This art project started out with a social studies lesson courtesy of the Simcoe County Museum:
The Wendat believed that everything in the world around them, from trees to
lakes to rivers to animals, possessed a soul or spirit, called an oki. Different okies
could bring good or bad luck in different human activities, from travel to war to
hunting or fishing to farming to gambling to relationships.
• Wendat people enlisted help from a particular oki by carrying a charm dedicated
to them. These charms could be highly valued and could be passed on from one
generation to the next. Charms could be made or could be found in the woods,
where it was believed that they had been lost by the spirit that made them.
Charms could also be obtained through trade from the Algonquins, who were
such good hunters and fishermen that they were considered very lucky people.
• Wendat people carried their good luck charms around with them. If they needed
help from their charm’s oki, they would speak to the charm and offer it beads or
pieces of tobacco as presents. They could also hold feasts for their okies to
make them more powerful.
• These charms will be made from clay. Clay was one material that the Wendat
used often to make important items like pipes and pots. They could embellish
clay objects by drawing designs on them using wooden sticks.
Then it was on to creating our own okies! Students learned how to start with a ball and use a pinch method to form features. They learned how to use slip to repair/prevent cracks. Students discovered that while an artist may start with one idea for a sculpture the project may turn into something completely different as the clay starts to form.
These charms are wonderful!