Work by more than 100 Artisans inside new Carmel more

Native American-style flutes from wood, bamboo, and Woolly Mammoth ivory
Cicero Coffee Company and online
Earl Tharp

“Flute making is a spiritual art because the music has a deep effect upon the soul of the listener. The music conveys great emotion and is often used in relaxation and healing as well as Native American ritual. Every flute is unique and every flute tells a story.”

Fifteen years ago Earl Tharp discovered that his great-grandmother was part of a Tsalagai (Cherokee) group that fled the Georgia area rather than embark on the Trail of Tears during the “Indian removal.” While exploring those roots, an interest in the music of the Native American flute began to grow and, with the assistance of several flute makers Earl has been actively involved in the craft ever since.

Earl’s approach to flute making is much like that used in creating all fine musical instruments. Rather than producing flutes for the mass market, he crafts every instrument individually, assuring each is as musically perfect as it can be. “Although I spend a great deal of time on craftsmanship, it is most important that the flute plays well and accurately according to commonly accepted musical standards,” Earl says.

Indiana is the perfect locale to create flutes because it once was the heartland of Native American culture. The territory of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio once was called the Indiana Territory because more Native Americans lived here than anywhere in the country. Many Native American artifacts have been found in Indiana, and Earl himself has an extensive collection of field finds.

When he is not making flutes, Earl pursues an array of interests. He has black belts in Kodokan Judo and Okinawan Go-Ju-Ryu Karate and is a photographer, skydiver, meteorite collector, chef, woodworker, fisherman, and gardener. He also is a proud member of Cicero Kiwanis.

Earl applied to Indiana Artisan because he is seeking venues to tell the story of the flute and spread its music to as many people as possible. “The fact that my work was chosen gives me great pride, and I hope I can live up to the standards of the program,” he said.