May 2, 2002 - Spring Pow Wow

It's a Native American craft that dates back before Christopher Columbus, and one local man is a master at it. Mike Armstrong will be demonstrating his skill at the spring pow-wow this weekend in Robert.

As he chops the wood with a small hatchet, Mike says, "You've got to have the patience of the mountain to build a bow. The second you take your mind off building a bow is the second you mess it up."

Mike has the patience and the concentration and the tools. "You can't go out and buy a hatchet like this," he says. "We build all our tools to work with."

The work is the primitive, tedious art, skill, craft of building the long bow the way the Native Americans did centuries ago. He'll only use Osage, which he calls "the spring steel of bow wood," and which he has to go clear to Oklahoma sometimes to find. And then it will take him anywhere from two to 30 days to craft an Osage bow.

"We do it because of the love of building bows," says Mike. "I don't know what else to say about it. If it's in your blood, they you'll do it."

Mike Armstrong, on target in an ancient art -- and on record as the only person to fell a deer with a primitive bow in the Tunica Wildlife Area.

He'll be demonstrating bow making at the spring pow-wow Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Robert.