Modern-Day Flint Knapping: A Conversation with Ray Alt

The Yellowstone Gateway Museum is hosting a program entitled Modern-Day Flint Knapping—A Conversation with Ray Alt on Thursday, September 5 at 6:30 PM at the museum, 118 W. Chinook, Livingston. Alt, an expert flint knapper, talks about the process of knapping a projectile point from cobble to finished point, hunting with modern and primitive bows, and his shaft wrench theory. There will be points available at the program that attendees can handle, illustrating the differences between stone materials used in knapping.

Forty years ago, Alt began flint knapping because of his hunting activities. He said, “I wanted to hunt with stone points as our ancestors did and the challenge and joy has been worth it.” Alt credits his friend Barney DeSimone, a California knapper, with teaching him the basic steps of knapping and starting Alt’s career of making points and tools from stone. Alt knaps two or three times a week and attends two or more “knap-ins”—informal gatherings of flint knappers—in the region annually.

Alt was born and raised in Livingston. After high school he worked as an electrician for the railroad and then, for Montana Power. He eventually did hydro-electric work for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, taking him to Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Alaska. He feels that “Livingston is hard to beat.”

In May, Alt donated nearly 300 projectile points and tools to the museum, and helped develop the museum’s newest exhibit, Re-creating an Ancient Technology: Modern-Day Flint Knapping. The program is adjacent to the exhibit on the second floor; attendees will have to climb stairs to access the program.

The program is free and refreshments are provided. Please visit the museum’s website,  or call 406-222-4184, for more information about this and other programs that the museum offers.