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Annual Native American Flute Retreat Continues To Attract Visitors To Indian Country
by News from Indian Country
(photo by Tara Rose Westin)

Lac du Flambeau, WI — For decades families have experienced the beauty and culture of the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe at the Tribe's historic "Indian Bowl." And until a few years ago, it was one of Wisconsin's best-known introductions to tribal culture and traditions offering tourists as well as talent from all over Indian Country an opportunity to share and experience cultural traditions. Since the early 1920's, Lac du Flambeau has been a cultural gem for the State of Wisconsin and continues to provide cultural experiences for travelers from all over the world.

Realizing the cultural assets in his own community, Darren Thompson created a musical retreat focused specifically on the Native American flute on the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation in Northern Wisconsin and had no idea it would continue to be an annual event. In its second consecutive year and acclaimed as "one-of-a-kind," the retreat exposes students to the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe community, its history and its future all while offering participants with instruction and inspiration to learn about the Native American flute and its history.

Darren Thompson is a renowned Native American flute player from the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe who specializes in the performance of both modern and ancient Native American flutes reintroduced through rigorous studies of museum archives and collections. He is quickly becoming one of Indian Country's most recognized Native American flute players by emphasizing the strengths and talents within American Indian cultures. A self-taught musician, Darren has been performing for the past 10 years throughout Indian Country sharing the rich history of original American Indian music. Originally from the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe Reservation, Darren now specializes in a diversity of Native American flutes that reflects many American Indian cultures.

The all-in-one retreat is hosted at Dillman's Bay Resort, a lakefront resort on the reservation that has a long and cherished history in Wisconsin's Northwoods. Offering 4 beaches, a marina for a variety of water sports on pristine White Sand Lake, unlimited picnic areas, limited cellular service, the resort couldn't be more perfect for a retreat tailored specifically for the instruction of the Native American flute. Unlike many resorts, Dillman's also offers art workshop retreats with internationally known instructors providing students from all over the globe an opportunity to focus on creativity and get to know other like-minded learners.

"When Darren brought his passion to Dillman's Bay Resort last year, our students and guests were overwhelmed with satisfaction at such a unique offering," said Dillman's Bay Resort Owner Sue Robertson. "With such positive feedback from the community and our guests, we thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to make this offering an annual tradition. We are so lucky to continue a total cultural immersion opportunity that is truly unique in arts."
"The idea of a workshop arose from my desire to invite people to experience the beauty of Wisconsin's American Indian communities," said Native American Flute player and Lac du Flambeau tribal member Darren Thompson. "There is so much beauty in Indian Country."

A first in his community and considered a pioneer example of American Indian cultural tourism, the retreat not only focuses on flute instruction, but exposes participants of all ages to various attractions and places of significance to the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe people including the tribe's cultural museum, the world- renowned Waswagoning Indian Village, which is a historic recreation of an Ojibwe village, and the future site of the Waswagoning Living and Cultural Arts Center, soon to be a cultural icon for the tribe and the State of Wisconsin. Participants are immersed in Ojibwe culture while lodging at a world-class lakeside resort within Indian Country.

Among those taking note and endorsing the event is Native American Tourism of Wisconsin, a statewide organization dedicated to creating and promoting tourist opportunities within Wisconsin's American Indian communities. Home to the largest number of American Indian tribes east of the Mississippi River, Wisconsin's eleven tribes occupy some of Wisconsin's most beautiful and unique landscapes: pristine lakes, rivers and streams, towering forests and ancient wild rice beds, each teaming with an abundance of wildlife.The organization exists solely on creating opportunities in Wisconsin that are accessible to the general public, to share Wisconsin's Native communities, their history, talent and culture with the rest of the world.

"It's not always the easiest to promote one opportunity with so much diversity among Wisconsin's Tribal communities," said Native American Tourism of Wisconsin's Executive Director Ernest Stevens III. "It's challenging to develop a package that meets the desires of tourists and Darren's retreat provides much of what Wisconsin's Native communities offer. Located on one of the many picturesque lakes on the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation, the retreat offers students and vacationers a genuine opportunity offered in Indian Country by Indian Country."

Also commending the event is the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

"It is a prime example of what Wisconsin's Native communities can offer, both material and immaterial," said Wisconsin Department of Tourism Tribal Liaison Andrew Nussbaum. "Tribal art, traditions and culture are significant parts of both Indian and non-Indian communities in the State, making Wisconsin a remarkable place to explore the history of Wisconsin's Native people. With a widely recognized Native talent like Darren Thompson offering an opportunity highlighting much of what Wisconsin's Native communities offer, the State of Wisconsin is truly fortunate to be the home of this world-class event."

"It is a living dream to welcome people to my community and invite them to learn from the environment that has not only inspired me and my work for years, but countless others as well," continued Darren Thompson. "There are very few opportunities for people to experience and learn in Indian Country and it is my goal to share the rich and often misunderstood history and heritage of the Ojibwe people."

Set for June 21-25, Darren Thompson's 2nd Annual Native American Flute Retreat hosted at Dillman's Bay Resort on the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe Reservation is set to expand new horizons within American Indian cultural tourism. In addition to the retreat, Darren has scheduled an album release concert highlighting his new music compositions with ancient Native American flutes prior to the retreat during a special appearance by Bayfield's (WI) Big Top Chautauqua's Blue Canvas Orchestra where hundreds of guests attend the yearly event featuring both acts.

"Consider joining us for this landmark event on June 21-25 at Dillman's Resort," said Director of Dillman's Creative Arts Department Dennis Robertson. "Our students and guests have been shared they have had times of their lives and have expressed only one wish - that the workshop was longer."

For more information

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