The Mississippi River provided an essential resource for the tribe's people: river cane. This Chickasaw necessity was used for everything from basketry to tool making – disciplines that are still passed down at the Chickasaw Cultural Center.
Michael Cornelius is a flute maker who specializes in crafting traditional Chickasaw flutes he constructs from river cane. His Chickasaw heritage fuels his desire to share his craft skills with any willing Chickasaw, but he glows with pride when he talks about how his son, Tim, has followed in his footsteps. He has taught his son how to make flutes because it is part of who they are as Chickasaws, but also because it helps pass ancient Chickasaw tradition from one generation to the next.