We use the Internet for all sorts of things, to keep track of our friends on Facebook, to watch silly cat videos on Youtube, maybe even to do our banking. One young Mohawk man from the Tyendinaga territory is using the Internet to fund his passion for carving. Rahkaratahkwas Will Fisher, Mohawk bear clan, has opted to use the “crowdfunding” website Kickstarter.
Crowdfunding is a relatively new phenomenon, where an individual uses the Internet to secure financing for a project, cause, or service from a large group of people. Although typically people give in small amounts, crowdfunding adds up to quite a lot of money. According to Bloomberg.com crowdfunding was a $5.1 Billion industry in 2013.
Rahkaratahkwas started when he was just 15 years old, teaching himself to carve turtle shells faces and dragons. At the age of 19, he learned from the Powless family, who are master carvers, when he spent time in Grand River Territory. There he learned the fundamentals of carving. Fisher works with a wide variety of mediums, carving from wood, stone, bone and antler, all of which he acquires from the bush.
He built himself a small 8×8 workshop out of plywood that he presently works out of. Fisher admits that it is woefully inadequate, “Things always have to get moved around to do any sort of job, sometimes its a bit of a hazard,” said Fisher in an interview. If successful, he will use the money acquired through the fundraiser to build a bigger workshop and acquire tools such as a band saw. He makes a wide variety of pieces, from stone carvings to lacrosse sticks to hunting bows.
Fisher plans on hiring people from the community once the operation is fully functional, he also plans on hosting an annual archery competition, with proceeds going to language programs for children and adults.
Rahkaratahkwas’ company is called Kehnteke Designs, his website features a number of pictures of his work and can be found at www.kehntekedesigns.com.
The link to his crowdfunding page can also be found on his website. Presently backers of the project are eligible to receive a photo, a soapstone carving, or an arrow, depending on the amount given.