Canku Ota

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America

December 2, 2000 - Issue 24


Native Americans Teach Students
About Ways of Life

By Chris Bender Gazette staff writer

 photos of actual Catawba pottery

A Catawba Native American couple visited fourth and fifth grade art classes at Coosa Elementary this week to teach them about the ancient craft of pottery.

The couple came as part of the Artists in Residence program, which is funded by the state and allows schools to bring in artists to teach classes.

Coosa art teacher Donna Sams said having the artists this week was a good tie-in, because November is also Native American History month.

The students made pottery using the same methods the Catawba Indians did thousands of years ago.

The Catawbas were a tribe that inhabited the Southeastern United States. Now they live on a reservation near Rock Hill, still making hand-crafted pottery the way their ancestors did.

"Pottery has been the primary livelihood of the Catawba tribe," said Warren Sanders, one of the artists. "It's what the Catawba used to trade with other people."

Cheryl Harris Sanders said the students used the pinch method to create the pots.

"That's one of the three methods we use to make traditional pottery," she said. "We don't use any chemicals or a pottery wheel. It's all natural."

She said the students used river stones to scrape the pottery.

For the final step, Sanders made a pit that was used to fire the pottery. This method did not use a glaze, which is often a final step in potterymaking today.

Warren Sanders said this method of firing was passed down to him from his grandmother.

Sams said the students would be able to see the pit, but would not get to watch the entire firing process because it takes several hours.

Students enjoyed the week's activities with the artists, Sams said.

"We've had so many students bringing their moms and dads in this week," Sams said. "The students have been very excited."

Students in the fourth and fifth grades normally have art class once a week, but with the visiting artists the students had an art class every day.

"It's been a good way for the students to be exposed to Catawba culture," Sams said.

Along with making the pottery, students also learned about traditional dances, Catawba clothing, listened to folk tales and learned how to say a few Catawba words.

"I enjoyed making the pottery," said fourth grader Josh Gradick. "I thought it was pretty interesting."

Fourth-grader Emily Hepfner said, "I learned a lot of different things about the Catawba."

Catawba History


Legacy of Survival-7 Master Potters


Looking Back


Catawba Language



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