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Talking sticks spark creativity

POLSON — Walk into Polson High School, and all around are talking sticks, made by PHS art students. 

The sticks are displayed crosswise on poles in the lobby, above Principal Rex Weltz’s office door, in the library and in the halls. 

Matt Holmes, PHS art teacher, took an Office of Public Instruction class on making talking sticks as art therapy. Historically, Holmes said, different tribes used talking sticks in council and may still. Today Boy Scout troops use the sticks to designate whose turn it is to talk. 

“All my classes made them. ... They needed a day to just get after it,” Holmes said. 

Holmes gathered more than 100 short sticks one Sunday and then had an assortment of things for students to decorate their sticks with — twine, leather pieces, paint, yarn, wire, shiny ribbon, felt, duct tape, pine needles, leaves, fabric.

Student Thunder Morales used red spray paint, red and black jewels and tinsel, “since it had to be decorative,” Morales said. 

“It was fun,” Saydee Butte said.

She used yarn and dangles and left some wood showing. 

Saying the project was all right, Jax Wedrick said he braided twine and used the braids as decoration. 

Paula Symington spray painted half of her talking stick, then used wire and ribbon and wired her brand onto the wood.

Kids who hadn’t “said two words” were sitting together and talking as they worked, Holmes said.

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