Lots of character, beauty and spirit in this solid bore Fremont Cottonwood (Populus fremontii) branch flute. Measuring 20" in length, with a 3/4" diameter sound chamber she is clearly and soulfully voiced to a Mode 1&4 Gm pentatonic scale, also playing an in-tune A# major scale starting on the second hole up. The natural star-shaped pith in the knots of this branch have been inlaid with crushed turquoise. Crushed jet stone has been inlaid around the knots to help stabilize the bark there, blending in with the natural dark spalting present in this particular branch. Deer leather lacing with turquoise and onyx beads secures the bird to its nest. To help prevent wet-out, the bird has been fitted with a cedar shoe and a drain hole, covered by the lacing, has been designed into the bottom of the air chamber. The branch for this beautiful flute was gathered with respect and gratitude after falling from a cottonwood tree growing in the
San Marcos Creek watershed of California.
From Wikipedia: Native Americans in the Western United States and Mexico used parts of the Fremont cottonwood variously for a medicine, in basket weaving, tool making, and for musical instruments. The inner bark of Fremont cottonwood contains vitamin C and was chewed as an antiscorbutic, or treatment for vitamin C deficiency. The barks and leaves could be used to make poultices to reduce inflammation or to treat wounds. The Pima people of southern Arizona and northern Mexico lived along Sonoran Desert watercourses and used twigs from the tree in the fine and intricate baskets they wove. The Cahuilla people of southern California used the tree's wood for tool making, the Pueblo peoples for drums, and the Lower Colorado River Quechan people in ritual cremations.
Black Elk relates why the cottonwood tree is sacred: ”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.”