In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

80 The Role of Traditional Arts in Identity Creation in the Lives of Elders Patricia A. Atkinson In a small workshop behind his house, a slim ninety-eight-year-old man is busy working with wood, deer antler, and stone. He is sculpting, sanding, and polishing these materials to make a ceremonial pipe. His workshop is full of tools of all sizes, reflective of his work life as a master carpenter as well as his interest in shaping stones to create pipe bowls (fig. 4.1). His apprentice, a man in his fifties , has tightened an emerging stone bowl into a vise and is using a rasp and file to shape the stone. The elder is delighted to show off his workshop, his tools, his materials, and his finished pipes. These are labor-intensive pieces and regarded by many as works of art. He does not sell his pipes, although he has had many offers . He regards them as sacred objects to be used for prayer, not art pieces for display . He gives them to those he deems worthy—or in need of spiritual guidance or cleansing—as ceremonial tools used to send prayers to Creator. He is proud to be known as a pipe maker, not only to his family and immediate community but also to the larger community of Paiute, Washoe, and Shoshone people of the Great Basin as well as native people from other parts of the United States and the world. While pipe making is not a tradition native to the Northern Paiute tribe into which he was born, the adoption and use of ceremonial pipes by northern Nevada’s indigenous people dates back more than sixty years. Following World War II, the Bureau of Indian Affairs instituted an urbanization program that sent members of American Indian tribes to cities—many to the West Coast to Los Angeles and the San Francisco area. During this era, the people were introduced 4 The Expressive Lives of Elders (2018): 80–94, DOI: 10.2979/expressivelivesofelders.0.0.05 The Role of Traditional Arts in Identity Creation | 81 to each other’s traditions and a number of Plains Indian traditions—including dance styles and ceremonial objects—were embraced by the Northern Paiutes. As the director of a state public folklife program, one of my duties has been to administer an apprenticeship program in folk and traditional arts. During my decade in this position, I have become aware that the demographics of the master and apprentice pairs have changed from the standard model of an elder community member teaching a youthful apprentice. A number of apprentices have been middle-aged or elderly individuals; master artists may be teaching peers their own age or older members of their communities. I began to wonder about this phenomenon. What was going on here? Did these apprentices in different ethnic groups have anything in common other than their ages? Was there a significance to middle age and/or post-retirement? Fig. 4.1. The pipe maker in his workshop. Photograph by Rebecca Snetselaar. Courtesy of the Nevada Folklife Archive, Nevada Arts Council. Fig. 4.2. Master dancer Fumiko Duncan. Photograph by Rebecca Snetselaar. Courtesy of the Nevada Folklife Archives. Fig. 4.3. Apprentice Christine Ohira (left) with master dancer Fumiko Duncan. Photograph by Rebecca Snetselaar. Courtesy of the Nevada Folklife Archives. 84 | The Expressive Lives of Elders My engagement with the master and apprentice artists in these “upsidedown ” apprenticeships is best comprehended by presenting their stories. While I will introduce the reader to several Nevada traditional artists, they are by no means the only examples of this phenomenon. Once a week, forty-five weeks each year, for the last twelve years, Fumiko Duncan has taught traditional Japanese Tendo dance to groups of Japanese American women at the West Flamingo Senior Center in Las Vegas (fig. 4.2). Fumiko studied Tendo, a twentieth-century style of Kabuki, in her native Japan with Miyoko Maruyama, who created Tendo dance in the 1950s. Now in her senior years, Fumiko is a certified master instructor. The senior women study and practice dance and the use of dance accessories such as fans, umbrellas, and flowers for two hours each week. They meet between August 1 and March 30 to prepare for performances as the Tendo Baikoki group, which performs at Chinese New Year, the Aki Matsuri Festival, the Martin Luther King Day parade, the Henderson Heritage Parade, and other community functions (fig. 4.3). Hawaiian native Charles Herring, who...


Additional Information

MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.