BENTONVILLE, Ohio – In an enchanting mansion just outside Bentonville, is a small business catering to the avid historian or just the curious.
Josh Krieger, of Bentonville, has been enchanted by early cultures since he was a child.
âIt started when I was a kid learning about history, whether it was Native American cultures or other cultures around the world, from Ireland to Africa. It could only be a glimpse of something; a picture or something on television. I read a lot of books. This is where it started. Over time he grew from there, âKrieger said.
During his formative years and into adulthood, the fascination continued to grow. Eight years ago, when he attended his first bow-making class, it peaked.
âI’ve always thought archery interested me. So, I decided that I wanted to shoot with a bow, and I thought these primitive wooden bows looked more interesting and attractive. When I took the course, these were Native Arches from the Eastern Woods. I started to learn more about these people; different tribes in the regions, their bows and other archery equipment. Ropes, arrows, tail and spikes all interested me, whether they were simple and simple, or elaborate, painted or sculpted. It was all interesting to me, âKrieger said.
From there it branched out quickly, as he began to chart and unearth wells of knowledge about other tribes as well.
“From there, I thought not only of the Eastern Woods Tribes, but what were the Plains Tribes doing?” How was their bow different from the West Coast tribes? Then I learned a bit about the Inuit and their bows. It was an easy transition to start looking south; the islands, the Caribbean, South America and the continents. From there, it’s African, Asian cultures and so on. The English longbow is a kind of famous weapon that has conquered much of Europe. I think a lot of people have used something similar in a lot of other countries, âKrieger said.
From the art of bow making and learning the intricacies of tribal customs, the opportunity presented itself to explore other avenues in the same field.
âWe met a man named Gary Barker who was an incredible source of information. He has shared openly with us for years and invited us to join in because we were placed in a living history group when we first tried selling bows in person. Instead of just making stuff and selling it to some faceless person on the internet, I loved teaching people. Teaching has always been a passion for me. At these living history events, my wife and I, Marissa, portray and teach people about the natives of the Eastern Woods, âKrieger said.
One interesting piece of information he teaches is how common it was for the natives of the Eastern Woods to adopt other members of neighboring tribes, as well as Europeans and West African slaves.
“Anyone who was around, he would adopt and he would become one of them.” We focus on teaching Indigenous culture. Which goes with the things that we make and demonstrate – I call them hunting tools – but everything that the natives have used at different times. We don’t really make guns. We want purely native cultural items, and we’re trying to expand that. The bow is very popular and people love to try it out. The other things we do relate to that, âKrieger said.
Along with sharing knowledge during these primitive events, Krieger sells his creations.
âWhen it comes to archery equipment, we make bows, ropes, arrows, quivers and arm guards. Some of these are really authentic in the eastern forests, but because I’m interested in other cultures and styles, even modern or fantastic things, I like to have a bit of everything. At events, we stick to the authentic equipment of the Native Eastern Woods, but I make Eastern Woods style war clubs – which I believe are also related to the throwing stick – and fiber arts, âKrieger said.
Most of the materials used to make these parts are harvested by hand. Krieger also enjoys customizing axes – another common practice in Native culture when they adopted European tools and weapons.
When not attending events, Kreiger offers bow making classes from his home.
âI have since helped lead this bow-making course which is offered twice a year in Indiana. I thought I might as well try to start mine. I want to be as thorough as possible, so they make their bow, string and two arrows. I ask them to use synthetic materials – just for the sake of time – to make their strings, but the process is the same, âKrieger said. As customers craft their bows, Krieger will guide them on a historical journey, explaining the different components and their variations through time.
Krieger’s Bow-Making Course, which costs $ 250, is an expansive two-day workshop that includes food and accommodation in one of their many comfortable rooms.
To browse Krieger’s works for sale, which range from archery gear to tomahawks and hand-braided hemp bags, visit kriegermtncrafts on Facebook or visit the online store at kriegermtncrafts.etsy.com.
âI am always interested in sharing what I know, what I have and what we do with anyone. If anyone just wants to see what we’re doing, they are welcome to contact us, âKrieger said.
For more course information or general inquiries, contact 937-549-2127, 937-217-4994 or email [email protected] Visit the website at kriegermountain.com.