India Jones had never touched a flute until she spent a week on a horse farm in Culpeper, Virginia at the Pathkeepers Native Youth Culture Camp.
The 11-year-old Lumbee student learned to play the instrument in less than two hours under the guidance of Abenaki camp staff member Gali Sanchez.
She said “playing the flute was peaceful… I just breathe, and whatever comes from your heart and what you are feeling, that’s what comes out of the flute.”
She and others who learned the flute would accompany campers during spoken-word poetry and stories they had written at camp.
“I’ve never experienced anything like India in my 61 years. How a young girl picks up a flute for the first time, and improvises to live poetry readings just two hours later? As a musician myself, it was a once in a lifetime experience I'll never forget,” Sanchez said of India’s playing.
“India’s beautiful flute playing reflects how latent memories that linger in ourselves can surface easily and quickly if just given the opportunity—this is at the core of why we are offering this camp,” said camp director Angelina Okuda-Jacobs. She is also the president of Pathkeepers for Indigenous Knowledge, the nonprofit that makes the camp possible and free for the 24 Native youth who attended.
Okuda-Jacobs said India wasn’t the only camper who picked up a traditional activity quickly. Others produced beautiful beadwork, learned to drum and wrote new songs, or picked up a lacrosse stick for the first time.
The campers also spent a couple days in Washington, D.C. learning about Indian policy and met with Sen. Jon Tester.