Friday, October 11, 2013

Jemez Eagle Bone Flutes

This is a video that shows the eagle bone flutes that I made. They are made from an Immature Bald Eagle my dad received in December of 2012 from the National Eagle Repository in Denver Colorado. As a tribal member of a Federally recognized tribe, we can order eagles for religious purposes.

My interest in the bones came about from my interest in archaeology. There is an excavation report from 1938 of an ancestral Jemez Village caled "Unshagi" in the mountains, and many bones artifacts were unearthed. A few of those artifacts were bone flutes (Pl. XXIII b).

I wanted to recreate the flutes, and luckily, my dad had the eagle. The bones I used were from the wings. They're called ulna bones. I cut off the ends of the bones to make a tube, then I drilled holes in the approximate locations according to the image of the flutes. The 3 holes closed together are the finger holes and the one further away is where the sound is made. I used my own Piñon pitch glue to make the sound airway. I made my own Piñon pitch glue by mixing and melting sap from the Piñon tree with charcoal. As the glue was a little warm and malleable, I made it into a small ball and inserted in to the bone. I then heated the area where the sound hole was and shaped the glue with long skinny sticks until I got a sound. The end results were amazing. 

I cannot sell these flutes, because they are made from Eagle parts and it is illegal to sell, trade, or barter. But, I can sell or trade for services to make an eagle bone flute for someone who has any legally obtained eagle bones. I have found other ways to make these types of bone flutes, but instead of using eagle bones, I use Turkey bones (from The Game Changer Taxidermy). Other large birds, like ducks and geese, will do as well, because most birds have hollow bones. I also use copper tubing and bamboo.

I have plans to make more of these flutes. I ordered my own eagle at the beginning of this year. I ordered a whole eagle and will take from 3 to 5 years for a whole eagle. Golden Eagles take longer to receive, and Bald Eagles are quicker to receive. My dad received his Bald Eagle within 1 and a half years. So, I am hoping mine doesn't take as long.


  1. hey i really liked this video. i am not a native, however (and i dont know if many natives still practice the "old ways") i do have roughly the same religious beliefs. The eagle is a good friend to me especially the bald eagle, and i thought this was a very cool way to practice my spirituality. since, however, i am a white man i cannot legally obtain eagle in this country. i will try with copper like you said!!

  2. How much would you like for a flute made from turkey bones?

  3. Crystal, I sell them for $70 and $80, A description is on the bottom of the following page link

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