Mother Earth’s Bounty
Artist Leads Class on Birch Bark Rattles
Elwood Webster (Wolf Clan) was more than eager to showcase his artistry. The 73-year-old artist lead a class of 13 interested Oneida Indian Nation Elders program participants in the art of making traditional rattles.
Such art is crafted right from Mother Earth’s bounty – wood, bark, sinew, glue, and in some cases animal bone, horn and shell. For this class he focused on birch bark, utilizing wood glue since he did not have time to make glue from scratch.
“All the art that I do is traditional art. That’s what I do,” Elwood explained. “I’ve been doing this ever since I was a little kid. Everything that I do at the wood shop here, everything that I do, I make, is all traditional art. It’s wearable art.”
VIDEO: Elwood talks about tradition.
Such rattles would be used for ceremonies and festivities, and would accompany dancers and singers.
Elwood is mostly self-taught when it comes to art and has completed pieces in silver, carved animal bone and stone, and more. He is most proud knowing that those he taught today will pass down what they learn to family members and, in turn, to future generations.
VIDEO: Elwood talks about materials used in making rattles.
“I’m teaching the members this is the way it has to be done. This is the way I was taught. It’s up to you now to pass this on. I do know that I am passing on everything because that’s what we’re supposed to do. (We are to) Teach them, to show them, everything that has to be done.”
The Oneida Indian Nation Elders program is open to Nation Members and other American Indian clients of the Health Center. A weekday meal is served to participants and a variety of activities are planned to help improve the lives of this treasured group.
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