The Flute Player: An Apache Folktale

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The Flute Player is a retelling of an Apache folktale. As the story goes, a young boy and girl met at a social dance and instantly knew that they liked each other. The boy told the girl he played the flute and that she might hear him sometime. Whenever they were separated between the fields, he would play for her on one side while she sat by the river and listened. She liked what she heard, so she put a leaf in the water and the current carried it downstream to the boy. He kept each leaf, hoping that it meant she liked him.

One day, he and the rest of the men in the village left on a hunting trip. The girl waited for him by the river, hoping to hear his music. After so many days of not hearing his flute, she thought it was because he no longer liked her. She went home and became too sick to leave her bed, eventually dying of grief.

When the boy returned, he was heartbroken to hear of her death. The girl’s brother took him to where she had been buried, and he took out his flute and began to play for her. Not long after that the boy disappeared and was never seen again. Anyone who goes down to the canyon and listens can still hear the sounds of the flute, of the boy playing for the girl.


I love folktales and this one was especially poignant. This story offers young readers the chance to learn about Native American culture through a story passed down within the Apache tribe for generations. It also shows how soothing music can be, no matter the situation we find ourselves in.

This post is part of my five-part series highlighting multicultural children’s literature.

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