Delbert carves primarily from Pillar (black) slate, Zia alabaster, also called “white buffalo turquoise,” and catlinite (or “pipestone”). Pipestone, used for ceremonial smoking pipes, and representing the blood of the ancestors, is particularly sacred to the plains tribes,
Delbert use a specific carving ritual to invest his fetishes with the spirit and power of the stone. He starts by washing with sweet grass and offering prayers to the Creator, the ancestors and the stone people. He gives an offering of tobacco or other substance to Mother
Earth, thanking her for the precious minerals.
People ask how Delbert decides what animal to carve. His answer is typical of that given by most sculptors. The stone tells them what animal spirit is inside. But, for Delbert, the process is much deeper. Animal spirit is not just the evidence of the animal's presence. It is the animal itself, with all the power and support the animal can bring to the fetish owner.
He starts each carving by “blocking” the stone, removing its outer layer. Once that is done, the carving is placed in water, with a request to the water that it bless the stone. The surface of the stone fetish is smoothed and polished while it is underwater. This encourages the positive energy of the water to enter and be absorbed by the stone. When the smoothing is completed, the carving is held up to the Sun, with the request that the Sunboy drink water from the stone and bless the emerging fetish.
To be continued