CRESTVIEW — An exhibition of American Indian masks and artifacts at the Crestview Public Library through April 30 is a glimpse into the regional indigenous people’s creativity and artistry.


CRESTVIEW — An exhibition of American Indian masks and artifacts at the Crestview Public Library is a glimpse into the regional indigenous people’s creativity and artistry.



The display features historic pottery and contemporary reproductions by Crestview resident Romaneth Blackwood, a Blackfoot Indian and retired archeologist who rescued many of the pieces from development sites.



"I made it a point to rescue as much as possible before it was destroyed," he said, noting that pieces were collected with property owners’ permission.



Blackwood recreated the centerpiece warrior masks, some of which featured more than 300 pieces. The self-taught artist dug and refined the clay before working and firing the artworks.



The public will never see some of Blackwood's most striking works because the delicate firing process destroyed them, he said.



"You have to get it near the fire and dry it out or it will explode in your face," he said. "I had many, many beautiful pieces just blow up."



Several masks on display are reproductions that Blackwell created.



"All the masks are copies of individuals who were dog warriors," Blackwood said. "They were the warriors who would stay behind and fight to their death while the rest of the tribe got away."



Some of the artifacts, including sitting or squatting effigies, represent Creek Indian history. Blackwood's extensive collection traces all eras of the nation, beginning around 300 A.D.



The library exhibit marks only the third time in 20 years that Blackwood has displayed pieces from his collection, which contains more than 100,000 original and recreated artifacts.



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Romaneth Blackwood’s American Indian pottery, arrowheads and masks are on exhibit until April 30 at the Crestview Public Library.



Contact News Bulletin Arts & Entertainment Editor Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or brianh@crestviewbulletin.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.