In 1975, a passion ignited in Bryan Akipa to become a self-taught traditional flute maker and traditional flute player. At the time, there were too few artisans hand carving traditional red cedar flutes and playing traditional flute music. His spirit of inquiry and enthusiasm for traditional flute playing compelled him to dedicate himself to the art form. Subsequently, he began a life journey with the Indigenous Traditional Red Cedar Flute and has come to master one of the most fundamental traditions of the Dakota people. Now, as an accomplished artist, his greatest, recent awards are “The National Endowment for the Arts, National Heritage Fellowship” the nation's highest award for the traditional arts from his home state, “The Governor's Award, South Dakota Living Treasure”, and the “Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, Mentor Artist Fellowship.”
Also, as a multi-disciplinary artist, Akipa began his career studying Tahokmu Painting under Oscar Howe at the University of South Dakota. He is a Northern Plains Indian Sculptor and studied New Media Digital Fine Art at the Institute of American Indian Arts. A humble artist, Akipa prefers that his art and music speak more for him and than words can offer. He envisions a flute performance based on the traditional scale “Tokeya Inajin” and matches a number of flutes to each individual song.
“It is my hope the next generation can carry forward the traditions of the Indigenous Red Cedar Flute to enjoy a cultural journey as I have.” ~ Bryan Akipa