Published on February 26, 2013 by Casey
Hawk Littlejohn (June 12, 1941 – December 14, 2000) is considered to be one of America’s greatest contemporary Native American flute makers. At the time of his death, he was living in Old Fort, North Carolina, where he made his flutes and kept alive his native Cherokee traditions. His expertise in Native American medicine afforded him a position as adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s medical school, and as a cultural consultant for the Smithsonian Institution and the North Carolina Museum of History. He also wrote essays on Cherokee life, traditions, spirituality, and medicine in a column called “Good Medicine” for the Keetoowah Journal. An important aspect of Hawk’s spirituality was his commitment to environmentalism and the connectedness of all life. The flute was his connection with the past and the future, and he combined historical and modern methods in its making. Like many flute makers, Hawk often used dead wood or scrap wood, especially due to the quality of wood in the wild and of old growth wood used in the old buildings. He used a modern lathe to shape the flute, but burned the holes in the traditional fashion with heated steel rods. His flutes are collected and played by flutists all over the world. Many flute makers find inspiration from Hawk Littlejohn’s nature-themed symbolic flute designs and original hand-carved details.
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