Question: JJ, what interested you most about the flute, and when did you learn to play?
JJ: The soothing richness of the flute sounds appealed to the spiritual calling that I began to feel around the age of 10 years old. I feel a unique sense of joy in making those sounds come from such a beautiful wooden instrument.
Question: What motivates you to share about the Lakota culture, going to schools and universities, and teaching about this when you play your flute:
JJ: Years ago it came to my attention that there were many myths and misconceptions about our culture that seemed to abound even in this so-called enlightened era we live in. I feel compelled to help the non-native public to have a more accurate understanding of who we are as a People. I endeavor to promote Peace, Love and Harmony and believe that the key is to have better understanding through education.
Question:What are some of the misconceptions?
JJ: One of the biggest misconceptions is the assumption that all Native Americans have the same ways ... such as all tribes lived in a tipi, canoed or hunted buffalo, had totem poles or wore eagle feather warbonnets, or all spoke the same language.
Question: So not all tribes were alike ....
JJ: Absolutely not! There are more than 500 indigenous cultures found here in North America, each with their own individual identities and traditions.
Question: Some will note how you have very blue eyes, though you come from a Lakota background.
JJ: Yes that is true. In this day and time there are very few full-blooded Native Americans due to intermarriage. I was adopted by a Lakota woman and have family both out West and in the South. The cultural and spiritual ways of the Lakota are what inspire me to identify with that ancient and strong heritage. These Lakota ways are a part of my soul.
Question:How do you know so much about these ways?
JJ: I was privileged to have very good traditional teaching from Lakota elders who have honored the ancient Lakota ways all of their lives.
Question: Tell us some fun stuff, JJ ... like, what are your favorite kinds of food?
JJ: I like to think of myself as the world's least pickiest eater. I like pretty much anything that is considered suitable for human consumption. I love meat, and gross my daughters out sometimes by eating some of the traditional delicacies found in our culture such as raw kidney and taniga (a soup made with tripe). I must admit to having a sweet tooth, too. I have been known to pour maple syrup on chicken nuggets, and I eat pistachio ice cream right out of the carton!
Question: What do you like to do for fun?
JJ: Camping (not in a state park but up in the high country!) out in the wilderness. fishing in a clear stream for trout, and cooking over a campfire. I enjoy elk, moose and deer hunting.
Question: Tell us about your children.
JJ: I have six children: one son (my eldest), five daughters, and five grandchildren. My hope is that I have been able to plant some good seeds there. Our lives are a child's textbook so I try to live each day by walking my talk to set a good example. All of my children are compassionate towards others, and I am very proud of them.
Question: Do you have any pointers on raising kids?
JJ: My Uncle Floyd Hand used to always say "Tokatakia Iciskampo" ("prepare for the future"). This means prepare your children to be survivors after we are gone. This often includes exercising tough love. When not sure on how to handle disciplinary situations that arise with children and teens, it helps to ask two questions: "What is Right?" and "What is the Truth?" Usually, this will provide the answer.
Question: What are some of your favorite quotations from your teachers?
JJ: "In this Life, there are no mistakes and no failures, only Learning! Everything that happens to us happens for a reason. It is our destiny"... Floyd Looks For Buffalo Hand
" We are all the children of the Great Spirit making us all members of one family, the human family!." ... Frank Fools Crow
Content copyright . JJ Kent Native American Flutist and Educator. All rights reserved.