The first flute was given by the creator to an orphan boy so that he could keep his spirits up, according to the stories of Southeastern Indian tribes.
Some of the continent’s earliest flutes were made from river cane. Joints in the cane form natural chambers in which the air can circulate, making it the perfect raw material and lending it a distinctive sound. River cane flute builder Lewis Johnson said the Indian flute is a spiritual instrument with healing properties. “When birds sing in the morning, they are said to be showing their happiness at the beginning of a new day. It was thought that we humans should do the same.” The Indian river cane flute is particularly adept at mimicking the natural world, from the flowing of rivers to the howling of wolves. Johnson brings native crafts like flute building to life in an authentic early 19th century Muscogee/Seminole hunters’ camp. Seminole Indian living history displays The living history hunter’s camp centers around the lean-to, an Indian branch and shrub structure which resembles a tent. In and around the lean-to, Seminole, (Muscogee) Creek and Cherokee Indians demonstrate traditional crafts like brain tanning, flint knapping, basket weaving, flute, blowgun and arrow making, and pastimes like music and storytelling. The living history display features every year as part of the Seminole Nation Museum’s contribution to the Wewoka Sorghum Festival. The festival, which takes its name from a molasses-like sweetener, celebrates the main players in Seminole County’s history, the Seminole Indians, the pioneers and the freedmen. The Seminole Nation Museum There are 500 mostly Indian artworks in the Seminole Nation Museum’s collection, including bronzes, sculptures and paintings. The museum’s largest exhibition is devoted to the origins of Seminole Indians, including their history in the East and their removal to Oklahoma. Seminole arts and crafts for sale The gift shop is one of the Seminole Nation’s most popular attractions. It’s crammed with Seminole and Indian artifacts including jewelry, local silverwork, beadwork, Seminole patchwork and even patches to make your own patchwork. Seminole patchwork Seminole patchwork originated from the need to make and repair clothes from bags of rags in hard times. As the craft improved and the clothing became prettier, demand for the distinctive style grew. According to Seminole Nation historic preservation officer, Natalie Harjo, patchwork fits well with the Seminole character. “They weren’t a people who were big into regalia,” she said. Seminoles traded for goods rather than for money. When they did come into possession of a coin, they would often embroider it into their clothing. Seminole stomp dances Today, this make-do-and-mend mentality can be seen in the shakers worn by women at stomp dances. Traditionally, these would be made from tortoise shell. But today,they are likely to be repurposed condensed milk tins. Harjo said that the stomp dances started as a healing ritual. Seminole Oklahoma Know It Cultural Awareness Oklahoma Know It