Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 18, 2018

Knappers strive to keep the connection alive

Craft serves as a link to Native American days
Sep 12, 2017
Photo by: Brooks Taylor No Native American-themed event is complete without a tee-pee and there was one on display at the Oakland Mills South Shore campground last weekend.

By Brooks Taylor, Mt. Pleasant News


Like 19 fellow exhibitors, Tom Harvey of Waukee came to the annual Skunk River Knap-In last weekend at Oakland Mills hoping to sell some of his arrowheads and Native American artifacts.

For Harvey that wasn’t the most important aspect of his 16th visit to the event. “If you want to sell, this is a good place to sell,” Harvey said. “If you want to visit with people who are doing the same thing as you, it’s great.”

The Knap-In, organized by Les Warner of Mt. Pleasant, began in 2002 and has always been hosted in September. For the past three years, it has been on the second weekend of September, Warner said. The event brings together flint-knappers, or people who make arrowheads from flint.

Also on display was some Native American art and other artifacts. In past years, Warner said people who did authentic weaving, bead-making and leather work attended.

Warner was pleased with the weekend’s attendance although he admitted it was down a little from past years.

He said he became involved in flint-knapping through being a collector of Native American artifacts. “I was curious on how they (arrowheads) were made. A friend had a book on flint-knapping, and I found it was easy to pick up. I guess some people are just born into it.”

Solid eye-hand coordination is a must he said and he said as he ages, he is losing hand strength.

As is the case with Harvey, half the treat for Warner is seeing the arrowheads produced by others. “There are some very creative people here. They do a lot of replicating.”

Harvey said he enjoys coming to Mt. Pleasant for the show. “It’s a great town where people understand the people who came before them and the trials and tribulations they went through,” he said. “Those ancestors provided a link to today’s life.”

He said he has been flint-knapping for 20 years and can produce about 500 arrowheads annually. “You get better the more you do. The learning curve is fairly steep. You can start as a base beginning and watch eight different techniques which make it easier.”

One of those beginners was Natalie Rivera of Des Moines, who came to the event with Harvey. She said she has been a flint-knapper for three years and during that time, her proficiency has increased immensely.

Gene Glover of Salem said he was disappointed in the attendance for this year’s event. “The crowds have been better in the past,” he assessed.

However, the quality remained top-notch, he said. “There is good quality stuff here. I will probably buy some and stop in and see Dr. (Alfred) Savage. I usually show him after the event what I bought, and he generally purchases some. That makes me happy and him happy.”

Capping off the event was a 3 p.m. auction Saturday. Warner said the money raised through the auction, generally between $500 and $700 provides the seed money to organize next year’s Knap-In.

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