MIDWEST CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – The bones of winter are cold as death and bare as a leafless tree branch in January.
But the season doesn’t stop people like Bird Mountain.
“It keeps me going,” she says.
She is a proud Dakota who proves that even the coldest of days contain life beneath the frosty surface.
Mountain informs us, “I have a freezer full of bones right now.”
Bird takes the piles of buffalo bones she collects from sources all over the Great Plains and works to reveal the life contained inside.
“I like the legs. I like the ribs,” she continues. “Buffalo is our sacred animal. There are lots of prayers in our work.”
She started with antlers more than 30 years ago, recovering from addictions that kept her in their own kind of winter prison.
“I’ve been clean for 31 years now,” Bird says, “and it’s helped my own healing process.”
Buffalo bones proved the best fit for what she wanted to do.
Now, each of the pieces she creates is its own kind of prayer, of thanks for keeping her on the right path, and of hope that if finds the right person.
Much of her bone jewelry is given away.
“I can’t choose,” she explains. “In my beliefs, when somebody needs something it will go to them.”
The bones Mountain uses make a good backdrop for inlays of color, ground down to almost powder then applied with glue, the excess sanded off.
Showing us a piece of unworked bone, Mountain wonders, “Isn’t it amazing that something so ordinary looking can come out looking like this.”
Even the tiniest bone fragment might have a use.
True to her people and to her own history, nothing is thrown away.
“I have plates of bones. I used just about everything there is,” she insists.
Winter isn’t so much a time of death as a time for sleep, waiting for just the right catalyst to reveal the hidden life that always lay within.
“I’d rather stick with bone,” she laughs.
Mountain Bird sells her buffalo bone jewelry at Pow Wows all over Oklahoma.
On January 28 -29 she’ll be set up in Concho, Oklahoma.
On February 4th she’s planning on selling her wares at a benefit powwow at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds in Norman.