Marlin Kills-In-Sight

Sioux Folk Artist Marlin Kills-in-Sight

Marlin Kills-In-Sight - Implements: To take in hand a spear made by Marlin Kills-in-Sight is to be transported to another time and place. There is a feeling of strength and nobility that seems to flow from the stave. "I think of what my grandfather did before me, and I do it," Marlin says of his craft, which includes bows and arrows, horse dance sticks, and rattles. Authentic in every detail, Marlin's work is a profound reflection on his Sioux heritage, a proud heritage he wants to share with others.

A Brule Sioux of the Sicangu Lakotas, Marlin Kills-in-Sight was raised in Rosebud and Spring Creek, South Dakota; names which reflect the poetry of the skilled craftsmanship in Marlin's pieces. In the Indian way Marlin calls the man who taught him his craft "Grandfather", but Noah Kills-in-Sight was actually Marlin's great uncle.

Grandfather Noah taught Marlin how to cure deer hides and to use the horns and hoofs of the animal. Adding to his ancient knowledge that has been passed down through the generations, Marlin has a love for his work, a talent. Speaking of his talent, Marlin says, "It's just something that was given to us from up above. I'm glad I learned."

There is an undeniable spirit about Marlin's creations. He modestly admits, "I put a lot of thought and pride into my pieces."

Marlin carves his dance sticks from redwood or oak. Oak is harder to carve, but has a nicer grain to it. He uses synthetic sinew - a rare concession to modern technology - only because it is much more durable and resilient to decay. He sometimes "antiques" his leather or rawhide, but doesn't define the process, preferring to call it a trade secret. Soft rabbit fur and feathers decorate his pieces, the varied feathers coming from colorful roosters, turkeys, and pheasants. Porcupine quills are difficult to obtain, but when he can he also includes them.

Marlin often paints horses on his work because he was raised around horses and has a respect and love for the animal. An intricate band of beading usually sets off the piece.

Marlin is a traditional Sioux and is currently preparing his three children for their name giving ceremony. This is necessary that their prayers will have more power. This is the kind of power one feels in the presence of Marlin's work. "I started because others didn't seem to know what it was really all about. I wanted pure representations."

Marlin thinks he made a conscious choice to carry on the traditional crafts of his people, but his wife puts it another way: "It was always in Marlin," she affirms.

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This site was last updated on September 23, 2020.

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