Born in Tuba City, AZ in 1966 and raised in White Mesa (between Tonalea and Kaibeto, AZ), Patrick Scott is of the Bitterwater Clan, born for the Manygoats Clan. Patrick was raised very traditionally, and did not speak any English until he was introduced to the boarding school system at age seven. His childhood was spent herding sheep, horses, and cattle. Taking care of his family’s livestock was apart of everyday life. Patrick attended the Tuba City Boarding School beginning in third grade, and in 1985, he graduated from Tuba City High School. Upon graduating from high school, Patrick pursued higher education at Haskell Indian Jr. College in Lawrence, KS. Patrick earned an Associate’s Degree in Welding from Haskell, then moved on to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from NAU in 1995. The result of countless hours of studying, many of which were spent trying to master basic reading skills. Patrick’s determination and strong work ethic served him well at college and continues today in his art.
Patrick began making fans while he was still in high school. Upon graduating from NAU in 1995, he decided to pursue his art full-time. Prior to that, his amazing talent and beautiful creations were well-known only to family and close friends. It didn’t take long for his art to become world renowned. Today, his creations can be found in permanent collections of major museums such as: the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, OK, the “Smithsonian Museum:” - Museum of the American Indian in New York City and Washington, D. C., as well as galleries and private collections that span the globe. He also makes ceremonial prayer fans used in many Native American ceremonies and rituals, and fans used in Pow-wows. His gourd rattles, staff sets and drumsticks are valued by the Native American community for use in their own tribal ceremonies, healing rituals and other religious purposes.
The prayer and blessing aspect of his art is very close to Patrick’s heart. Knowing that his fans may be used to help those experiencing difficulties in life, emotional or physical illness drives Patrick to fashion his creations with the utmost care, attention to detail and with the wisdom of his ancestors. Native Americans use his creations to communicate with the spirits of the four directions, Mother Earth and Father Sky to call upon their blessings, energy and wisdom in times of hardship, as well as in times of good fortune and blessing. Each component of his fans has special meaning and purpose, and therefore the raw materials are chosen with care and purpose.
Materials available to Patrick are more modern than what traditional artisans used. His feather-work, for example, comes mainly from the body feathers of goose, pheasant, turkey, macaw, parrot and occasionally duck. Patrick also makes use of natural and dyed feathers. Patrick chooses the best quality materials available for all components of his creations, such as the bamboo sticks used for extenders on the stems of his feathers, and the commercially-tanned deer skin hides that make up the fringes on his fans, the stem of the fan, and the holder of the fans. The intricate beadwork on Patrick’s fan and gourd rattle handles, hair ties, drumsticks, lanyards and key chains is in a class by itself.
Patrick chooses to use impossibly small seed beads (mainly size 15 seed beads and occasionally 13 glass seed beads*) for his creations to achieve the intricacy of design that has become one of his trademark talents. Another testament to his creative talent is the invention of a unique beadwork stitch developed in 1991 by Patrick and his brother Bennie, known as the gourd stitch. He also uses the more traditional Peyote stitch, brick stitch (also referred to as the Comanche Stitch) and straight stack stitch. Special thanks to Wilbert Mike for passing much of this type of work to Patrick too!
Patrick then carefully washes each feather using traditional herbs used by Navajo and passed down from his elders. The next two days in the process involve streaming, flattening and extending the extending the feathers with bamboo sticks. Patrick’s feather work is customized for each client depending on the purpose of each fan, such as Native American Church ceremonies, Pow Wow Dances, or some other use. For personal fans, special detail is given to the details of the featherwork, beadwork, and the designing of the fan, based on what the individual wants. Special requests is usually given to the artist to incorporate into each special order.
The beadwork, thread work and feather work in Patrick’s fans and creations are very carefully matched in color, design, purpose and his client’s preferences. This coordination of every aspect of Patrick’s creations is something that is rare and unique. Each aspect and component of Patrick’s creations are carefully planned and depend on Patrick’s personal knowledge of each client. Getting to know his clients and customers personally is one way that helps Patrick create personal and meaningful fans that his customers will treasure.
The feathers Patrick uses for the majority of his customers are parrot, macaw, pheasant, Impeyan and turkey feathers. Only a select few are from eagles and/or hawks, due to Federal regulations that dictate who may carry or possess feathers from these species of bird. In addition to other requirements set by Federal law, those who possess feathers from these bird species must be at least ¼ Native American and must be an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe. If all legal requirements are met, individuals can get eagle and hawk feathers from the National Eagle Repository after completing an application. This process means that some fans that Patrick creates can be extremely valuable and rare, and it may have taken his clients many years to collect the feathers.
Considering that most birds molt once per year, and the feathers must be paired for use in a fan, it often takes many months for Patrick to collect the best and most suitable feathers for his creations. Patrick’s flat fans are usually an odd number of feathers so there can be one center feather, with pairs emanating from there. Dancers mostly prefer wing feathers, and the tail feathers are the first choice of members of the Native American Church members.
It has taken Patrick many years and dedicated effort and work to refine his art and distinguish himself as arguably one of the best fan makers to be found anywhere. His art has taken him far from home, and yet constantly keeps him tied to his people, his traditions, his homeland and his culture. Owning a feather fan made by Patrick is an honor, and he brings dignity, respect and tradition to his craft – something that is becoming harder and harder to find.