‘My Story’ returns to the Native American Cultural Museum in Cassidy Park Sunday

Published 12:22 am Friday, August 3, 2012

The guest speaker for the upcoming “My Story” program at the Native American Cultural Museum in Cassidy Park on Sunday at 2 p.m. will be Grant A. Cheramie. A resident of Cut Off, he will be telling his story about his heritage, and how he learned to make handcrafted native flutes some 14 years ago. He also learned of his Mi’kmaq heritage while pursuing flute-making knowledge.

Cheramie said he didn’t find out about his Mi’kmaq ancestry until he and his wife attended a pow-wow in Oklahoma, searching for her heritage, which includes both Cherokee and Blackfoot.

“I was just walking around,” he said,” and there was an Indian elder selling flutes.”

Cheramie struck up a conversation with the man, who asked him, “Do you have time to sit?” Cheramie said yes, and sat and learned from the elder for more than four hours.

Native American flute making, according to Cheramie, is “a dying art.”

“It’s not like an American flute — it’s not concert tuned,” he said. “No two (Native American) flutes sound the same.”

And when he returned home, keeping in his head all the instructions on making a flute and also playing the flute, Cheramie said he was astonished when the first one he made worked.

“There’s not a lot of stuff you need in order to make a flute, Cheramie said. The important part, he went on, is “learning to play it from the heart.” There’s music for the flute to be found on the Internet, but following your heart makes the sweetest sound of all.

Cheramie will have some of his own handcrafted flutes on hand to display and to play on Sunday, and he has made a special flute that he plans to donate to the museum.

“I never in my wildest imagination thought that one day I would be speaking at a museum about making flutes,” he said with a laugh.

Join him on Sunday for an interesting demonstration of Native American music.