Saturday, June 16, 2007

It passes for a tribe

As it turns out, people who are in the habit of chipping spearheads from flint and building fires with fire ploughs are somewhat difficult to reach by way of email. Who knew?
However, in response to one reader’s curiosity, and to make good on a pledge I made to some folks at this year’s MAPS Meet, I’ve followed some leads I heard about last week.
As one might imagine, there is considerable variation in the focus of primitive skills events. The spectrum of skills to be learned range from some of the earliest human technologies, to "frontier" craft. Some instructors even teach "re-technology", the practice of using found objects to craft simple tools (for instance, using some steel salvaged from the body of an old car to forge a knife or a hoe). While I’m certain that there are many other events like these, some formal, some informal, these are a few that I have recently heard mentioned. If readers know of others, I invite them to share them.

MAPS Rendezvous: Alas, you’ve missed it. The good news is that it has been held annually for several years, so you can mark your calendar for next year. The MAPS Rendezvous is typically in early June and has been held in Virginia and in Maryland, near the Pennsylvania border. The Rendezvous generally runs midweek through Sunday for about $200. The fee covers breakfast and dinner each day, campsite (or one of a limited number of bunkhouse beds) with bathhouse, and instruction; certain courses also have a small materials fee, generally not more than $5 (a couple of classes do have higher fees).
MAPS offers other events throughout the year, throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

Rabbitstick: At the risk of looking like a geographically illiterate Easterner*, this one is as close as I’ve been able to get to the Pacific Northwest (all apologies to Kiki and Cristi). This is a late summer/early fall event in Idaho and costs $245 (early registration). Fee covers campsite, instruction, 2 simple meals a day and all campground services (including sanitary services, firewood, potable water and parking). The site makes reference to some materials fees up to $100.

Wintercount: This event is run by the same outfit that offers Rabbitstick (above). Wintercount is a late winter event near Phoenix, AZ. At first glance, the other details seem to be the same as the other event.

National Rendezvous and Living History Foundation: This organization runs several events throughout the year in the Eastern and Midwestern US. These events run $55 each (for non-members), plus some additional fees for those who plan to sell things.

NMLRA Old Northwest Territory Primitive Rendezvous
June 22 to June 30, 2007
10712 Chatham Road Spencer, Ohio

NMLRA Northeastern Primitive Rendezvous
July 13 to July 20, 2007
Near Naples, New York

NMLRA Midwest Primitive Rendezvous
July 20 to July 28, 2007
Black Hawk Memorial Park, Woodford, Wisconsin

NMLRA Eastern Primitive Rendezvous
September 22 to September 30, 2007
Muddy Run Park, Holtwood, PA

It’s worth mentioning the Burning Man events, as well. These are not primitive skills events, per se, but I’ve observed some overlap in those who participate in these events.

*Author’s note: E.R. Dunhill is well aware of how far the Snake River is from the readers in question; E.R. Dunhill used to be a professional cartographer.

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