Joe “Hugga” Dana Video Transcript

Visual: Title card featuring an image of a carved wooden walking stick on the left.  It has a man’s face, Native American features, and wearing a feather headdress.  On the right is an image of a young man in a black t-shirt sitting at a table.  Text reads: Joe “Hugga” Dana, Penobscot Woodcarver.

Visual: Joe sits at a kitchen table on which are pieces of wood and various knives.  He is holding a carved walking stick and speaking to someone off-camera.

Voice of Joe “Hugga” Dana: My name is Joe Hugga Dana.  My dad is Stan Neptune and he taught me to carve when I was about 13 or so years old. Yeah, he ended up teaching me and at a young age…

Visual: A brief closeup of Joe’s hands as he carves a face into a walking stick, removing small chips with a small utility knife.

Voice of Joe “Hugga” Dana: and I think I carved my first walking stick then with him – sat down with him, went through the steps of carving out a face in the walking sticks, which are made of poplar or “popple”.

Visual: Joe sharpens his utility knife at the table. You can hear the hissing sound of the knife being sharpened behind his words as he speaks.  The video cuts briefly back to the closeup of Joe carving the face, then back to Joe sharpening his knife.

Voice of Joe “Hugga” Dana: When I first started to carve, of course, you have to learn how to sharpen your knife and and I didn’t really grow as a carver until I was able to sharpen my own knives because I’d have to have my dad do it all the time. It’s a big part of carving, you know, you can’t carve unless you have a sharp knife. And you have to learn those techniques, once you do have a sharp knife, to use it in a manner where you’re not going to be cutting yourself all the time.

Visual: Joe sitting at the kitchen table.  On the table are unfinished walking sticks and finished, dark-colored root club.  Video briefly cuts to a pan over a cluster of shiny wooden snakes – very straight and well-decorated – nestled artistically in a bed of curly wood shavings.

Voice of Joe “Hugga” Dana: So I thought it would be neat just to try it myself as a carver. Just like the snow snakes; it’s been so long since somebody tried carving one of those. My dad was like “Yeah we should just try to do it.” You know, “We can do it.” So we did it. It was pretty neat to see that, to see it work.

Visual: A group of people outside on a bright day with snow on the ground.  The snow is crisscrossed with long narrow tracks and the people are taking turns throwing snowsnakes across the surface or down prepared tracks.

Voice of Joe “Hugga” Dana: At one time it was a favorite pastime for the kids of the community.

Visual: Joe at the table holding a large wooden snake.  Others sit on the table in front of him and he picks them up. They are different lengths and widths. All have intricate designs.

Voice of Joe “Hugga” Dana: This one I put the word in our Penobscot language [word in Penobscot] which means “snowsnake” in the Penobscot language.

Visual: Video Joe at the table with the various snowsnakes is interspersed with a brief closeup of the face of the snake being carved into the end of a piece of wood and with shots of people playing with snowsnakes on a sunny day in the snow.

Voice of Joe “Hugga” Dana: Most of the ones are carved out to look like a snake – they get the eyes and the mouth. On an icy track, this one’s heavier and it’ll probably go faster – the ash. This one’s better because it’s wider and it’s got more of a curve to it – better for like a soft snow. It’s kind of neat because they all have their different… they all function differently because of the design. This one is, uh, maple. This one’s maple. These two are maple.

We actually had some kids carving the snakes but they were made out of poplar, which, poplar’s a real light wood. I did mine out of maple and towards the end of the day we’re all throwing this one because it was going the furthest because it’s more denser wood. It also helps to get them real straight.

Visual: Brief shots of Joe using a drawknife to shape a long block of wood into a crude snake shape.

These actually take a lot of work. Especially if using hand tools. I’m sure if somebody who had all the fancy woodworking, uh, a workshop type – they could probably do one fairly quick, probably, with sanders and stuff. When I selected the wood, the head part, you’re cutting a tree that’s, you know, that large,

Visual: Joe uses is hands to show a circle approximately the size of a large grapefruit in diameter.

Voice of Joe “Hugga” Dana: starting up here making the head and then tapering it right down,

Visual: Joe has finished with the drawknife and now uses a small plane to further shape the wood into a more recognizable snake-head shape.

Voice of Joe “Hugga” Dana: so you’re actually taking away a lot of the wood. They don’t have to dry that much longer but they have to be smooth, you know, sanded- well sanded,

Visual: Joe uses sandpaper to smooth the length of the snowsnake.

Voice of Joe “Hugga” Dana: like, really polished up, with starting with heavy grit sandpaper down to fine, fine, fine sandpaper.

Voice of Gretchen Faulkner: And this was the style you and your father came up with?

Voice of Joe “Hugga” Dana: Yeah, from what we found in our history books. Just an upturned ski shape, a heavier front and a tapered end.

Visual: A man uses a strap to pull a small log through the snow, forming a track. A younger man straddles the track and throws a snowsnake down it – the snake appears to slither as it bounces along the edges of the track.

Voice of Joe “Hugga” Dana: When you make a track and you throw a snake down it they they go pretty far, but it appears that it’s alive and wiggling back and forth. Most of the ones that we’re making I wanted to keep just to introduce them to the kids and schools, possibly, and even maybe winter carnivals.

Voice of Jennifer Neptune: So you’re really reintroducing the tradition.

Voice of Joe “Hugga” Dana: Yeah that’s what it is, it’s reintroduced. You get older and you sort of come back to your roots and want to learn want to learn more about traditional ways and stuff like that.

Visual: A dark, very shiny snowsnake is thrown along the surface of the snow, gliding lightly toward the camera with a hissing sound.

Voice of Joe “Hugga” Dana: I think it was great to teach the kids at the young age just so they have that, and that they experience that. That way they know they can come back to something.


Featuring: Joe “Hugga” Dana

A Collaboration of: The Hudson Museum and the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance.

Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance is supported in part by: Artography, a grant program of Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), funded by the Ford Foundation.

Video Documentation Provided By: ASAP Media Service (Mike Scott, Alexander Gross, Yeshe Parks, Will Seyffer, Justin Taylor).

Millie Rahn, Folklorist.

Hudson Museum: Gretchen Faulkner, Director; Stephen Bicknell, Still Photographer.

Funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Also made possible by The University of Maine.