Palo Pinto Keeps The Native American Flute Alive

The stormy weather of North Texas gave way in time for an event in Palo Pinto as beautiful as the weather this weekend, May 18 and 19. Birds sang as people sat under the warm sun to listen to the soft and melodic sound of Native American flutes play at the Palo Pinto Flute, Art and Music Festival. A few sought shade under a pavilion or beside an old covered wagon near the stage.

They came to the site of an old jailhouse to see Native American history be revived. The Old Jail Museum Complex, passionately cared for by the Palo Pinto County Historical Association, is a collection of local historical structures and items that date as far back as the old pioneering days around 1854, said Richard Buckner, a docent volunteering his time at the museum complex to tell guests the interesting stories that follow these historically precious pieces.

Photo by Lizmarie Torres-Irizarry

Comanche indians were common in the area, Bucker said. He talked about a time when cowboys and indians fought over land and property. He pointed to an old stone house in the complex were people had once lived. It now serves as a museum displaying what the everyday ranch life was like back then.

“You leave your horse tied out front there and walked off, and it’d be gone before the dogs could bark,” Buckner said, describing how stealthy the indians were.

The Palo Pinto Festival featured a lineup of award winning and widely traveled musicians well versed in the instrument’s traditions. Palo Pinto native Sandy Horton was one such musician. Despite having an arm restrained by a black sling, she played her flutes gracefully, pairing each original song with an original poem.

Native American flute musician Sandy Horton recites original poetry.
Photo by Lizmarie Torres-Irizarry

Sandy’s biography on the festival’s website boasts a bachelor’s degree in music from Texas Tech and a master’s degree in ed psych from Baylor, but her passion for this special flute comes from her own heritage.

She teared up as she recited a poem on stage about her Native American ancestors and the pride they would have in seeing her carry on the tradition of their music, a tradition Palo Pinto is proud to keep alive.

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