Native American Love Flute Legend

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There was a time before flutes . . .

Many generations ago, the people had drums, gourd rattles and bull-roarers, but no flutes. At that time, a young man went out to hunt. The people in his camp were hungry as meat was scarce.

He found the tracks of an Elk and followed them for a long time. The Elk, wise and swift, is the one who owns the love charm. If a man possesses Elk Medicine, the girl he likes can’t help liking him, too. He will also be a lucky hunter.

This young hunter had no Elk Medicine. After many hours, he finally sighted his game. Although a skilled hunter, the Elk always managed to stay just out of range, leading him deep inside a thick forest. The tracks had disappeared and so had the Elk. There was no moon. He realized he was lost and, it was too dark to find his way out.

He came upon a stream with cool, clear water.where he stopped to drink and eat food that he had brought with him. He rolled himself into his fur robe, propped his back against a tree and tried to rest. But he couldn’t sleep because of the strange noises that filled the forest, the “groaning” of trees in the wind, and the cries of night animals such as the owl. It was as if he was hearing these sounds for the first time.

Suddenly, he was aware of an entirely new sound, one that neither he nor anyone else had ever heard before.The sound was mournful and ghost-like; it made him afraid, so he drew his robe tightly about himself and reached for his bow, making sure it was properly strung and ready for immediate use.

As frightening as the sound was, it was also like a song, sad but beautiful, full of love, hope and yearning. Before he knew it, he was asleep, dreaming of the bird called wagnuka, the redheaded woodpecker. In his dream, wagnuka appeared singing the strangely beautiful song and telling him, “Follow me and I will teach you.”

The sun was already high when the hunter awoke the next morning. On a branch of the tree against which he was leaning, he saw a redheaded woodpecke who flew from tree to tree, but never very far, looking back all the time as if to say, “Come on!” Suddenly, he heard that wonderful song again, and his heart yearned to find the singer. Flying toward the sound, leading the hunter, the bird flitted through the leaves, while its bright red top made it easy to follow.

At last, the woodpecker lighted on a cedar tree and began hammering on a branch with his strong beak, making a noise like the fast beating of a small drum. A gust of wind arose, and again the hunter heard that beautiful sound right above him.

Looking up, he discovered the song came from the dead branch on which the woodpecker was tapping his beak. He realized it was the wind which made the sound as it whistled through the hole the bird had drilled.

The hunter took the branch, a hollow piece of wood full of woodpecker holes that was about the length of his forearm. He walked back to his village bringing no meat, but happy with his discovery.

In his tipi, the young man tried to make the branch sing for him. He blew on it, he waved it around, no sound came. It made him sad. He wanted so much to hear that wonderful new sound. He purified himself in the sweat lodge and climbed to the top of a lonely hill. There, resting with his back against a large rock, he fasted, going without food or water for four days and nights, crying for a vision which would tell him how to make the branch sing.

In the middle of the fourth night, wagnuka, the bird with the bright red top, appeared, saying, “Watch me,” turning himself into a man, showing the hunter how to make the branch sing. In his dream, the young man observed very carefully, as instructed.

When he awoke, he broke off a branch from a cedar tree and, working many hours, hollowed it out with a bowstring drill, just as he had seen the woodpecker do in his dream. He whittled the branch into the shape of the birds with a long neck and a open beak. He painted the top of the birds head with washasha, the sacred red color. He prayed. He smoked the branch up with incense of burning sage, cedar and sweet grass. He fingered the holes as he had seen the man-bird do in his vision, meanwhile blowing softly into the mouthpiece. All at once, there was the song, ghost-like and beautiful, that drifted all the way to the village, where the people were joyful to hear it. With the help of the wind and the woodpecker, the young man had brought them the first flute.

NOTE: This legend has been edited from historical documents and is believed to be of public domain.

Native American Love Flute Legend – Related Products

The following items are used in the above-article, or may provide added reference and helpful information.

Bamboo Flute

Product No. 6510-012-800

$3.60

A high quality flute produced for use as a dance whistle. This is the very best quality on the market. 5/8" diameter, 12" long.

Native American Style Cedar Flute Kit

Product No. 4833-012-900

$23.00

Now you can have the enjoyment of constructing your own "Love Flute" and adding your personal, distinctive finishing touches. The kit includes everything necessary to make a finished flute: 2 pre-hollowed flute halves in traditional, aromatic cedar, 2 leather thongs, reed material, pre-shaped volume control, simulated sinew & Native American Flutes booklet with illustrated assembly instructions and tips on learning how to play your flute, as described above.

Kit includes:

  • 2 pre-hollowed flute halves
  • 2 leather thongs
  • reed material
  • pre-shaped volume control
  • simulated sinew
  • 2 brass spots
  • illustrated instructions, NATIVE AMERICAN FLUTES

Native American Style Cedar Flute Kit, Pre-Drilled Holes

Product No. 4833-012-901

$25.00

Now you can have the enjoyment of constructing your own "Love Flute" and adding your personal, distinctive finishing touches. The kit includes everything necessary to make a finished flute: 2 pre-hollowed flute halves in traditional, aromatic cedar, 2 leather thongs, reed material, pre-shaped volume control, simulated sinew & Native American Flutes booklet with illustrated assembly instructions and tips on learning how to play your flute, as described above.

Kit includes:

  • 2 pre-hollowed & pre-drilled flute halves
  • 2 leather thongs
  • reed material
  • pre-shaped volume control
  • simulated sinew
  • 2 brass spots
  • illustrated instructions, NATIVE AMERICAN FLUTES

The Art of the Native American Flute

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$19.95

R. Carlos Nakai & James Demars - Divided into several sections, this well written book is a summation of Carlos Nakai's years as an educator, performer and student of the Native American flute. Covering everything from tuning, fingering, style, history and even a section on care and maintenance of the flute. Also included are numerous transcriptions of songs from Nakai's recordings. This book is an important source on the Native American flute and a concise review of the career and artistry of one of the most important ethnic artists in America. 121 pp: heavily illus. SC

Engraved Cedar Indian Love Flute - Treble, with Flute Book

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$165.00

Treble, size: 20" x 1-1/8" - Our standard flute, now concert tuned. Key: "Gm".

Also includes Chazanoff Flute Music Book (4106-004-074).

We are proud to introduce our line of engraved flutes. Each is carved from aromatic cedar to give an optimum playing sound. All come with etched designs around holes. Enjoy these skillfully hand-crafted Indian flutes. All flute sizes are approximate.

Native American Flutes - Crazy Crow Instructional Booklet

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Ten pages on learning to play the flute, with 6 traditional Lakota, Kiowa, Mandan & Zuni songs, plus illustrated instructions for flute kit assembly.

Native American Courting Flute Manual & CD Set - Jeff Ball

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$16.95

Jeff Ball's Native American Courting Flute Manual & CD Set is the best instructional manual & CD available For learning to play and maintain your flute. We've teamed up with well-known recording artist Jeff Ball to produce this enhanced version of the old "Trailhead" book along with a new CD!

Jeff covers all aspects of playing and caring for your flute, including the legend, getting started, melodies and advanced play, along with choosing your flute, trouble-shooting and song writing tips.

Included is music for several practice songs and scales, all in an easy-to-follow format. The 40 page manual comes with an interactive CD developed exclusively to go along with it, and contains many illustrations and several color photos.

The Native American Flute - Understanding the Gift (with CD)

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(WITH CD)

$30.00

A CD and 90-page illustrated text combine to provide an interactive guide for learning to play a 6-hole Native American flute. It's comprehensive, covering basic notes, finger placement and breath control, various scales, and the basics of reading music notation while including 25 songs of both Indian and traditional popular culture. The author, a professional woodwind player and educator, presents six progressive lessons, each building on the skill and knowledge learned in the previous one. He also covers the flute's history and the techniques necessary to enhance the player's appreciation and mastery of this beautiful instrument.

Woodpecker River Cane Native American Flute

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$65.00

Made by Native American flute craftsman Robert Bushy, these wonderful Native American flutes are fashioned from real river cane. Each flute is personally tuned and ready for use. The plain 6-hole river cane flute is approximately 22" long. The woodpecker flute, approximately 24" long, is hand-painted and adorned with feathers and cones to give it that individual appeal.

Traveling Flute

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$25.00

For a near-indestructible flute, this is the ticket! It's made of PVC, but don't let that fool you. This 5-hole, 16" x 1" instrument is produced in a Native scale in concert pitch and can be played with other instruments, plus it has a lovely wood-like sound, complete with harmonics. Take it on the road when you don't want to risk damaging your expensive Native American flute, and enjoy making quality music.

Native American Flute Bag with Fringe

Product No. 4524-211-001

$18.95

Protect your flute from scratches and dings with this nifty fringed bag. Measuring 24" in length and is completely hand-made from cowhide or buckskin. Assorted earth-tone colors.

Flute Songs of the Kiowa & Comanche- Indian House CD

Product No. 4001-251-213

$16.00

Southern Plains

Contents: 13 traditional songs (including the Kiowa flag song, love songs, and Comanche hymns)

Singers: Tom Mauchahty-Ware

Recorded at: Hog Creek, Oklahoma, June 1, 1978

Tribe: Kiowa, Comanche

Canyon Riding Song

Love Songs of the Lakota-Performed on Flute by Kevin Locke - Indian House CD

Product No. 4001-431-513

$16.00

Contents: 12 traditional Lakota love songs performed on flute by Kevin Locke

Singers: Kevin Locke on flute

Recorded at: Storm Mountain, Black Hills, South Dakota, September 1-2, 1982

Tribe: Lakota Sioux

I'm Crying Looking for You. Learned from Ben Blackbear Sr.

Native American Love Flute Kit

Product No. 4833-012-902

$27.50

Make your own custome Native American Love Flute

Also known as a "courting flute", this kit provides everything you need to make a truly unique Native American Love Flute.

Cut from aromatic cedar, this kit includes:

  • two flute halves
  • "birdie"
  • sinew
  • leather lace
  • reed material
  • sandpaper
  • loon head pre-form
  • assembly instructions

Legend of the Native American Love Flute

People listen to and play the Native American flute for any number of reasons: reflection, meditation, relaxation, even prayer. According to the Lakota Legend of the Flute, this was not the intended purpose.

The "love flute," according to legend, was originally an instrument of courting. The legend speaks of a young man, while hunting in the forest, came upon a tree which had been eaten away by termites and pecked with holes by woodpeckers. As the wind stirred, a beautiful sound came from its branches. The young man removed a branch and returned to his village. This branch would become the first flute. As an instrument of courting, the flute was played only by men. It was believed that when a young man played his flute, the wind would carry the song into the heart of his chosen love. Read Lakota Love Flute Legend

Today, Native American flutes are used for many reasons besides courting, and more and more woman are making and playing flutes as well.

2016-12-21T23:49:18+00:00