Measuring 19 1/2" in length, with four tuning holes, this intact, unsplit Cottonwood (Populus fremontii) branch flute is sweetly and accurately tuned to a C# minor pentatonic scale, playing 2 upper octave notes. The bark has been left on and well sealed to insure its continued adherence to the wood. All nine knot holes, each in the shape of a five-pointed star characteristic to the Cottonwood tree, and spiraling around the branch, have been inlaid with crushed turquoise. Buffalo (American bison) lacing with turquoise and brass beads holds the bird to the nest. To help prevent wetout, the bird has been fitted with a redwood shoe and a drain hole, covered by the lacing, has been designed into the air chamber. The branch for this flute was gathered sustainably, with respect and prayer, from a tree that grows in the San Mateo Creek watershed of southern California.
Black Elk relates why the Cottonwood tree is sacred to the Lakota:
”Long ago it was the cottonwood who taught us how to make our tipis, for the leaf of the tree is an exact pattern of the tipi, and this was learned when some of our old men were watching little children making play houses from the leaves. This too is a good example of how much grown men may learn from very little children, for the hearts of the children are pure, and therefore the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss. Another reason why we choose the cottonwood tree to be at the center of our lodge is that the Great Spirit has shown to us that, if you cut an upper limb of this tree crosswise,there you will see in the grain a perfect five pointed star which, to us, represents the presence of the Great Spirit. Also perhaps you have noticed that even in the very slightest breeze you can hear the voice of the cottonwood tree; this we understand is its prayer to the Great Spirit, for not only men, but all things and all beings pray to Him continually in different ways.” ~ Black Elk
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