Column: Potters from Catawba Nation keep their traditions alive

"After the successful resolution of a 20-year lawsuit first filed in 1973, the Catawba Nation has received settlements in both land, cash and, what is more important, gained federal recognition as a tribe. The tribal rolls now boast about 2,600 members, and out of those, about 50 adults continue to maintain the only Native American pottery tradition to survive with an unbroken line of descent east of the pueblos of New Mexico.

What makes Catawba pottery so distinctive? Some would point to the Catawba artist's rejection of the potter's wheel in favor of pottery built by hand from clay coils and fragments, and the use of traditional tools such as knives, bone awls, mollusk shell modelers, sticks and rubbing stones

Another aspect of Catawba pottery that catches the eye is its burnished finish. When the object's surface is hard, but not yet fired, the potter rubs it with river stones, often passed down from generation to generation, to achieve a satin finish that some observers mistake for a glaze."

Get the Story:
Tom Mack: Pottery a feature of Catawba identity (The Aiken Standard 7/8)

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