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December 24, 2013

Paul donates hand crafted flute to Chisholm Trail Heritage Center

DUNCAN — Making melodies through the craft of wood fills Duane Paul’s idle time. Paul will quickly tell you he’s had no formal training and only played guitar in high school. Now retired, he finds woods, like red cedar and Padauka from South Africa to create flutes.

It began when he heard a CD of R. Carlos Nakai titled “Canyon Trilogy” during the dedication of the On the Chisholm Trail monument in 1998. He became so enamored with the sounds of the Native American flute music that he set on a course to discover more about the history of such music. Since then, he’s crafted between 400 and 500 flutes and given away many of them. His most recent donation was one to the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center. He said it’s one of his favorite places to play his music, because of the acoustics in the facility.

On Paul’s bucket list of places to play is at Mesa Verde. While he isn’t Native American, he holds great respect for the people and their culture and heritage. He said he’s careful not to do anything that could be disrespectful, which is why he researches even the art he puts on his flutes. He woodburns art onto many of the finished flutes but some are left as a blank canvas. He carries his flute in a buckskin flute case he made, which is adorned with a Native American beaded accessory.

On one of Paul’s visits to the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center, he showed a flute that had several symbols of art — a turtle, which he says represents feminine strength, perseverance and patience. Vines of life twirled along the flute center to represent “that we are not alone,” he said. A buffalo, Kokopelli, an arrow and a bear also could be seen on the flute.

“A morning star symbolizes a new beginning,” he said. “People I’ve spoken with have given me inspiration.”

Paul has always enjoyed western art and has traveled to every state except Alaska. He loves Monument Valley and the Pacific Northwest. He finds inspiration for his flutes from many of his travels, too, he said.

Another dream he has is sharing flutes with everyone he meets.

“My full intention is to put a flute in the hands of every person on this earth.” He realizes that will never happen, but he likes to dream.

“Every culture has a flute. The Native American is the only style with two chambers,” he said about the crafting process. He also delights in sharing how some flutes won’t tune properly and he’ll put them away and return to them weeks or months later, only to have them suddenly tune. In one flute, he can put 100 hours into the artistry and crafting. For Paul, at 67, it is just part of his day’s routine.

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