dishes. 
The Choctaw Traditional Potters’ Expo is from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is open to the public. 
For more information about the event contact the Choctaw Historic Preservation Department at 800-522-6170, ext. 2216.
The Choctaw (alternatively spelt as ChahtaChactasChatoTchaktaChocktaw, and Chactaw) are a Native American people originally from the Southeastern United States (MississippiFloridaAlabama, and Louisiana). The Choctaw language belongs to the Muskogean linguistic group. Noted 20th centuryanthropologist John Swanton suggested that the name was derived from a Choctaw leader.[2] Henry Halbert, a historian, suggests that their name is derived from the Choctaw phrase Hacha hatak (river people).[3]
The Choctaw are descendants of the Mississippian culture and Hopewellian people, who lived throughout the east of the Mississippi River valley and its tributaries. The early Spanish explorers of the 16th century encountered their ancestors.[4] In the 19th century, the Choctaw were known as one of the "Five Civilized Tribes" because they adopted and integrated numerous cultural and technological practices of their European American colonial neighbors. TheChoctaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians are the two primary Choctaw associations today, although smaller Choctaw groups are located in Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas.
During the American Revolution, most Choctaw supported the Thirteen Colonies' bid for independence from the British Crown. The Choctaw and the United States agreed to nine treaties. The last three treaties (Treaty of Doak's Stand, Washington City, and Dancing Rabbit) were designed to deracinate most Choctaw west of the Mississippi River.
U.S. President Andrew Jackson made the Choctaw exile a model of Indian removal making them the first Native Americans to travel on the Trail of Tears. The Choctaw were exiled (to the area now called Oklahoma) because the U.S. desired to expand territory available for settlement to European Americans,[5] wanted to save them from extinction,[6] and wanted to acquire their natural resources.[7]
With ratification in 1831 of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, those Choctaws who chose to stay in the newly formed state of Mississippi were the first major non-European ethnic group to become U.S. citizens.[8][9][10][11] Article 22 sought to put a Choctaw representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.[8] The Choctaw began to seek political representation in the Congress of the United States in 1830.[12] During the Great Irish Famine (1845–1849) nearly twenty years prior to the founding of the Red Cross, the Choctaw were noted for their generosity in providing humanitarian relief for the people of Ireland.[13] During theAmerican Civil War, the Choctaw in both Oklahoma and Mississippi mostly sided with the Confederate States of America.
After the Civil War, the Mississippi Choctaw fell into obscurity. The Choctaw in Oklahoma struggled to maintain a nation. In World War I, they served in the U.S. military as the first Native American codetalkers, using the Choctaw language as a natural code.
Go to this wikipedia link and also to the Choctaw Nation website to learn more about the history and culture of the Choctaw Nation.
And of course it is very important to go to the Choctaw Nation link above and hear about the Nation in their own words.

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