History of the Native American Flute
The picture to the right shows us a double and single chambered 6-hole flute. Below that is a bone whistle made by my Hopi mother. The cut beads and whistle are over 30 years old. This which produces a high-pitched whistle that accompanies James' music.
Before we start, let me state the following is a composite of my personal opinion and Native American legends and stories.
The Native American Flute's primary purpose is to win over the female gender; to play her a song and enchant her heart. This is from the plains people, but we are all related. You can pick up a Native American Flute and play for the sole purpose of entertaining family or friends. If nothing else, have fun, enjoy the music and let it touch your spirit.
From a Hopi perspective, you may have heard of the legend of Kokopellie. If not, let me tell you about him. He has become a dominant figure in the Southwest. The humpback flute player has numerous reasons of how he came into existence. Being a Hopi descendant of the Gresewood Clan from my Grandmother's side of the family, I have heard many stories and legends. Kokopellie could bring rain to the Hopi rain crops in the middle of the desert, or bring fertility to the Hopi villages. Yet he lived over 3000 years ago, long before North America was titled that.
I believe Kokopellie was of Mayan, Aztec or Incan origins from what is now known as South America or Mexico. From there, Kokopellie brought his spiritual magic within himself, playing his chants with deep concentration. He was aware of our two worlds; the world in which we stand and the world of The Great Spirits.
As he traveled North to the four corners region of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah, the first people to recognize his gift was the Hopis, who he lived among as a spiritual deity.
According to Hopi folklore, his adventures did not end with the Hopi people. He moved throughout the four corners region, for Anaszi people began to leave his trademark along cliff and canyon walls dating back 3000 years ago.
Currently, in Hopi culture, they honor Kokopellie in a ceremony every other year to keep the universe in balance.
When Kokopellie appeared, he used a traditional 5-hole flute. Today, you will see mainstream flutists using the 6-hole flutes. The flutes have become a hand carvers work of art, usually made of Western Red Cedar. Each taking a week to create, each never the same, like twins. They can look alike, but carry on like people with their own personality and identities.
Today, you will come across flutes with 2 or 3 chambers. They will give you a sound of many flutes playing together. I've also encountered bone whistles made of eagle or wild turkey bones. They produce a high-pitched sound used during sun dances, powwows or spiritual callings.
Overall, I possess and utilize these musical instruments of prehistoric melodies, just as Kokopellie. As one of his children, or Kokopellies Flute Child.
With all respect to flute enthusiasts, I not only share my opinion, but what I believe. The Native American Flute brings pure and honest enlightenment to all walks of life.
The history of the flute will always remain a mystery, just as the stars and galaxies. This new millennium of mankind is here for now, but Kokopellie will remain with me throughout eternity.