Love Flute courtship

All legends of the native love flute illustrate the importance
of love music in courtship.




There was a time before flutes . . .

Many generations ago, the people had drums, gourd rattles and bull-roarers, but no flutes. At that time, a young man went out to hunt. The people in his camp were hungry as meat was scarce.

He found the tracks of an Elk and followed them for a long time. The Elk, wise and swift, is the one who owns the love charm. If a man possesses Elk Medicine, the girl he likes can't help liking him, too. He will also be a lucky hunter.

This young hunter had no Elk Medicine. After many hours, he finally sighted his game. Although a skilled hunter, the Elk always managed to stay just out of range, leading him deep inside a thick forest. The tracks had disappeared and so had the Elk. There was no moon. He realized he was lost and, it was too dark to find his way out.

He came upon a stream with cool, clear water.where he stopped to drink and eat food that he had brought with him. He rolled himself into his fur robe, propped his back against a tree and tried to rest. But he couldn't sleep because of the strange noises that filled the forest, the "groaning" of trees in the wind, and the cries of night animals such as the owl. It was as if he was hearing these sounds for the first time.

Suddenly, he was aware of an entirely new sound, one that neither he nor anyone else had ever heard before.The sound was mournful and ghost-like; it made him afraid, so he drew his robe tightly about himself and reached for his bow, making sure it was properly strung and ready for immediate use.

As frightening as the sound was, it was also like a song, sad but beautiful, full of love, hope and yearning. Before he knew it, he was asleep, dreaming of the bird called wagnuka, the redheaded woodpecker. In his dream, wagnuka appeared singing the strangely beautiful song and telling him, "Follow me and I will teach you." The sun was already high when the hunter awoke the next morning. On a branch of the tree against which he was leaning, he saw a redheaded woodpecker who flew from tree to tree, but never very far, looking back all the time as if to say, "Come on!" Suddenly, he heard that wonderful song again, and his heart yearned to find the singer. Flying toward the sound, leading the hunter, the bird flitted through the leaves, while its bright red top made it easy to follow.

At last, the woodpecker lighted on a cedar tree and began hammering on a branch with his strong beak, making a noise like the fast beating of a small drum. A gust of wind arose, and again the hunter heard that beautiful sound right above him.
Looking up, he discovered the song came from the dead branch on which the woodpecker was tapping his beak. He realized it was the wind which made the sound as it whistled through the hole the bird had drilled.

The hunter took the branch, a hollow piece of wood full of woodpecker holes that was about the length of his forearm. He walked back to his village bringing no meat, but happy with his discovery.

In his tipi, the young man tried to make the branch sing for him. He blew on it, he waved it around, no sound came. It made him sad. He wanted so much to hear that wonderful new sound. He purified himself in the sweat lodge and climbed to the top of a lonely hill. There, resting with his back against a large rock, he fasted, going without food or water for four days and nights, crying for a vision which would tell him how to make the branch sing.

In the middle of the fourth night, wagnuka, the bird with the bright red top, appeared, saying, "Watch me," turning himself into a man, showing the hunter how to make the branch sing. In his dream, the young man observed very carefully, as instructed.

When he awoke, he broke off a branch from a cedar tree and, working many hours, hollowed it out with a bowstring drill, just as he had seen the woodpecker do in his dream. He whittled the branch into the shape of the birds with a long neck and a open beak. He painted the top of the birds head with washasha, the sacred red color. He prayed. He smoked the branch up with incense of burning sage, cedar and sweet grass. He fingered the holes as he had seen the man-bird do in his vision, meanwhile blowing softly into the mouthpiece. All at once, there was the song, ghost-like and beautiful, that drifted all the way to the village, where the people were joyful to hear it. With the help of the wind and the woodpecker, the young man had brought them the first flute.

NOTE: This legend has been edited from historical documents and is believed to be of public domain.

Copyright © 2015 Crazy Crow Trading Post LLC, All Rights Reserved

[The article from which the above description was taken -- -- is no longer available.]

Native Flute

Kokopelli legends




Love Flute courtship

Love flute music spoke a language of the heart.



A very long time ago there was a young man who was very interested in a beautiful young girl. He was always trying to get her attention, but she never seemed to notice him. Whenever she was present he would ride his horse proudly, but nothing he did seemed to attract her. One day when the girls were down by the river getting water, the young man went down to the river and began diving off rocks and swimming across the river, to show her how skilled he was, but again she paid him no mind. Dejected, the young man walked into the nearby old growth forest and sat down at the base of a long dead cedar tree. As he sat there thinking about this girl, a woodpecker landed on a hollowed limb that was over his head, the limb had been hollowed over time from the wind and weather. The woodpecker began to peck holes....tap, tap, tap......... along the length of this hollowed limb........ tap. tap, the woodpecker pecked, the limb broke off and fell next to the young man, and as the wind blew over this hollow limb with the holes in it, he heard musical voices coming from it. He picked it up and found that when he blew into this limb and covered the holes, he could make beautiful, mournful music to match the feelings in his heart. He sat there for a time making up haunting melodies. The young girl heard this music coming from the old growth forest, and it was such a soulful sound that it captured her heart. She followed the sound of music into the woods, where she saw him sitting there at the base of this cedar tree playing this first flute that was given to him by the Woodpecker, and as she listened she fell in love with his music and fell in love with him. They went off hand in hand to live happily ever after. One of the more popular uses for the Native Flute was for courting, to attract a mate. The legend also says that once you got a mate, you were to put the flute away and never play it in public again, because if you played it in public again, you might attract someone else?

Phillip Brown Bear

There are many stories as to the true origin of the native flute. This story was told to me by a Lakota Elder, Mr. Phil Lane (Phillip Brown Bear) just months before he passed on to the spirit world.

[The website from which the above article was taken -- -- is no longer available.] 2019


Native Flute

Kokopelli legends




Love Flute courtship

His love flute music spoke from his heart to hers.



The Story of the Love Flute

A long time ago, there lived a young man who was very shy. He was brave in battle, and led the buffalo hunt with courage, yet when it came to speaking his love to the girl he wanted to marry, he was too shy to speak. He would stand helplessly, his eyes cast to the ground, while other young men stood with their courting blankets outside the tipi of the girl's father.

The young man thought about the girl day and night. In his dreams she was still there before his eyes, yet even in his dreams he lacked the courage to tell her of his love.

He watched her from a distance when she fetched water from the river, and his heart was heavy when he saw the other young men who talked to her so easily, whistled to her to gain her attention, and in a hundred ways vied for her love. The young man was sure that the girl did not notice him

One day, his heart aching, he left the camp and wandered alone. In despair he drew his bow and without a thought he let fly an arrow into the air.

To his amazement the arrow stayed aloft. It seemed to him that the arrow pointed ahead. He followed the direction of the arrow and found that it moved ahead at a steady pace which he could follow. He followed the arrow all day, and when evening came the arrow fell to earth beside a stream.

He slept beside the stream, and in the morning shot another arrow into the sky. Again the arrow stayed aloft, and led him on. That evening it, too, sank to earth beside a stream. This continued for a total of four days.

On the fourth day the young man slept at the edge of a forest. In that half-dream state between waking and sleep, two Elk Men appeared to him, and told him that they had come to help him. "We have come to give you this flute", one said, and when he blew into the flute he carried, the sound was so beautiful that even the forest stood breathlessly listening.

The Elk Man told him, "This flute is made from the wood of the cedar, because cedars grow where the winds blow. Woodpecker made these finger holes in the flute with his beak."

The other Elk Man told him "All the birds and animals helped to make this flute, and their voices sing within it. When you play this flute for the girl you love, all our voices sing with you. Your music will speak the words of love that your voice alone cannot."

Then the Elk Men were gone, but there, lying on sage leaves, was the flute. The young man set off towards his home, his heart light. He played the flute as he walked, and the cranes joined in his song. For four days he walked, playing his music, and listening to the sounds of the animals and birds. He imitated the sounds of the animals on his flute, and from those sounds he made melodies

As evening drew near on the fourth day, he reached the hill above his camp. There he paused to play his flute, and the sounds of the beautiful music he made carried into the camp and thrilled the heart of every woman there.

But one woman, the girl he loved, knew that the music spoke straight to her heart. The girl left her tipi and joined the young man on the hill. She listened to the words of love that his music spoke more eloquently than his voice could express. "I love you. I love you."

This love flute story was written by Paul Goble.

[The website from which the above article was taken -- -- is no longer available.] 2019


Native Flute

Kokopelli legends



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