News Releases

September 09, 2010

Mount Independence Hosts Atlatl Contest

ORWELL, Vt. – Have you ever wondered how primitive people managed kill the food they ate with only stone tools?

Journey back to the ancient past, before the invention of the bow and arrow, to experience how people the world over hunted big game at the Fifteenth Annual Northeast Open Atlatl Championship on September 18 and 19, at the Mount Independence State Historic Site in Orwell.

“This is a new venue for us,” said Elsa Gilbertson, Regional Sites Administrator with the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. “Traditionally, this event has been at the Chimney Point site, which had to be closed for the 2010 season due to the construction of the Lake Champlain Bridge.”

The public is invited to watch or participate in this colorful event, which features exciting but friendly competition as well as Native American and primitive skills and crafts demonstrations.

The atlatl is a shaped wooden stick that acts as an extension of the throwing arm, so hunters can hurl spears or darts with greater accuracy, energy, and speed.

“Competitors range from novices to some of the best in the world, and from the young to young at heart,” Gilbertson said. “The event, co-sponsored by the Vermont Archaeological Society, is one of the highlights of September’s Vermont Archeology Month.”

The main competition is on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Contestants test their prowess with the atlatl in a variety of events, including “hunting” mammoth, bison, and other game targets; shooting at modern day bulls-eyes in the International Standards Accuracy Competition (ISAC); and competing in a distance challenge.

Winners in each category compete in a shoot out at the end of the afternoon for the title of Grand Champion. Visit for an atlatl championship registration form or call (802) 759-2412. Spectators are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.

On Saturday skilled artisans and craftspeople will be demonstrating a variety of Native American and primitive skills, including atlatl, spear, bow, arrow, and cordage making, with Bob Berg and birch bark container making with Tom Mowatt.

Starting at 10:00 a.m. there will be daylong workshops on flint-knapping (making tools from stone), sponsored by the Vermont Archaeological Society, and Woodland pottery making with Charlie Paquin.

Archeologists will be on hand so the public is invited to bring any artifacts for identification. Poppy’s Copper Top Kettle Corn will have a food concession.

Both Saturday and Sunday there will be showings of the film, Champlain: The Lake Between, at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. At 3:30 p.m. Saturday enjoy a short guided walk on the Southern Battery Trail.

Sunday morning, starting at 10:00 a.m., is a smaller International Standards Accuracy Competition as well as flint-knapping and Woodland pottery workshops.

Afterwards, at about 11:45 a.m., there will be a master coaching class offered by champion atlatlists for children and interested adults, and there will be a short guided tour of the Southern Battery Trail at 1:30.

There is a daily $5.00 contestant fee, which includes museum admission. Event admission is $5.00 for adults and free for children under 15, and includes the workshops and general admission to the Mount Independence museum and trails.

Please note that the Southern Defense Trail south of the parking lot will be closed for the weekend. There will also be an atlatl-making workshop on Friday, September 17.

Although there is a change in venue for the atlatl event, the weekend is part of the fourth Festival of Nations with the Crown Point, NY, State Historic Site, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year with exciting programs on September 17 and 18. Call 518-597-4666 for details on Crown Point offerings.

Mount Independence is open daily, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., through October 12. It is located at 497 Mount Independence Road, six miles west of the intersections of Vermont Routes 73 and 22A.

Source: Division for Historic Preservation
Last Updated at: September 09, 2010 09:02:18