Shakoe Mo:ti


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Shakoe Mo:ti

Shoccoree tribal historian Rebecca Fetcher and I are in regular communication in regards to the latest findings on our nation’s history. Rebecca was sharing with me a record of an Indian birch bark map dated to the year 1592, fifteen years before the founding of Jamestown. On the map the town of Sissipahaw is shown on the Haw River in Alamance County, while the town of Sapona (now Cedar Falls) is shown on Deep River in Randolph County (image 1). While we have yet to find a copy of the map itself, the description of the map provided by Ben Bulla was a powerful find. Shortly thereafter, Rebecca had informed me that she had found evidence to believe our clan symbol was the bear or “mo:ti” in Tutelo. While further investigations were unable to verify the Bear as the Shoccoree clan symbol, hearing of both symbols together provided powerful imagery. I could clearly and immediately see a carved, angular bear standing on its hind legs, looking up, on the parchment of the map, similar to the symbols that exist on the 1724 Catawba Deer Skin Map (image 2). With a clear image in my head, I set about moodboarding through inspiration examples from (the most influential examples I found are included as images 3 and 4). After flushing out the outline I wanted, I set about carving out the internal geometry and styling it with a gradient for dimension, flow, and pop. Feeling satisfied with my handiwork, I expanded the field of view to include all tribal bands thought or known to be affiliated with the Shoccoree (image 5). Finding a whitespace imbalance between the thickness of the text and the hollowness of the bear (image 6), I inverted the white space dynamics to show the gradient. By filling in the bear with the gradient, I achieved the “carved” aesthetic I mentally associated with the description of the birch bark map (image 7).

Although we were unable to verify the bear as the Shoccoree clan symbol, the bear is closely associated with members of my immediate family. Amongst connections to the bear held by members of my immediate family, my late brother is known as “little bear”.

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