Written by Al Stover
The audience listened quietly as the sound of Native American flute music and the smell of beef filled the air.
The Roosevelt County Library held a presentation Sept. 21 during which the audience listened to a performance of the Native American flute and learned about the life of Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, who was not only the youngest member of the Corps of Discovery, but also he was the son of Sacagawea.
Prior to Forrest Mount’s lecture, Andrea Hayes, Roosevelt County Library director, said the library will be looking to complete several projects related to Lewis and Clark, including a mural on the back wall.
Mount had been asked by the library to research the life of Charbonneau. Captain William Clark nicknamed him Little Pomp.
He began his presentation on Charbonneau by delving into the man’s early years.
The audience learned that Clark had delivered Little Pomp, Feb. 11, 1805. Clark later adopted the child after making a proposal to Sacagawea and her husband to raise the baby as his own son.
Mount went through Charbonneau’s life while living with Clark, who had the boy learn how to read, write and speak English, Greek and Latin.
Charbonneau would become a clerk and would met Duke Paul Wilhelm of Württemberg, Germany. He traveled with Wilhelm to Europe and would spend several years traveling the continent learning to more languages.
Charbonneau returned to the United States in 1829 and lived life as a mountain man in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho.
Mount said Charbonneau became famous among the mountain men for spinning tales at the campfire and telling stories of the Greek myths he learned in his youth. Mount quoted one fur trapper as saying that there is no better man to have by their side than Pomp. Charbonneau would later travel to Fort Bent, Colo.
In 1848, he traveled to Albuquerque, N.M., and would participate in the Mexican-American War with the Mormon Brigade.
After the war, Pomp went to California to become a prospector; after hearing that gold had been discovered in Montana, he decided to go north.
During the journey, he slipped off his horse in a river. He contracted pneumonia and died May 16, 1866. He was buried in Danner, Ore.
The Inskip ranch in Danner, Ore., dedicated one acre of land for a monument of Charbonneau.
“I never thought looking at that baby on that poster [of Sacagawea] that would have a life like this,” Mount said. “I’m not even doing it justice. He lived a life that very few men even get to taste.”
Once Mount was finished with his presentation, musicians Bryson Runsabove-Myers and Adrian Imus, who both have CDs coming out in the fall, performed with the Native American flute for the audience.
Prior to performing, both Imus and Runabove-Myers shared some stories of how they began playing the flute.
Imus said he recently learned about the Native American Flute through Runsabove-Myers, his teacher and brother.
He became involved in pow-wow singing in Hawaii in 1997. He has also been featured on three CDs with the pow-wow singing group Young Heart, which later merged into Soldier Hill.
The first CD Imus was on, Mother’s Journey, Mother’s Love, was dedicated to Nancy Martell, who died from cancer in 2006. She told Imus and her son, Eric Martell, to continue to sing, dance and play music in her honor after her death.
Imus said he learned that pow-wow music had a relation to Native flute music. He also said he honors his grandmother by continuing to be involved with Native American music.
“What keeps me going is knowing that my grandmother is still watching over me,” Imus said.
Runsabove-Myers, a descendent of Chief Rocky Boy, said he has been playing flute since 2006 while he was studying at Stone Child College in Havre.
Runsabove-Myers said he heard a beautiful noise one day coming from outside. He went and found his friend Rainbow Stump, who introduced him to the Native American flute. Stump taught him how to finger the flute. He said when he played his first four holes, he could not stop.
Runsabove-Myers enrolled in several music classes with his teacher, who was passionate about the flute. He would discover new tricks and introduce them to his teacher, who gave him 14 flutes.
He would later move to Seattle, Wash., where he would perform at a coffee shop and teach Native American flute to eight students in his spare time.
Before he left Seattle, he gave the 14 flutes he had received from his teacher to his students.
Runsabove-Myers said he put down the flute until 2010 when he discovered he still had music in him.
“I tell a lot people you have many gifts in life, whether it’s art, your voice, whether it’s listening, drawing or music,” Runsabove-Myers said. “The day I discovered I had music in my blood, I thanked my grandfather for that, because he was a singer himself, and my grandmother for pushing me forward.”
Runsabove-Myers made a demo and CD in 2010. His music is heard in 13 countries. He was also nominated for an Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Award and Native American Music Award.
Like his flutes, Runs above-Myers gave many of his CDs away.
“They told me, ‘You could make a lot of money,’” he said. “Money didn’t matter. My main goal is to get my music out there to help people who are feeling down and who have any negativity in their life.”
Imus began the concert with a song that he described as an a capella of how he felt.
“I look at it throughout pow-wow music, through the melody and the beat of the songs that I incorporate with the Native American flute, especially with the breathing portion,” Imus said. “With this, it was more a freestyle, but it was what I felt.”
Runsabove-Myers played The Morning Song, the first song composed on his demo.
The audience listened as the duo played a collaboration called Two Warriors, with two different sounds with the same tone. Runsabove-Myers said that when he collaborates with another artist, it is never a competition.
Both artists played music that was not only relaxing, but also showed the audience different techniques for playing the flute, such as the sliding finger technique.
“I don’t call them fans. I call them friends,” Runs above-Myers said. “You guys are my friends today.”
Runsabove-Myers ended with a song for which he asked the audience to come up with the title. Imus ended his performance by also having the audience do the same. When they asked the audience the titles of their songs, many of the audience members said the song reminded them of animals and the woods. One audience member said they thought of young Native American girl dancing. Another audience member said she thought of her grandson picking chokecherries.
Dinner was donated by Angela Wolff, the owner of the Nook. Runsabove-Myers also displayed several of his flutes that were made by Mike Serna of Chattanooga, Tenn., who is an Apache and a descendent of the people who walked the Trail of Tears.
The presentation was made possible by a second grant from the Lewis and Clark Heritage Foundation, and is a joint project of the California Chapter of the LCTHF and the Roosevelt County Library.