Doing the work for this assignment was deeply meaningful for me. At present, I’ve been battling some racist remarks from professors. This project gave me a safe and supportive space to connect with the ancestors, something which always restores me during long and hard journeys. As you mentioned in class, the work of this project proves deceptively simple. Had I been starting at the same place as my colleagues, the availability of preexisting 3D models would have saved me much time spent on conceptualization and asset creation. The Sapona River is known as the Tigris and Euphrates of the Carolinas, has “been the site of human civilization for at least 12,000 years”. Somehow that appears to have been lost in our shared histories, allowing for the colonial education system to uphold Egypt as the pinnacle of ancient civilizations. For these reasons, the archeological, archival, and historical basis for conceptualizing this project were a solid challenge. While I do have reams of research I’ve been compiling for about a year and a half, one challenge I faced was selecting a proper housing structure. The Carolinas and southeast Virginia have been places of extreme diversity since ancient times. However, there is a strong lack of documentation and a clear record of how groups interact between each other, what elements they shared, and which elements were distinct. For example, I am a member of the Chicoran Shakori Oyate tribe and the word “Chicoran” implies a different housing structure than “Shakori”, and the Shakori were confederated with the Eno (of Oenock) and choose to identify as Eno rather than Shakori. Furthermore, the Pee Dee (the people of Town Creek) have historically been a seperate group. However, after my ancestors sold their land on the first North American reservation (it was British, not American), they migrated to the lower Pee Dee valley where the various tribes of Sapona coalesced. The historic record says we were absorbed by the Catawba, and as settlers were looking to erase us to take our land, those who had migrated to South Carolina lived in Jim Crow enforced solitude. As such, I had to spend lots of time theorizing what would be acceptable to my elders and ancestors. In creating Oenock, I ended up blending the styles of the Saura (who absorbed the Shakori and Eno, becoming the principal tribe which resettled with the Pee Dee) with those of the historic Pee Dee of Town Creek village. I used archeological descriptions of Upper Sauratown and attempted to apply them to the Town Creek site. For example, I used the following quote to help me properly place the houses “The physical layout of the community was made up of circular houses, which could be inhabited by up to two hundred to two hundred fifty people at once, within a single, stockaded village.”. To me, I would say that this project appears deceptively simple as I had to consider far more things, and start at a far different point than my peers. To create the models I needed, I found Doodle3D to be an excellent tool (worth the $9.95!). However, I found it’s top-down drawing approach to be limiting when I needed to blend certain structures (such as a cone rotated 90 degrees to be merged with a cube). I was, without a doubt, surprised when I downloaded my models and they were entirely flipped around. It took me sometime to adjust to the 3D manipulations of photoshop, and even longer to figure out how to properly apply styles. Once I had found a way to simply adjust the 3D models to simply be properly positioned, I had to then explore how to apply new textures. After resolving export issues, I also found that I needed to entirely rerender/reprocess each 3D model after applying a new texture. What I wish to stress is how much painstaking thought went into the creation of each 3D model. For each one, my process looked as follows:
- An archival dive into the Sapona tribes to conceptualize the desired 3D object
- A negotiation between the archival info and the representations of Town Creek
- Doodle3D Production
- Import into Photoshop
- 3D Model alignment
- 3D Model enhancement/texture additions
- Model placement & debugging
- Often times I would place a 3D model on the canvas, but would have to perform lots of guess and check operations to balance the x/y/z coordinates as well as to properly adjust the scale.
As I wish to state, every action was very intentional and had a much bigger backlog of work involved than may appear at first glance. For example, I would create models which I felt would be useful additions. However, after further negotiation with my sources and reflection with the ancestors, I would eventually come to the conclusion that such an asset shouldn’t be used and is better served swapped with something else. The main case for this was the chief’s house, which I ended up replacing with a temple. There is a group in South Carolina who refer to themselves as the Nachez-PeeDee (eastern band Natchez), who also share Chicoran heritage. For awhile I was considering using a Nachez chief temple for the principal mound, but after further negotiation and consideration, I felt that the role was better filled by a mortuary temple. Overall, this skill is invaluable to me. I work with many things which are said to be “dead”, “done”, and “wiped off the face of the earth”. That is, when people even believe these things existed in the first place. From this project, I have been given the incredible power to make the intangible both tangible and accessible once more.