In the beautiful San Juan Mountains of Colorado, Jessica Tsianina Peterson makes Native American Style Flutes and Rattles for her shop NighteagleFluteCo. She makes each instrument one at a time, with great love and honor for the wood, the music, and her teacher, David Nighteagle.

Tell me about how you originally got into your craft, Jessica.
I've played transverse (modern) flute since I was a child. Then one day, I walked into a shop here in Pagosa Springs and found one of David Nighteagle's Native American Flutes. I bought it immediately. I was enchanted with the sound and sought out David, whose shop turned out to be just over the mountains. David took me under his wing, and now I am honored to be carrying on the Nighteagle tradition of flutemaking.

What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Just to be. In an alpine meadow, or under the thunder of a waterfall. In a Ponderosa forest, or on desert redrock. Watching ravens play, or feeling the first summer storm approach. Hearing the wind play in the aspen leaves, or smelling new snow.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
Keeping up with the business end is hard for me: the paperwork, advertising, taxes, etc. I like to spend my time creating, working the wood, learning more about the physics of the flute, seeking out new animals to carve, and playing flutes.

What item in your shop would you most like to receive as a gift if someone were shopping for you?
Right now, the Wolf Flute. I really connected with this flute while I was making it, and I'm very fond of its voice. Besides, I don't have my own Wolf Flute yet.

It is a Cherry flute with an end-carved wolf totem. Wolf stands for leadership. It is a teacher, and very sociable. The wolf draws strength from ritual.

Are there any other instruments you'd like to tell us about?
I'm featuring a Cedar flute with a horse totem carved at the end. The horse symbolizes freedom, endurance, and grace. Its strengths are understanding and forgiveness. Play this flute and release your inner horse!

A Raven Rattle is my third featured item. Rattles bring positive energy, or good spirits. Because of their gentle sound, rattles can be used in many situations where a louder instrument would disturb others. Raven has strong spiritual power and the ability to transform, or move between worlds. Playfulness is also a raven characteristic.

These flutes are very easy to play. Anyone can make a beautiful sound on them. They are lovely and quite satisfying to see, hold, hear, and play.

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
Actually, first, I was certain I'd be a jockey. I loved reading about horse racing and steeplechasing, and my pony and I ran around together everywhere. My first dream turned out to be unrealistic for me, but I still love to read horse stories, from children's stories like "King of the Wind" and CW Anderson's books to histories of race horses to Dick Francis mysteries and more.

Next, I thought I'd be a flute player, and that worked. Actually, now I can combine the two in a way, by carving horse totems on flutes.

What other shops or artists out there do you love?
I'm fairly new to Etsy and haven't spent time searching around much yet. That is something I really look forward to, though I know it will be dangerous!
I found a magical little caterpillar-in-a-leaf for my niece at Zuzu's Petals. Caron is very nice, and I love her creations. Okay, I'll admit that I took the caterpillar out and played with it before I sent it to my niece.
Mark at Anasazi Dream makes unique, inexpensive, and fun rim-blown flutes. I have two of them. He is also very nice and a good person.

What does your future hold?
River trips, I hope.
I see a flock of flutes rising from my little shop, taking the peace, beauty, and joy of these mountains with them to people everywhere.
I see myself spending more time just being in the beauty that surrounds me here.
I see my three boys happy and independent and kind to others; may they make it through teenager-hood.

Visit NighteagleFluteCo at Etsy or If you're in the area you can see Jessica perform on the flutes in local galleries here in Pagosa Springs. She also does occasional flute-making demos. If you are going to be in southwestern Colorado, get in touch with her via her website to see if she will be at an event while you are there. She may even let you stop by her worksop and demonstrate the flutes for you if you're very lucky!