The Native American flute is one of the most recognized musical instruments of the Indian culture. It was an important part of early day Native American music and continues to hold a significant role in more contemporary Native American music themes today. The history of the flutes origin dates back several centuries.
Basically the Native American flute can be divided into two different categories. Although both types of flutes contain two chambers, the channel (spacer) construction is different. In some flutes the chamber is actually carved into the piece itself (Woodland model), while in others the channel is added on to the block (Plains model).
Generally a Native American flute is composed of cedar, spruce, or redwood, although other types of wood can be used. The flute size, number of keys, and hole placement varies among instruments. Today many flutes are labeled as Native American when in fact they were manufactured in another country or by a non Native American artist. The reason for this is that the flute construction itself is used to judge whether or not it is considered a Native American model. This can be very misleading for collectors seeking an instrument made by a true Native American artist.
If it is important to you that your instrument be a true Native American flute, the best advice is to seek a flute that has the endorsement of the I.A.C.A., Indian Arts and Crafts Act. With this seal of approval, you have the registered assurance of the items authenticity and origin. The Indian Arts and Crafts Act was enacted in 1990. Its main purpose was to protect both consumers and Native American artists. As more dealers are entering the Native American marketplace, it is becoming harder to differentiate authentic items from those that are commercially or mass produced.