Bringing rivercane to life to create one-of-a-kind Native American flutes

Tim Cornelius is a family-oriented Chickasaw musician and craftsman. He practices the art of flute making with his father, Michael, who taught his son both how to make flutes and how to be proud of his Chickasaw heritage. Tim says he swells with pride every time he’s able to bring a piece of rivercane to life.

Tim and Michael harvest and cut the rivercane themselves and use only the best pieces to create their one-of-a-kind flutes. Burning that last hole and putting the top on the flute, Tim says, gives him a great feeling of knowing that he can play a song out of something he made with his own two hands.

Playing his flutes takes Tim to a special place inside, and he feels it helps him to connect to the heritage of his ancestors. As his father, Michael, explains it, the pasttime “comes to life” as it’s passed from one generation to the next.