Three Tribes Stoneware, Inc.
In November of 1966, James Walker an instructor at the University of Wisconsin in Whitewater was contacted and joined the project. He had worked for a summer assisting studio potter, Peter Leach, in St. Paul, Minnesota and also attended Goddard College in Vermont to study pottery making.
Pottery production began in December 1967 with three good potters from the Ft. Berthold culture, that went through the training program, Youngbear, Blake and Elk. In about February 1968 they went from a non-profit training program to a profit corporation manufacturing pottery (stoneware.) To keep the plant going Walker offered the workers either back salary or interest in the corporation and Youngbear, Blake & Elk took the offer of an interest in the corporation and thereby owning most of the business.
Walker and the staff built a large walk-in kiln and most of the other equipment from potters wheels to shelving. The large walk in kiln was 7 feet deep, 6 feet high and 6 feet wide, had four propane burners and would hold 1,500 or more pieces of pottery. On main street was their retail shop where they displayed and sold the finished stoneware. Walker bought a small kiln to heat the green ware to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit which took 8 hours. This first firing was to give it strength and prepare it for glazing and final firing. The bisque (first fire) ware was then dipped into a liquid which forms the glaze and left to dry for 4 or 5 hours. Then it was put in the large walk-in kiln for the final or second firing. This was a long, high temperature firing (glaze baking), at 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 16 hours and then cooled for 48 hours before removing the pottery.
Unlike some pottery plants Three Tribes Stoneware produced no bisque ware. It's final products are all glazed. They did not use molds for any of their pottery, it was done on the potters wheel.