Lakota Flute Sings Again

LLC Board member Kevin Locke has long hoped to promote the traditional sound of the Lakota flute as he learned it rather than the commercialized sound that became popular in the 1980s.  Last year Kevin met Richard Dubé, a Canadian flute-maker and respected music educator working with at-risk children in Canadian urban schools.  Locke saw children of all ethnicities making their own Native-style flutes using Dubé’s custom kits, and then in a very short time being able to play songs on the flutes. Locke and Dubé quickly established a collaboration that will supply Lakota classrooms with Dubé’s flute kits and a lesson book written by the two of them and published by LLC.

The flute kits and the lesson book were introduced at the 2013 LSI, to a class of eight Lakota language teachers and one Finnish linguist attending the Siouan-Caddoan conference.  Richard Dubé came down from Saskatchewan to teach the week-long course along with Locke.  All of the participants made three flutes, to build their confidence in teaching their own students how to do so.

The class was supported by a generous grant from the Puffin Foundation West, which also supported production of the Lakota-language play Iktómi Wičhítegleǧa Siŋté Waŋ Úŋ” (Iktomi Wears A Raccoon Tail, or Iktomi’s Raccoon Hat)  at last year’s LSI.  We are deeply grateful to the Puffin Foundation West for its continuing interest in the work of the Lakota people to re-learn the language in ways that are fun for all generations.

“Songs of the Spirit: How to Play the Lakota Flute the Traditional Way” has been re-titled  Šiyótȟaŋka Yažópi!  Play the Lakota Flute! – A Traditional Indigenous Flute Curriculum and will be published by LLC in Spring 2014.  Kits for the traditional Lakota flute – based on a very old flute in Kevin Locke’s care – are made by Dubé’s company, Northern Spirit Flutes.