You are invited to a weekend of fun hosted by the Yellowstone Gateway Museum on May 18 and 19.
The Montana Spring Knap-In is a gathering of skilled craftspeople demonstrating the art of flint knapping and other primitive skills. The program is from 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. on Saturday and 9:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M on Sunday at the museum, 118 W. Chinook, in Livingston. Lunch is available on Saturday from 11:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. and is a fundraiser for the Park County 4-H Shooting Sports group. Three 4-H members, including two Park County youth, are raising money to attend the National 4-H Shooting Competition in Grand Island, Nebraska this June.
Also during the weekend celebration, the museum unveils its newest exhibit, Re-creating an Ancient Technology: Modern-Day Flint Knapping. Curated by local knappers, Ray Alt and George Bryce, along with museum staff, the exhibit showcases Alt and Bryce’s artistry and reveals point and tool name origins, the process of flint-knapping, as well as stone quarries in Montana and beyond. Of particular note is the display with exquisite points pared with their parent rock material. After experiencing this exhibit, people will have a new understanding how rocks have been used for thousands of years.
The two-day event draws expert flint knappers from Montana, including local knappers Ray Alt and George Bryce, and the Rocky Mountain region. At least twenty knappers are expected to attend. Experts give demonstrations and lessons, inviting anyone over age 18 to try their hand at making a stone point. Flint knappers also compete in the “two inch goat game” that tests their percussion flaking skill as well as the “ten speed game” a contest of who can make the best point in only ten minutes.
Tim Ryan, Confederated Salish-Kootenai tribal member and instructor of traditional skills and outdoor survival at Salish Kootenai College, travels to Livingston to give demonstrations on Saturday. Ryan also serves as the heritage education manager for EthnoTech, LLC, an organization specializing in educational programming, curriculum development, and artifact re-creations. During the event he talks about traditional tools, native technologies, and material goods used by his ancestors, illustrating these through objects he has made. Ryan demonstrates the process of making natural cordage using native dogbane and invites program attendees to learn the craft.
Local resident Chris Newhouse demonstrates and teaches different fire-making techniques using the bow drill, hand drill, and other primitive methods on both Saturday and Sunday. He attended Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracker School in Jew Jersey in 2007 and has passionately practiced wilderness survival and primitive living skills since then. Newhouse runs a local group called Scout Craft which is centered on minimalistic outdoor experiences and community nature gatherings. He is an instructor in various summer camps in the area and region. He provides materials during the Knap-In weekend but if you’d like to make your own fire-starting kits please bring a knife.
Flint knapper Don Stanford visits Livingston from Hot Springs, Montana, and demonstrates the art of atlatl spear throwing on both Saturday and Sunday. The atlatl is a throwing device that essentially extends the length of the arm, resulting in a more powerful throw. It’s more difficult than it looks but is fun to practice. This is a technology that native people developed before the advent of the bow and arrow.
An auction is scheduled for 4:00 P.M. on Saturday where event attendees can bid on replica projectile points and knives, didgeridoos, jewelry, knitted items, beadwork, and more. All proceeds beyond the weekend’s expenses benefit the Yellowstone Gateway Museum. The knappers and other craftspeople display and sell their wares throughout the weekend.
This is a great place to learn about the art of flint knapping. The event is hosted by the museum and local flint knappers Ray Alt and George Bryce. For more information, please contact Paul Shea or Karen Reinhart, Yellowstone Gateway Museum, 222-4184. Or visit our website, www.yellowstonegatewaymuseum.org.