Ktapif oowe

Ktapif oowe


Oblique Fingerweaving

We know that the earliest examples such as sashes, garters bags, and straps that were collected from the Ohio River Valley American Indian communities such as the Shawnee were all done in this technique. Almost all those examples date to the 18th century, but prior to contact we have examples of material or cloth that were made using the same technique. The items come from excavations in the Ohio River Valley rock shelters. The materials that those items were made of were most likely from dogbane, milkweed, stinging nettles, or possibly basswood bark.

No one really knows exactly when items began to be made out of wool and beads. But apparently it was after European contact. Wool yarn along with the white beads were both listed together on their trade lists starting from the mid 18th century. And the colors of the colors are blue, red, black, yellow, and green were often found on trade lists. And the original items collected had these same colors. 



Both the men and women wore most of these items. However only the men would have worn shot bags. That was because they would carry all of the equipment they needed for their guns. The women did not wear shot bags and there was no equivalent. The straps were mainly used for gun powdered horns, worn by the men. Men and women both wore waist sashes but differently. The men wore them over the top of their shirt or coats, women wore them to pull up their wrap skirts and the top was folded down over them making them unseen. 

The designs are related a lot of times to creation stories. There's no one real design that is only used by a particular tribe or clan. That is evident in the fact that we see similar designs collected from different tribes or regions. Designs that are common are zigzag lines that can represent lightning, the diamonds that can represent the diamondback rattlesnake, and the upper and lower world design that represents balance.

Shannon Turner wants to continue on the tradition of oblique fingerweaving, having taught workshops in the past for the Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center, and states that, “Yes, unfortunately there's not many American Indian women or men who are finger weaving with this technique. I’ve been told there's a lady from the Cherokee Nation who finger weaves in this style, but I’ve never met her. But what I really hope to see is more interest from the Shawnee community to revitalize the style of finger weaving and use it to create items for use at the ceremonial grounds.”

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