Native Flute Pre-Dates America’s First Thanksgiving

Identifiable sounds of the season can be strong reminders of holidays past. A seasonal bell, a turkey gobble, or dinner table conversation can trigger memories. But a sound that’s been part of the American landscape since before the first Thanksgiving is rarely heard and one central Ohio resident is working to change that.

The Native American flute has been played for centuries before America was dubbed the “land of the pilgrim’s pride.” Pickerington resident Mark Camden says evidence of flute instrument date back 6-thousand years on the North American continent. But Camden’s keen interest in the instrument began only eight years ago. Now, Camden, also known as Mark Thunderwalker, makes Native American flutes and studies their history. He says the flute is used mostly by Native Americans for highly personal reasons was likely not have been played during the first Thanksgiving meal in 1620 New England.

“Probably a woodlands native would have had a flute at the first thanksgiving. It wouldn’t have been played at the ceremony or at the dinner. The native flute at that time would have been used on a more personal basis, and not in a performance or anything like that.”

Thunderwalker says a Native American flute is recognizable by the little wooden piece that is strapped on with a piece of leather onto the top of the flute. The piece helps direct the air flow to make the memorable sound.

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