By Morgan Taylor, Reporter
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma- Community members of Muskogee came together to hold a weekend long cultural activity event on May 14-16. The cultural activity was primitive bow making using black locust wood.
Muscogee citizen Britteny Cuevas coordinated the event by gathering the people and resources including the wood.
Cuevas is an advocate for cultural wellness and often coordinates free events with other local Native Americans for cultural education.
“This was a free event held by myself and the community, not any particular tribe but just those who wanted to come together,” Cuevas states.
Special guest elder, Victor Wildcat was demonstrating how to make the bows.
“We actually went out on the Verdigris River to pick out the trees, cut it down on the new moon and I scheduled a team to split the trees and delivered them to the site,” Cuevas explained. “So we are actually getting the whole tree and splitting them up.”
Cuevas had provided drawknives for safety measures to use in the making of the bow.
“During that time they made their own tools out of flint rocks and other resources that are similar to tools we have today and even then I believe they may have had more advanced technology than we know about today,” Cuevas said.
According to Cuevas, the group was making longbows, which predates the short-bow centuries before removal.
“It wasn’t just the Muscogee, Cherokees, Seminoles, (Y)uchee, or any specific tribe but almost all tribes that used this longbow,” Cuevas claims. “We think about hunting naturally but back then there were wildcats, bears, and other animals that they might have needed to use the bows for protection.”
The first day, May 14, was spent using the drawknife to attempt to get to the “one-grain” Cuevas said. “That’s the face of your bow and it’s the most tedious part.”
“The bonding with the wood and using your drawknife and finding that one-grain is an experience, you learn to read the wood.”
This process could take a day or two, along with shaping the bow.
Once down to the one-grain, the next step is to shape the bow, “This is the most important part, you can’t mess up on this part.” Cuevas said.
After getting the shape of the bow, it is stringed with sinew string, which is an imitation of deer intestines. Cuevas claims the string is an imitation of what would have been used during the era of the woodland tribes for bow making.
At the end of the long process, participants created a handmade longbow.
Some participants claimed they would use bows for practice while others claimed they use it as decoration in their homes.
Cuevas has educated herself and gained a network of elders who teach her things that she in turn teaches others.
“I wasn’t raised traditionally but I’ve learned that if you are really trying elders will help you.”
As of right now, Cuevas has no events scheduled but looks forward to holding more cultural activity events soon.