Native American-Style Flute Maker
Jim “Bear Claw” Morehouse

Jim is an accomplished maker and player of Native American-style flutes, residing in Virginia. Born in Yakima, Washington, he actually grew up in Montana and has been living in Virginia since 1974.

Jim has a passion for these wooden six-hole flutes, and he has a flair for teaching how to make them. A Lakota flute player at a dinner party first introduced him to Native American-style flutes. Ever since hearing their wonderful sound, Jim has been hooked. At the time, he was learning how to make wooden long bows and his wife brought home a book on Indian bows. The book contained a few pages with brief instructions on making a Native American-style flute. With these instructions, encouragement from a friend, and a piece of wood, Jim set out to try and make a flute. Jim's first flute was a success and he has been playing them ever since.

Jim was once told that every tree has a song and with this always in his heart, he wishes to share his wonderful instruments with you. While the first step in making a Native American-style flute can be to find the right tree and to see the flute inside of it, any piece of suitable wood can be a fine starting spot. Next comes the personalized forming of the flute to fit the maker's arms, hands and fingers, hollowing out the bore to make the unique resonance, drilling the six finger holes, and sealing the mouthpiece’s pressure chamber.


A
"bird" is tied with a leather thong on top of the wooden flute and is important in making the flute's smooth but distinctive sounds. Because no two flutes are identical, each has its own special ethereal sound. This means each flute tends to be played solo, as when a man is courting a woman. With slight adjustments to the initial finger hole positions and a standardization of the bore hole diameter and length, flutes can be tuned to play in almost any major or minor key.

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