The primitive skills community

topic posted Wed, April 13, 2005 - 12:26 PM by  Kiliii
Hello everyone!

Just took a brief gander at everyone here-- I don't think I recognize anybody here, but I thought it would be a good idea to list a few of the major primitive skills gatherings that occur each year in the U.S.

Rabbitstick and WinterCount Rendezvous- The biggest gatherings, in Idaho in September and Arizona in February, respectively.

Rivercane and Falling Leaves Rendezvous- The biggest gatherings out east, in Asheville, North Carolina in June and October.

You can look them up online. These gatherings are the best ways to get in touch with primitive skills knowledge and community here in the U.S., and it's almost certain you'll run into me it's Rabbistick or WinterCount!

One more thing-- where is everyone located? I'd like to a get a sense of this tribe's geographic spread.

posted by:
  • Re: The primitive skills community

    Wed, April 13, 2005 - 7:46 PM
    I am in Pennsylvania.....

    Thanks for the heads up on the rendevous, haven't done or been to one for alongggg time over 15 years I think. Would like to go to Ashville though sometime.
    • Unsu...

      Re: The primitive skills community

      Thu, May 5, 2005 - 1:19 AM
      Hi ya'll!
      I'm new to this tribe. Very happy to be here. This is a great tribe!

      I'm from Wisco.. but I'm moving out to Ojai CA in 1 month.. to be a part of a wilderness collective, organic farm. :)

      I haven't been to any primitive skills gatherings.. yet. Well.. I was at a women's action camp in the forests outside of Eugene once.. I learned some stuff there. I'm definatly going to go to any primitive gathering events I can in my future. My focus right now is learning and sharing earth knowlage. :) Very exciteing.

  • Unsu...

    Re: The primitive skills community

    Wed, June 7, 2006 - 6:15 PM
    I am an old man compared to you kerrke -- I am new to this tribe but not to being an abo. I think I passed by you about 9 or 10 years ago at Earth Circle's Rendevous. Time has flown since then -- every once in a while I will see pictures of Chris Moraski in Hollow Top's publications (Elpel's group right?), haven't heard anything from Nil's since about that time too. I also know Adam Fox he is a more of a recent aquaintance, he keeps trying to get me to go to your workshops (laste few years). That is intimidating as hell because your finished product on anything you touch is truly awesome. You are an excellent craftsman. I stayed with Digger & Lynx for a month back in the day and they taught me how to brain tan. I don't know if they are still around but I was also friends with the "Okies" Seth, Whitehawk, & Rebecca.
    I tanned a few hides last winter -- but have really let my skills slide. I still have the interest, but spend most of my time doing my profession. I am an acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist in Portland, and at some point between the wife, son, and business something had to slide. But now the wife has moved on, and all I do is work. I think some weekend I might call adam, and come catch one of your gigs.
    Anyhow I just thought I would add my comments -- I think one of these years I will go to a gathering and offer my skills as a healer -- maybe this coming wintercount. Is the SPT still in charge of organizing that?

    Zai Jian

    Jonathan Schell L.Ac.
  • Unsu...

    Re: The primitive skills community

    Thu, June 8, 2006 - 3:28 AM
    i'm not 100% sold on the term "primitive". it suggests indigenous craftwork is a static artifact, a stoneage fossil that does not evolve and adapt. that would mean it is dead, and as you know better than anybody, it's not. maybe the term "pre-colonial" would be more appropriate?
    • Unsu...

      Re: The primitive skills community

      Thu, June 8, 2006 - 4:09 AM
      I have followed Tyson onto this tribe because of this discussion about so called primitive skills. If you think about it, nothing could be more primitive than dance. There is evidence of dance dating back centuries and most likely everyone in this tribe can cite an example. What is relevant for the future will survive the tests of time as dance is doing and therefore primitive might be a misnomer. It is the master crafts men and women, the artisans that carry the skills and the artefacts, building materials whatever are the illustrations of climate, environment, available resources, education etc.
    • Unsu...

      Re: The primitive skills community

      Thu, June 8, 2006 - 4:26 PM
      The primitive skill community are a group of people that exist out there, often living their summers with nothing more than a knife or things that they can make with their hands, or some even live this way year around. They refer to themselves as Abo's or Aborignes or primitives, but the point is not about a name. It is living a life style that is definitely not modern, it is not even pre colonial (because that word could also have multiple meanings). You can call the group of people that are out there right now living this way what you like, but they will refer to themselves as they like as well without generally the input that I as an armchair observer will name them. I guess what I am saying is that yes you are right Tyson -- tools do adapt. The difference in making fire with a bow drill to a hand drill was revolutionary -- less effort, less things to carry around -- and from a hand drill to a pump drill is next to a mechanical break through. But the people doing it, even with these advances will still consider themselves primitive, because they are not modern.
      But if you want to talk about a skill set like gunsmithing, powder making, and other types of blacksmithing then IMO you are definitely talking about pre-colonial. I think for me it is because when I think about pre-colonial I think about skill sets that require tools other than a knife to perform them. When I think of Primitive -- these are things I can do with either a knife or even stone. So maybe you had it right when you said "a stone age fossil" because the skill sets for primitive life often require no additional tools besides what could be made with stone tools. Well enough for now.
      • Unsu...

        Re: The primitive skills community

        Thu, June 8, 2006 - 6:11 PM
        Hi Jon,

        I noticed on your profile page that you are interested in Qigong. How do you think that can be described in the light of this thread?

        • Unsu...

          Re: The primitive skills community

          Thu, June 8, 2006 - 11:50 PM
          You would have to explain more Judith about which part of the thread I would attach Qi Gong comments too ... Do you mean as a primitive skill? Or as to Kerrke seeing who is on this site? Or as like in Shamanism? I will not try to describe Qi Gong as anything for to do so would take much more time to explain than I have. So strictly translated Qi Gong means Energy Work. Just as Primitive skills require energy & work. Much farther than that and you are going to have to be a bit more specific so I know how to best answer you.

      • Unsu...

        Re: The primitive skills community

        Fri, June 9, 2006 - 2:33 AM
        yeah, you're right. all labels are problematic. what is important is the intent, and your intent is obviously not colonial. maybe you and i will go bush one day... anyway, til then, keep those skills alive, bro.
        • Re: The primitive skills community

          Fri, June 9, 2006 - 7:44 AM
          1. Of or pertaining to the beginning or origin, or to early times; original; primordial; primeval; first; as, primitive innocence; the primitive church.
          2. Of or pertaining to a former time; old-fashioned; characterized by simplicity; as, a primitive style of dress.
          3. Original; primary; radical; not derived; as, primitive verb in grammar.
          4. (biology) Occurring in or characteristic of an early stage of development or evolution.

          In my experience, the primitive skills invoke a living connection with the old ways. I find it helps to understand where we are if we know where we have been. (if only our politicians would do the same…)

          Getting’ primal,
          • Unsu...

            Re: The primitive skills community

            Fri, June 16, 2006 - 2:13 AM
            There is a postcard campaign from Survival International, aiming to eradicate popular notions of indigenous peoples as "primitive".

            The caption on the front of the Stamp It Out postcard campaign from Survival International says,

            "No bombs, No prisons, No poverty, No homeless, No junkfood, No pollution, No sweatshops. And people call them primitive. Racism kills tribal people. Stamp It Out."

            On the back it says,

            "Terms like 'primitive' and 'stone age' have been used to describe tribal people since the colonial era. They reinforce the idea that these peoples have not changed for generations. But this is not true. All societies adapt and change - not just ours. Tribal people are no more 'savage' than the rest of us. The idea that tribes are backward leads directly to their persecution. For example, it is claimed that forcibly developing tribes is 'for their own good', and helps them 'catch up' with the 'civilised' world. The results are almost always catastrophic: poverty, alcoholism, prostitution, disease and death. I hope you will refrain from using such terms in the future."

            Go to for more info and a link to where you can get free postcards, or an email proforma.
            • Unsu...

              Re: The primitive skills community

              Fri, June 16, 2006 - 2:15 AM
              A quick search for keywords associated with "primitive" turns up "untamed, wild, unruly, unrestrained, uninhibited, undisciplined".
              • Unsu...

                Re: The primitive skills community

                Fri, June 16, 2006 - 10:59 PM
                Uninhibited can be good when it concerns dance and all cultures and communities have disciplines of some sort. Folklore has shaped many of the customs of today. That is the tapestry of living that we have the opportunity to see and sometimes experience. Artisans have a role to play for the wellbeing of the future.
              • Re: The primitive skills community

                Sun, September 24, 2006 - 7:09 AM
                The root of primitive is prime, witch to me means the best. We are not likley to stop useing this word because many of us have based our lives around it. It reminds me of a time when I tried to stop useing the word Indian to describe native americans when thats what they call them selves mostly.
  • Re: The primitive skills community

    Fri, June 23, 2006 - 10:47 AM
    I'm living in Chapel Hill, NC. I believe we have met though...weren't you at earthskills a few years back right after your abo experiment in the NW woods....I remember a story about you lying in a field resting with your bow beside you, awaking to a deer right in front of you, yet you couldn't reach your bow without scaring it away...was that you? That story has such ironic really showed me how much patience is needed to really hunt for survival and not just abundance. Anyway, even if you're not the person who told me that's still a good one. Hope to see you at a gathering soon.
  • Unsu...

    Re: The primitive skills community

    Mon, January 22, 2007 - 5:24 AM
    I am working as a wilderness instructor for Outward Bound Discovery in FL, SC, & AL. Trying to find ways to mix more primitive skills into our already jam-packed program. Hoping to make it to Rivercane this year, and I'm apprenticing at BOSS later in the summer.
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      Re: The primitive skills community

      Mon, January 22, 2007 - 11:16 AM
      I'm the director and head instructor at the California School of Traditional Hispanic Herbalism. My colleagues pretty much consider me a "primitive" due to the way I process and use medicinal herbs. For the last three years I've taught at the Mid Atlantic Primitive Skills meet in Maryland and will again this year. Anyone interest in attended should Google MAPS, or Mid Atlantic Primitive Skills...the spaces are limited this check it out. Hope to see some of you there.
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    Re: The primitive skills community

    Tue, May 13, 2008 - 2:35 PM
    Hi All,

    I'm from Minnesota. New to the Tribe scene. Have wanted to go to Rabbitstick for years but life has gotten in my way. Anyone near Minneapolis who would like to meet?
  • Unsu...


    Tue, May 13, 2008 - 4:37 PM
    Right now I am at the Slickrock Gathering hosted by the Boulder Outdoor Survival School (in Boulder, Utah, not Colorado). We're having a blast. Good food, colorful characters, good company. Music around the fire at night. Workshops in primitive pottery, medicinal plants, flint knapping, and gourds. Beautiful country.

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