Published on November 26, 2013 by Amy
Ryan is a 21 year-old college student of mixed Lakota/Apache heritage, from the Hill Country of Texas. Ryan’s grandmother named him “Wambli Cikala” (Little Eagle) and passed on the knowledge of the old ways from stories her grandmother had told her. Ryan learned what he could about native culture from listening to stories told by the few who remembered the old ways of “the people”. Always knowing he was different from most other peers his age; during his early childhood he often starred into the distance, as if searching for answers to questions from long ago. It was not until he met Mato, a Hidatsa Elder that he began to find a direction toward answering the angst he felt burning inside his heart. Excited, Ryan began attending the area’s Intertribal Powwows, asking questions about the drums, dancers, artifacts and handcrafts brought to the gatherings. Uncertain of himself at first, he felt like an outsider intruding in someone’s home; except, that all the sights, sounds and smells were as familiar as home. Browsing the vendor booths, he stopped by one and picked up a Harjo cane flute. He placed the light wood of the cane to his lips and covered the small holes with his fingers down the front. The first sounds of music came as he moved his fingers nimbly down the barrel, as if; he had many times before in another time or place.
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Since then, Ryan has written his own music, played, produced his CD’s and marketed himself as a native flute player. Currently he is signed with Spirit Wind Records, and has released two albums: Straight from the Heart (2011), The Long Journey Home (2013). He has received recognition for his music including: Spirit Wind’s, first ever, Rising Star Award (Spring 2012), the 2012 Silver Arrow Award and was nominated at the Native American Music Awards for 2013 Best Flutist and won the award for Debut Artist of the Year for 2013. Little Eagle has enjoyed performing for diverse crowds, all over the United States including: Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, South and North Carolina, Montana, New Mexico, Florida, Georgia, and Arkansas.
Besides playing the flute, Little Eagle is an avid Native American Cultural Educator, music-writer, drum-maker and traditional-dancer who has come a long way in the past four years and still has a long way to go. He regularly promotes those who have helped him along his way including his mentor and good friend, Dana Ross (flute-maker).
Many people refer to Ryan a bright, kind, caring young man. Many others call him wise beyond his years, and compliment him on the respect he gives to the people he meets. But if you ask him about how h thinks he is, Ryan usually responds, “Aint nothin special bout me, I’m just a natural born man, I’m not anymore, I’m not any less, I’ve just been blessed with many great teacher.” Ryan usually goes around the powwows helping everyone he can.
Ultimately Ryan hope to be able to tell stories that people will be interested with his flute. Playing straight from his heart Ryan hopes to bring joy to others with his music. With the help of his father, Dana Ross, Jon Sarantos, JJ Kent, and Spirit Wind Records there is not telling what is on the rise for this young man.