If you thought cookie put a lot of work into making Arbuckle’s on the trail, he’s got nothing on Caddo potter Chase Earles. Chase will be making traditional foods for our Annual Chuck Wagon Festival, May 29-30. And just like cookie needs his Dutch oven, a Caddo cook needs a quality cooking pot. Chase just happens to make his.
Not much is widely known about Caddo pottery because their pots were traditionally buried with the owner, making them sacred and generally not for public display. As a young artist, Chase was fascinated by the pottery he saw on family trips to the southwest and decided to carry on his tribe’s traditions through pottery too. To learn Caddo pottery techniques, many of which are exclusively tribal knowledge, Chase read tons of books and built a rapport with tribal elders who passed on their knowledge. He also got some help from fellow Oklahoman Jeri Redcorn, who is widely recognized for reviving Caddo pottery. Examples of her work, as well as Chase’s, can be seen in “Spiro and the Art of the Mississippian World.”
Chase makes a lot of pottery using ancient Caddo techniques, including hand-digging the clay. First, he digs the clay and dries it. Once it’s dried, Chase mixes in chunks of dried clay and a tempering material like freshwater shells so the pots will bake correctly. Once the clay is made, he can get to work crafting a traditional pot.
Here’s an example of a traditional Caddo cooking pot (the one Chase will cook in at the Annual Chuck Wagon Festival). Chase made it himself, but what’s equally exciting is what will go inside.
Come to the Annual Chuck Wagon Festival to meet Chase and get a taste of his traditional corn and black walnut soup, the same kind of soup a Caddo family would have enjoyed hundreds, even thousands of years ago!