When Elbert County resident Propone creates artworks on her potter's wheel she is doing it much the same way as her Native American ancestors. “I am a member of the Kickapoo tribe and I am proud of …
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When Elbert County resident Propone creates artworks on her potter's wheel she is doing it much the same way as her Native American ancestors.
“I am a member of the Kickapoo tribe and I am proud of my Native American heritage,” she said. “The pottery of my ancestors as well as the pottery made by many Native American tribes was beautiful. As much as possible I wanted to create my pottery as my ancestors and the potters of other tribes did. I felt that to be able to do that I spent time studying about learned all I could about the methods they uses and I am using a great many of those techniques when I work on my pieces.”
Propone said Native American pottery-making history dates back thousands of years to the ancient people known as the mound builders. She said she studied not only the different styles of pottery made by different Native American tribes but also the techniques used in making the pottery.
“I do a few contemporary art works for my own creative pursuits,” she said. “But most of my pottery is done in the traditional style and I try to do it as much as possible in the traditional way.”
She starts by making her creating her clay.
The Elbert County artist said she gathers her materials and grinds them to make the clay she uses to create her pottery. She said mixing the ingredients is only the first step because the clay must then be aged. She said she ages the clay for about six months before she feels it is ready to use.
“I am very methodical about all I do related to creating my pottery,” she said. “I always take my time because I have never found any shortcuts that work in any part of creating pottery.”
She said once a piece is completed it must be set allowed time to dry. She said it could take several weeks for the pieces to dry properly so they can be fired in the kiln.
“Again, I follow the tradition of my ancestors in firing my pottery and use buffalo chips as fuel for the kiln,” she said. “Buffalo chips are dried buffalo feces. Fortunately I have a ready supply of buffalo chips to fire my kilns because there are several buffalo farms in Elbert County and the owner allow me to gather the buffalo chips I use to fire my kilns.”
Propone said she is probably best known for the pottery style of Native American tribes around the Great Lakes. One of her signature creations is a bowl with a bison carved into the outside of it.
She said her work is featured in a number of galleries including the Sorrel Sky Gallery in Santa Fe. A store representative said they have always had a collection of her fine ceramic pottery available.
According to research, the Kickapoo tribe was originally located in Wisconsin area.
“The Kickapoo tribe sided with French and when the French lost the French and Indian war, the British took over the land and ordered all tribes to move south,” Propone said. “My ancestors made their own trail of tears, walking about 700 miles in winter to Kansas. A lot of tribe members didn't make. Those who did make it settled there on the reservation lands established in 1832. Some members of the tribe left the area and settled along the Texas-Mexican border. Now there are Kickapoos in Kansas, Kickapoos in Oklahoma and another group in the Texas-Mexican border.”
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