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Montana Bitterroot Valley Knap-in 2011

Hosted by PSK OogaBooga Chief Richard Urata and his wife Joan, the first Montana Bitterroot Valley Knap-in was a TREMENDOUS SUCCESS!  It would be easy to go on and on and on with superlatives as there were so many things that made this knap-in so wonderful.  The best way to sum it up - a unanimous consensus that we'll all attend next year!

Richard and Joan are the perfect hosts.  With prior experience hosting PSK knap-ins at Davis Creek, their preparations were flawless.  From travel directions to parking arrangements for campers, trailers, tents and cars, to fire wood for the OogaBooga Initiation Ceremony, every detail was attended to and it all came together without a hitch.  Joan Urata, acknowledged leader of the Puget Sound Knappers 'Flintknapping Floozies', organized not one, but several outstanding potluck dinners, lunches and even continental breakfasts.   From spagetti to teriyaki chicken the food was both delicious and plentiful. 

Richard and Joan even arranged for some spectacular weather - absolutely clear, 75 - 80 degrees in the shade and 60 degrees at night.  Coupled with the incredible Bitterroot Valley scenery, it made for perfect knapping weather during the day, cozy evenings around the community campfire and great sleeping weather at night in the tents and campers. 

The Bitterroot Knap-in, like most if not all PSK knap-ins, is 90% about knapping and 110% about good friends and fellowship. 

In addition to five full days of knapping, there was also archery and atlatls, primative fire starting demonstrations, musical entertainment, dancing, Paleo art displays of all types,  wire wrapping instruction, hiking, friendly, though intense competitions and plenty of fun and laughter.  The Flintknapper Floozies, in addition to provide excellant meals, kept busy doing everything from 'rag-rugging', knitting, wire wrapping and hiking the various 'eco-educational' trails throughout the park.  The Floozies were also the judges for the 10-Speed Competition and did a fine job evaluating flake pattern, symmetry, aspect ration and overall 'niceness'.

There was a spectacular OogaBooga Initiation Ceremony that included the elevation to Chief of two prominent PSK OogaBooga members.  With three chiefs, two spirit guides and a particulary energetic Coyote, 15 new member were initiated into the sacred order of the Ear of Corn Society.  If I reported more I'd have to kill you (and myself).  (But to see photos of the Sacred and Secret OogaBooga ceremony see the photos below!)

The knap-in kicked off on Thursday with knappers, family and friends coming from as far away as Saskatchewan, Canada (ehh), Seattle, WA, Redmond, OR and San Francisco, CA.  Also in attendance were knappers from Montana and Idaho and noobies from Minnesota.  Within minutes of setting up tents, trailers or campers knappers were hard at it - knapping away on everything from Glass Buttes obsidian to Texas Flint to Montana Jaspers and agates to Goldfield chert.  Along with the 20 or so experience knappers who attended came a half dozen of so 'noobies'.  Provided with free rock, loaner tools and great instruction they were sooned addicted with the 'knapping bug'!

Although not widely advertised outside the knapping community, the knap-in signs posted on Hwy93 drew quite a number of 'civilians' who stopped by to see what the heck a knap-in was all about.  They weren't disappointed - displays by Master Knappers/Paleo Artist's Jim Raynor, Stu 'Ute' Murdock, Ray Alt, Rich Urata and others wowed the visitors and guest alike.  They also came to hear the Dideridoo concert feature the renown duo - Murdock and Urata, accompanied by the Flintknapping Floozies!  Also feature was an exotic intrepretive dance'Didgeridoo Bump' by the famous former French Ballerina, Françoise and Knapper Bill. 


There were some friendly though intensly fierce, competions of 2 inch Goat and 10-Speed.  For those that have never participated here are the rules:

2 inch Goat - First knappers wanting to compete donate $5 (half the proceeds go to the host to cover the cost of the knap-in and half to the winner).  Next a large piece of knappable rock, in this case a 12 inch by 15 inch by 1 and a half inch thick spall of flawless Dacite is passed around a circle of knappers.  Each Knapper has one chance to take of a flake which must be at least 2" in size.  Flakes less than 2 inches result in the eliminaton of that knapper.  The rock continues around the circle until a knapper takes off the last possible 2 inch flake leaving a the rock less that two inches in size.  The last knapper to take off this flake wins.  Winner of the First Annual Bitterroot Valley Knap-in 2 inch Goat competition was longtime PSK knapper Jim Smith from Bothell, WA.

10-Speed - Again, knappers wanting to compete donate $5 (half the proceeds go to the host to cover the cost of the knap-in and half to the winner).  Next each knapper select a rock from their stash and places it in the center of the knapping circle.  Each rock is numbered and  corresponding numbers are written on pieces of paper, placed in a hat and drawn at random by the particpants.  A non-participating knappers acts as timer and once the go-ahead is given participating knappers have 10 minutes to make the best point they can.  A panel of independent judges from the Flintknapping Floozies then evaluate the results bases on size, symmetry, flake pattern, style and overall quality.  Winner of the First Annual Bitterroot Valley Knap-in 10-Speed Contest was Richard Urata from hamilton, MT.

We also held an auction of donated items to help cover the cost of the knap-in.  Some of the items donated included an inlaid display case by master woodcrafter (and master knapper) Jim Raynor, fluting jig by Jim Keffer,   10 inch obsidian blade by the 'Ute' Flintknapper Stu Murdock, four matching sets of arrowhead earings by Ray Alt and his wife and much, much more.Plus the Pièce de résistance - two beautiful community blades knapped and signed by all 20 plus knappers!  Suffice to say the host was made whole!

The ONLY bad thing about this knap-in was that it had to end!  I, along with everyone else are already making plans for attending next year's Montana Bitterroot Valley Knap-in!

Here are the Photos:

Day 1 - The Knap-in site and the New Banner!

Guarding the entrance against bad spirits - the PSK Totem

Terrific Hosts - Richard and Joan Urata (standing)

Some of the Bitterroot Knap-in Knappers

(Top row, left to right ) Bill McClure, Joe Greenwell, George Bryce,  Warren 'Smitty' Smith,  Mike Consiglio (hidden), Jim Smith (in front of Mike)  Bill Camche, Richard Pettersen, Ray Alt (forground), Jim Rayner, Joseph Bryan, 'Yukon Dick' Kocan, Stuart 'Ute' Murdock, Bill Thomas

(Bottom row, left to right) Richard Urata, Eric Barnett, Jim 'Reefer' Keffer, Bob Morgan 

Bitterroot Knap-in 'Flintknapping Floozies'

(Top row, left to right )Jan Morgan, Laura Bolles, Karen Rayner, Grace Camche, Harriet Alt, Bettye Hensel,

Francoise Bryan, Joyce Smith, Judy Thomas, Rose Murdock & Joan Urata

(Bottom row, left to right) Cheryl Bryce, Beverly Keffer, Billie McLure 

God Bless America - Fourth of July Weekend

Flintknapping Floozies!

Some of their many talents

Pine needle basket


Community Activity

Community Points - signed by 15 knappers including Richard Urata, Stu 'Ute' Murdock, 'Yukon Dick' Kocan, Ray Alt, Jim Smith, Jim 'Reefer' Keffer. 

The 'Black Butter' obsidian point on the left was donated to the Host, the two to the right were sold at the auction to help cover the cost of the knap-in.

10-Speed Competition

The 10-Speed Rocks - some UGLY suckers!

Intense Competition!

The Judges - PSK Flintknapping Floozies


Richard Urata's winning point is the large mahogany point just right of center.

2 Inch Goat Competition

Stu 'Ute' Murdock - about to go out early.  Happens to the best of them ;-)

Trying to find just the right platform

Take that Rookie!

Winner Jim Smith making sure

Joe Greenwell


The Entertainment

Didgeridoo Concert featuring the Dynamic Duo 'Murdock and Urata' accompanied by the Flintknapping Floozies and Yukon Dick

(may require Quicktime Movie Player - free download)

More Didgeridoo

Still More


Doing the Didgeridoo Bump - Françoise and Knapper Bill

Community Meals - Great Eats!



Knappers and their Art

Jim Raynor


Jim Raynor's Art

An accomplished woodworker and knapper, Jim does the entire knife (and the stands)!



Ray Alt

Ray's art include a wide variety of point styles and stone, much of which he collected in his native Montana.  He is outstanding at replicating points found around the state.  Ray also uses his points (and self-made bows and arrows) to take a variety of Montana Big Game and displays those the he's used to take big game.

Among the big game taken by Ray's self-made arrows were Black Bear, Buffalo, Whitetail and Mule Deer, Elk and Big Horn Sheep!

'Yukon Dick' Kocan 

Yukon Dick's Art

Flint Knife

Replica Hooks - Typical of the PNW and Alaska Aboriginal People

Also samples of various plant fiber cordage and woven quiver

Joe Greenwell


The Chiefs

New Chief

Coyote and two Chiefs

Spirit Guide


OogaBooga Initiation Ceremony




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