On Monday and Tuesday nights during the month of June, Shako:wi Cultural Center Cultural Activities Coordinator Jessica Farmer and Elwood Webster (Wolf Clan) have been leading classes on how to make traditional crafts and tools at the Oneida Nation’s Cookhouse. The classes are well attended with about twenty attending each week. Current projects include feather fans and bead work using the peyote stitch.

The fan has two main parts: the handle and the frame for the feathers. Elwood demonstrates how to carve the wood for the handle of the fan and then hollow out holes in the frame to hold the feathers while Jessica gives instructions on the tricky bead work that will cover the handle. Once assembled, feathers and hide or fur can be attached to the fan for finishing touches.

Jessica recently completed a fan that has turkey feathers, rabbit fur to cover the frame of the fan and strips of deer hide to hang from the handle. She plans to donate the fan to a charity auction that supports underprivileged Native children.

Since the classes meet several times a month, there’s plenty of time to start a project. “Everyone is at different stages, so it doesn’t matter which week you begin a project,” said Jessica.

McKenzie Williams (Turtle Clan) says she enjoys the different classes. “My kids have done full regalia classes,” she says. “We don’t always finish what we’re working on, but we did finish the baskets class and they came out nice.”

The Shako:wi Cultural Center classes are a great way for Nation Members to reconnect with their culture or learn new craft skills. Classes in July will focus on making faux water drums, fishing spears and bone chokers. For more information about the classes call Jessica at (315) 829-8920.