Traditional Flutes

Chickasaw Culture Keepers

"For me, it's almost like you get up in the morning and go outside by yourself and sing to God," says Chickasaw flute maker Tim Cornelius. "Sing to the Creator and let him hear your voice through the flute." Following in his father's footsteps, Tim began crafting traditional flutes as a child. "He took me kind of under his wing and started showing me how to really make the flute," Tim says. "How to take your time and do a quality job. And I made my first flute when I was 12." Now a seasoned flute maker in his own right, Tim explains the process of flute making that was passed down to him, and why he's now passing the knowledge down to his own son. "Whatever your craft is, when you're passing that on you're giving a piece of yourself to the next generation," he says. "It makes me feel connected to the Chickasaw people to know that I have something I can give not only to my family but to other people."