Steps to Make Turtle Shell Shakers (Part II)
Step 1 – Pray – Ask Questions – Gather Knowledge and Wisdom
Britteny Cuevas is learning because she prayed for it and the Creator allowed her to receive this lesson. It was all meant to be. If it were not for the Coronavirus Pandemic, she would not have learned these things. It was only because public school and public events were closed that we had time to go turtle hunting. Plus, gas was affordable.
Step 2 – Build a Turtle Transport Carrier
One will need somewhere to keep the turtles because they know how to climb and dig under the ground, the carrier will need to be enclosed with a latch or they will escape.
Gather materials like 2×4’s or scrap materials, use ¼” metal wire cage, drill holes, put together. Make Transport Carrier moveable. One can modify to preferred design. This is a contemporary method.
Step 3 – Turtle Hunt
Luck of the Draw – Britteny would wake up early during the months of April – June (Turtle Season) to catch the Box Turtles “Crawling” or “Walking” on old country roads. The Highways and curvy roads are extremely dangerous. Automobiles are the number one killer of box turtles. Turtle hunting is dangerous. Safety is a concern. Praying every day is a MUST. One is NOT guaranteed turtles. This is up to the Creator. It is all about being in the right place at the right time. This is a contemporary method.
Britteny suggests that one should abide by Oklahoma State Law. An individual is to have only six turtles in possession. Please take the time to read and review Oklahoma State Laws before turtle hunting. Turtles are not for profit.
Step 4 – Keep Your Turtles Alive Until the New Moon
Please, make sure to feed and water the turtles. They do eat worms and bugs outdoors. Turtles favor fruits and vegetables, and meats. Britteny noticed they like tomatoes, grapefruit, banana’s, watermelon, and hamburger meat. Do not keep them in direct sunlight. Check on the turtles to make sure they are right side up. If left upside down too long they can perish. If they perish before the New Moon, one will have to process early and risk the scales will flaking sooner. If Turtle Shell Shakers are made with moon cycles, they can be used for thirty-plus years. If one touches the turtles while pinned up, make sure to wash your hands. Children must ALWAYS wash their hands. The box turtle is normally an isolated creature so when they gather, they can make you sick. Rinse turtles off with water every day. (Read Origin of Disease and Medicine – A Cherokee Story, because the turtles can give you a disease if the process is not properly practiced).
Step 5 – Collect River Rocks
Britteny gathered about 250 lbs. of river rocks this season. She took two big trash cans to the river and shoveled the river rocks in the cans. The best location is after the rainy season in April. Find a place where the water rolled the rocks about a mile or two downstream.
Step 6 – Sift River Rocks
Next, Britteny made three shifters, sizes ¾”, ½”, ¼” metal mesh wire, and wood scraps. This is a contemporary method. She did not waste the large and distortion rocks. She used them to fill the holes in her driveway.
Step 7 – Fast & Pray
This is based upon your own tribal or cultural practices…one must find out and ask elders themselves.
Step 8 – Process Turtles on New Moon
Gather working materials
- Turtles, Pliers, Snips, Filet knife, Sharp Spoon (Preferably Long Teaspoon), Water bucket, Drill, Drill Bits (¼), Bailing Wire, etc.
Step 9 – Process Turtles on New Moon
It is best to get the head off in one clean cut but if you are unable one must stab the turtles in the neck, pull the head out, and clip it off. Let turtle blood drain in a bucket. Take the filet knife cut around the bottom shell, then cut around the top shell. One might have to break a tendon connecting to the turtle shell on top and bottom. Next, you turn the turtle around and cut the bottom then use the filet knife to separate the top shell. Next, take your sharp spoon and scrape inside of the top shell, scrape the breastplate. The goal is to get all the entrails to fall out in one clump. The best way to learn is to do it yourself. Place the cleaned shell in water. It is important to have a bleach bucket and clean water around to wash your hands.
Step 10 – Process Turtles on New Moon
Drill a ¼” hole in every scale in the turtle shell, maybe two depending on the size. This is a contemporary method.
Step 11 – Process Turtles on New Moon
Close back end of turtle
Cut approximately 3″ of baling wire.
Tie shut and twist with pliers.
Step 12 – Process Turtles on New Moon
Fill the empty shell with river rocks
Gather the rocks that have been previously sifted. The best rocks are the ones that resemble a smooth round ¼” pebble. This is to make a good high pitch sound.
Step 13 – Process Turtles on New Moon
Close with baling wire and hang up
One will close the front and/or backshells with river rocks in the shell, twist the baling wire tight. They will be strung up in a dry hot place so the meat will dry up and the maggots will eat the rest of the meat and clean the shell.
Step 14 – Clean and Shine Turtle Shakers
Use lacquer of preference to shine the turtle shells if desired, it helps keep the scales on longer. Let dry.
Step 15 – Put Turtles on Shakers Boots
Gather boot materials
Get old boots two sizes bigger than one would regularly wear, leather/string, metal bevels depending on size boot, and baling wire.
Decide how many Turtle Shakers are going on each boot. Mark where holes for the baling wire to go. Sew in. Get metal bevels and hammer in, and place in the desired number of spots to tie string and lace-up boot for the comfort of Turtle Shell Shakers.
Step 16 – Lace Up Turtle Shell Shakers and Dance
Gather shoestrings, leather, or other desired string to lace-up boots.
Make sure to add a towel so the boots do not rub the legs.
This article is intended to inform others on the steps of Making Turtle Shell Shakers. “I have been very blessed to have been given the opportunity to learn cultural customs and practices to pass on about Turtle Shell Shakers. I thank the Creator. I am thankful for the people he has brought into my life at different parts of my life who were willing to teach me the things I need to know. May I not forget or take them for granted. I ask the Creator to remove all the traps and snares that lie before me as I walk this earth and forgive me of my iniquities. May I forgive my enemies and those who want to do harm to me. May the Creator give me the strength to better myself so that I can pray for others.”