Flute types: top two, Bird Head flutes; bottom two, Zitkala flutes.

Example of Bird Head flute.

Example of bead work on flute.

Example of wood carving on flute.


Flutes: Consistent with the traditions of the Lakota, all of my flutes are made of Western red cedar, also known as clear cedar.

Each flute is worked completely by hand for the entire process, which takes 25 to 40 hours from start to finish.

Just as each piece of wood is different, so too are the voices of the flutes made from the wood.

Each flute has a sound that may never be created again. Each is truly one of a kind. For this reason, the prices also vary from flute to flute.

Bead work: Brain-tanned or commercially-tanned deerskin is adorned with Italian glass seed beeds, glass crow beads, solid fench brass beads and tin or brass cones, fastened with elk or buffalo sinew.

Here, pieces of my traditional dance regalia show the intricacy of what can be done with lazy-stitch, a way of fashioning beads used by Lakota people.

Whether it is something traditional or taylor-made, bead work adds a finishing touch.

Front of a beaded yoke.

Beaded moccasins.

Beaded cuffs.


Traditional elk-hide hand drum with cottonwood frame, painted design and beaded beater.

Another traditional drum and design.

Drums: Made of elk hide, these drums are strong enough to endure the heat of a sweatlodge, where most deer drums are too thin.

The frames of the drums are made from cottonwood, and the beaters are made of wood and hair-stuffed leather with beaded handles.

Designs may be traditional or custom made.


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Page design and photos by Eric M. Smith. All original artwork by Thomas White Hawk.