Meskwaki woodcarving, Meskwaki Settlement
Luke Kapayou is a member of the Meskwaki Tribe. As a young man, was taught the basics of woodcarving by his elders. His grandfather and three of his uncles were woodcarvers, and Kapayou was mentored by Arthur Blackcloud. Today, Kapayou is considered a master carver, the only one at the settlement. He has taught a variety of workshops to school and community groups, as well as for the general public at museums and other venues.
Meskwaki woodcarving is a winter activity. Like other Meskwaki traditions, it follows the seasons. Spring is for planting and ceremonies, summer is for fieldwork and the green corn ceremony (now the annual public Meskwaki powwow), fall is for harvest and other ceremonies, and winter is for reflection and quieter activities. According to Luke Kapayou, during the winter, when the trees are dormant, is the time to cut wood to be used to carve a variety of utilitarian objects. Yet the bowls, spoons, knife handles, and other objects that he carves also have a strong aesthetic and spiritual component, carved as they are with clan symbols.
Meskwaki, literally “the Red Earth People,” are of Algonquin origin from the Eastern Woodland Culture area. Referred to by the French as "Les Renards" (the Foxes) as far back as 1666, tribal members have always identified themselves as “Meskwaki.” In 1735, they allied with the Sauk to fend off Europeans and other Indian tribes, and both tribes moved southward from Wisconsin into Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri. The US Government moved the Sauk and Meskwaki to a reservation in northeast Kansas in 1845, but some Meskwaki remained in Iowa. In 1857 the tribe purchased the first 80 acres in Tama County, and ten years later the U.S. Government finally began paying them annuities, which gave the Meskwaki a formal identity as the Sac and Fox of Iowa.Contact: Luke Kapayou, 641-484-4975, firstname.lastname@example.org