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“Pipe Makers of the Great Basin” video shows 100-year-old’s American Indian craft

03 20 15 Pipes of Hilman Tobey

At 100 years old, Hilman Tobey fashions stone into American Indian art in a form he learned late in life. In a quietly reflective video, Tobey shows an apprentice how his pieces take shape and inspiration for use in traditional ceremonies. A Nevada Arts Council grant helped create “Pipe Makers of the Great Basin.” The film premiered in February and is now online at under Nevada Stories.

Tobey is a Northern Paiute living at Reno Sparks Indian Colony. The short film by Gabe Lopez Shaw captures the master artist teaching pipe-making skills to Norman Zuniga. Tobey talks about the materials and tools used to make pipes and the origins and uses of ceremonial pipes in prayer.

The project is one of many in Nevada Stories, an online video series that focuses on folk and traditional artists, specific local traditions and Nevada’s landscape. An outreach activity of the Nevada Arts Council’s Folklife Program, and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, it honors the council’s mission to provide folklife education to all age groups and to highlight the individual artists, traditional communities, and cultural sites that make Nevada distinctive.