SYCAMORE – After never playing a Native American flute before, Bill Buchholtz found himself with seven at the age of 50. While he considered giving the wind instruments away, he chose instead to listen to his Cree and Algonquin roots.
“One day, I picked it up and I just knew it,” said Buchholtz, now 62. “I think the Creator wanted me to play it.”
Buchholtz shared his Native American flute talents with members of the Sycamore United Methodist Church on Sunday as he and the Rev. Dr. Michelle Oberwise Lacock educated the congregation about Native American culture.
Lacock, who has Lakota ancestors, delivered a speech called “Walking Softly” that encouraged people to keep open minds and hearts about others. Dressed in traditional Lakota regalia, she showed three pictures of Native Americans, including Bucholtz, also known as Conquering Bear. Lacock, whose Native American name is Morning Star, asked church goers to make assumptions based on the photos. She then told their stories and pointed out the truth about each of them likely fell far from the assumptions.
“Each person in the room is more than who you think they are,” she told the congregation. “With our eyes opened and our hearts warmed, we will walk softly.”
Beyond the message, the service was filled with Native American tradition such as Buchholtz’s flute playing and Lacock playing a drum painted by the Cheyenne Tribe. The alter was adorned with moccasins, a turtle rattle and a quilt from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.
The service was part of the church’s special programming during February, which is Black History Month. Sycamore United Methodist Pastor Harlene Harden said a couple of years ago church leaders decided they wanted to show how the Methodist Church reached across cultures. In addition to the Native American focused service, the church has hosted Asian, Indian, African and Hispanic speakers.
“Now people are seeing Methodism around the world,” Harden said. “This is such a beautiful time for our church.”