What are primitive skills?

At Laughing Coyote, we use primitive skills to connect to the natural world. “Why primitive skills?” one might ask. We define primitive skills as “First Skills”, the skills practiced and used by our ancestors in daily life. We have found that in the practice of primitive skills, the skills used by our collective ancestors, we strip away the layers disconnecting us from the earth, and begin to form profound authentic relationships to our selves, our community and the natural world.

There are many misconceptions about the skills, and the correct context. Our goal here to offer an idea of what we are trying to accomplish, and what Laughing Coyote is not. Please understand that there is quite a bit of overlap between outdoors skills, and we have been known to jump back and forth, though always explaining ourselves along the way. For example, the bowdrill, a method of starting friction by fire, is a primitive skill, that could be used in a survival situation, and is used on bushcraft trips. Understanding context is key.

All of our instructors are passionate students as well as teachers. We are not masters of these skills, merely further along on our journey. There is a great deal we do not know. However, as passionate students, we live the skills everyday, practicing, searching out the best teachers we can find, attending gatherings and being a part of the cross-pollination of skills.

What Laughing Coyote is NOT:

What Laughing Coyote IS:


Primitive Skills- “First Skills”, the knowledge and wisdom that was utilized by human beings around the globe in their daily life. We define primitive skills as those that were accomplished with only stone tools. Examples: friction fire, stone tools, cordage.

Ancestral Skills-The skills used by our ancestors. Many of the skills we teach are universal, meaning they were used by people all over the world. These are the skills of the past, living deep within our collective memories. Examples: bowmaking, basketry, pottery, hide tanning.

Traditional Skills- Pre-Industrial skills after the use of metal was adopted. At Laughing Coyote, we teach traditional skills, and utilize them on a daily basis, as a way to simplify our lives, live in a self-reliant manner, but still participate in the modern world. Examples: blacksmithing, canning, gardening, flint and steel firemaking, knife and axe craft.

Bushcraft-Combining backpacking with traditional and primitive skills. Intensive knowledge of knife use, fire, lightweight gear. Examples: tarp shelters, billy can cooking, spoon carving.

Survival Skills- Skills to use in a life or death situation. Emergency skills for extreme wilderness scenarios. Examples: first aid, signaling, fire making, water purification, maintaining body temperature.

Want to learn more?

Please feel free to send over any questions: we love sharing our educational philosophy, programs, and skills. And we hope to see you around the farm in Boulder County’s beautiful Colorado landscape.

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