Read more about the long bow project on our website, www.okffa.org.
Preserving a Cherokee Tradition
At Fort Gibson High School, a Native American
craftsman teaches FFA members to build
Cherokee long bows as part of a Natural
Resources unit in their Ag Ed class. Oklahoma
Outlook interviewed Brian Craig, one of the Ag
teachers at Fort Gibson and Victor Wildcat, the
Cherokee long bow resource person. We also
spoke with four of the students who had partici-pated
in the program.
They start with just raw wood.
Mr. Wildcat: It was cut during the new moon and I
always get it on a high hill.
Why is that?
Mr. Wildcat: Well, for the drainage, so the grains are
going to be tighter. The tighter the grains, the faster the
Mr. Craig: The better your bow is.
Those two things, the moon and the high hill,
that’s something that Cherokees have known for
hundreds of years, just from being in nature.
Mr. Wildcat: As Native Americans, we do everything
according to the new moon. It will last a lifetime.
Getting the right wood at the right time is just
the first step in the procedure. Students are
given logs, out of which they will cut their own
bow. It’s a complicated process that involves
understanding the grain of the wood and then
shaving off just a little at a time until the bow
begins to take shape.
Here’s how Mr. Craig describes the purpose of the
To have a project (the students) can work with their
hands, get them out of the classroom every now and then
and teach them how to start and finish something. That’s
really important in life. This is a great project to teach
them how to start and finish because when they’re done
with it, they actually have something they can take home.
Continued on page H