Hands, Making, Sacred Creation


Week 13 Readings

Chapman, B. J. and J. M. Adovasio. “Textile and Basketry Impressions from Icehouse Bottom, Tennessee.” American Antiquity. 42 (4): 1977. 620-25.

–          Discussion about recovered items found at the Icehouse Bottom archaeological excavation site, 1973 (620):

  • Early and Middle Archaic occupations are found; evidence lies in the strata in which deposits of artifacts, such as projectile points, are recovered, revealing “separate cultural horizons” (i.e. different periods of time for the culture(s) from whom these items were deposited).
  • Cultural features were recorded, including fired areas on which “textile and basketry impressions were observed.”
    • These fired areas were “small, circular to oval, hard-fired zones” that served as hearths which “were produced by firing the surface of a prepared patch of clay.”

–          Textiles and basketry (623):

  • Three subclasses of basketry: twining, coiling and plaiting.
    • Twining is the only subclass found at this site.
    • “Twining techniques may be employed to produce containers, mats, bags, as well as fish traps, cradles, nets, clothing, and other basketry forms.”

–          Discussion of Type I and Type II specimens (622-24):

Type I - Knotted Looping
Type I – Knotted Looping
Type II -
Type II –  Open Simple Twining, Z Twist Wefts
  • Functions of items remain speculative, yet they could have been used as portable items (624).
  • Specimens appear to be made out of plant fiber; other properties are unidentifiable at this point (624).
  • The techniques employed to create these specimens show advanced stages in development and manufacture (624).


Howard, James H. “They Worship the Underwater Panther: A Prairie Potowatomi Bundle Ceremony.” Southwestern Journal of Antrhopology.  16 (2): 1960. 217-24.

–          An account of witnessing and observing the Prairie Potowatomi Bundle Ceremony which honors the mythical creature called Námbi-zà (in Potawatomi), the “Underwater Panther” (in English) (217).

  • “The ceremony involved the opening of a sacred bundle in the keeping of James Kagmega, a prominent council member and ritualist of the band.”
    • James Kagmega is from the Bear clan, keeper/owner of the bundle, and a priest of its ritual (218).
    • The following is an excerpt of this article, regarding Kagmega’s interpretation of the philosophy of the Underwater Panther worship in the Potowatomi ritual:
      • “We are taught that there is continual warfare between the Powers Above (Thun- derbirds and their bird allies) and the Powers Below (Underwater Panthers and their snake and fish allies). Their conflicts affect the lives of the different Indian tribes here on the earth. When they are quiet and at peace, the Indians are peaceful too. When there is battle in the heavens and at the bottom of the waters, then there is warfare among mankind too… At least that’s the way it was in the days before the White men came, before the Great Peace [(i.e. the end of inter- tribal warfare and the introduction of the Dream dance or Drum religion, which teaches inter-tribal amity)]” (218-19).

–          The Underwater Panther is generally described (217):

  • “The creature… of an enormous size, with short yellow fur (or brassy scales), a long panther-like tail, and horns like a bull.”
  • Although seen as an evil creature, it is feared and respected by all groups who recognize the creature (218).

–          A detailed description of the ceremony is recorded, including the following items/rituals (219-22):

  • Furnishings in the canvas covered lodge consisted of carpeting, floor mats and other traditional floor matting.
  • A great feast including various kinds of food.
  • Prayers and songs offered for the creature and gifts (i.e. food).
  • Dancing and drumming.
"Fig. 2 Drawing of the Underwater Panther, after the pyrographed representation on Kag- mega's drum (221)."
“Fig. 2 Drawing of the Underwater Panther, after the pyrographed representation on Kag- mega’s drum” (221).

–          The ceremony and the opening of the bundle had a multiple purpose (222):

  • “The Underwater Panther would be honoured and grant his blessings to the members of the tribe; the contents of the bundle would be ceremonially renewed and purified; and the assembled participants would receive benefit in the form of good health and prosperity.”


I really enjoyed the second reading. It is interesting to hear about what is important to each culture and also to learn the meanings behind certain rituals, words, names and so on. In many ways this can relate to weaving. Why do we weave? What is the purpose? What meaning does it hold for us?



Solar Dyeing Workshop in Vancouver

I am really excited about this.


Dye your own wool with natural materials from the Means of Production Garden.

Come learn about the many locally available dye plants in the community garden, and pick up some basic principles on natural dyeing so that you can learn to dye at home with plants from your own garden.

Dye materials and wool provided. BYOJ (Bring your own Jar).

I hope to see some of you at the event!

John Feodorov

John Feodorov

“A major theme in my work is the way Native Americans are still being portrayed, stereotyped, and studied in contemporary America. I’ve read that the Navajo Nation is the most-studied group of people on Earth. I don’t know whether to be proud or disgusted.”

Watch the video! He’s really cool.