Advanced primitive skills

Visitors to North Mountain Park are invited Tuesday, Aug. 19 and Tuesday, Aug. 26 from 10 a.m. to — p.m. to participate in the making of a traditional fiber roof for the shade structure that is part of the park's Native American Village Display.

The roof will be made out of a combination of cattail and bulrush, also known as tule. The roof will be formed into a thatch-like pattern, but visitors will also get to see (and participate in) the making of a mat-style roof.

As part of the project, visitors will also have a chance to learn how to make a traditional rope, or cordage, out of the dogbane plant. When finished, the roof will be secured to four poles and will part of a permanent display depicting the life ways of the Shasta Indians. The Shasta, who were hunter-gatherers, lived in Southern Oregon for thousands of years before being forcibly removed to a reservation by settlers in the mid-1800s.

Instructors Jerry Peters and Myron Cretury have years of experience working in the area of primitive skills.

Peters became interested in learning primitive craftsmanship at a young age by working with his father, whom Jerry refers to as "an old German Gypsy who could make just about anything with his hands." Peters also gained an appreciation for Native American craftsmanship from his Ojibway mother and grandmother. He honed his skills over the years while running his Iron Feather blacksmith shop in Ashland. Today, he enjoys working with people young and old in the sharing of all kinds of primitive skills and knowledge.

Cretury has been teaching primitive and practical skills for several years in an effort to help build community by empowering people to use local materials in a sustainable manner. He is currently involved in showing students of all ages how to create fire by friction, make fiber mats and hats, and create cordage out a variety of local materials.

The North Mountain Park Nature Center is located at 620 N. Mountain Ave., Ashland. For more information, contact Kari Gies at 488-6606 or

Share This Story