The University of Alabama

Ancient Indian Technique Showcased at UA’s Moundville Park

3.Cherokee flintknapper and living historian Noel Grayson demonstrates with the same types of tools his ancestors used. (Photo by Jerome Adams)

Cherokee flintknapper and living historian Noel Grayson demonstrates with the same types of tools his ancestors used. (Photo by Jerome Adams)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Learn from some of the country’s finest stone craftsmen how to make arrowheads, spear points and hundreds of other stone tools as they meet to demonstrate and teach their skill and sell their wares at the Moundville Knap-In from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 8 and 9 at The University of Alabama’s Moundville Archaeological Park.

Flintknapping is an ancient Indian technique for chipping stone into tools and weapons. Other skills, including making bows and arrows and carved stone objects will also be demonstrated and taught at the park, which is operated by The University of Alabama Museums.

Until Europeans came to the Americas, Native Americans made stone arrow and spear points, knife blades, scrapers, drills and numerous other implements using antler and stone to knap certain rocks that break like glass—including flint, chert and obsidian. Flint and chert are commonly found in limestone deposits, and obsidian is a natural glass formed by volcanoes.

Flintknappers love color in the stone they work, like the mookite jasper pictured here. (Photo by Jerome Adams)

Flintknappers love color in the stone they work, like the mookite jasper pictured here. (Photo by Jerome Adams)

Native Americans used the ancient technique until Europeans came to the Americas. Very quickly after, the native people set aside flintknapping in favor of metal implements. The technology was nearly lost, but, in the last 25 years, hundreds of people have revived the process, passing their knowledge on to others, much like the ancient people did.

The professional knappers meeting at Moundville will vend raw materials of all sorts, including antler, leather and a variety of knapping tools. Visitors over the age of 12 are encouraged to sit down and learn to make a stone point.

All tools, safety gear and rock needed are available for purchase. And, of course, there is a huge variety of stone points, knives, wooden display cases and other handmade items for sale.

Larger stone blades hafted into different types of handle show the variety of weapons ancient people could fashion. (Photo by Jerome Adams)

Larger stone blades hafted into different types of handles show the variety of weapons ancient people could fashion. (Photo by Jerome Adams)

Other outdoor demonstrations and displays at the Knap-In include ancient hunting and fishing equipment, while Choctaw crafts, such as basket making and bead work, will also be demonstrated.

Premiere shell carver Dan Townsend, of Tallahassee, Fla., will demonstrate, exhibit and sell his one-of-a-kind pieces, and Juanita Gardinski, of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, will provide food concessions, including some longtime favorite Native American foods like frybread, Indian tacos, buffalo stew, catfish and hominy.

There will be a children’s area running throughout the event where kids can get their faces painted, grind corn, make crafts and play Native American games.

Moundville is located 13 miles south of Tuscaloosa off Alabama Highway 69. Knap-in admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors 55 years and older and $6 for students. Children 5 years and younger are free.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.