Native American Heritage Month presents flute player Al Striplen


Asyah Zamani

Flute Player Al Striplen performed for CRC students in an online event hosted by Native American Planning Committee on Nov. 17. Stiplen has played for almost nine years, often playing at the Sacramento State Indian Museum.

For Native American Heritage Month, the Native American Planning Committee held a flute presentation event featuring Native American Flute Player Al Striplen on Nov. 17.
Native American Heritage Month is not only celebrated annually, but it’s also a time to share and acknowledge the Native American Community. It also honors its members, ancestors and the community to give recognition of the work and struggles they have endured in history, said Cosumnes River College Counselor Crystal Martinez-Alire.
In Striplen’s flute presentation hosted by Student Life and Leadership Center Supervisor Oscar Mendoza Plascencia, Student Personnel Assistant Alexandria Raya-Franklin, History Professor Jason Newman and Martinez-Alire, Striplen, who is from the Amah Mutsun Ohlone Tribe, showed and played each of his flutes. He also talked about the different techniques in the sound of flutes as well as his teachings for meditation.
“I try to play intuitively,” said Striplen. “Just whatever you feel, whatever emotions you have and maybe the setting that you’re sitting in and just allow that inspiration to come through your flute.”
Striplen said he’s attracted to the sound of the flute and was inspired by a professional flute player who played at the State Indian Museum.
“I had the opportunity to watch him play and eventually went over and asked him what I needed to know to see if I could play the instrument,” said Striplen. “He advised me a certain flute to purchase and see if it was compatible with my skill and my interest and obviously it’s taken to me.”
Striplen said he uses the flute as a tool when he teaches meditation.
“I think inside of us, there’s kind of like a template, a formula that we were born with, which is about peacefulness, compassion and love and the flute kind of touches on that and allows us to focus on that area of our natural health.”
Striplen said he’s played the flute for about eight to nine years and has played at many locations.
“I played upon invitation at libraries, I played at Sac State, I played at one of the art museums over in Reno, Nevada,” said Striplen. “Most often, it’s been at the State Indian Museum in Sacramento.”
Mendoza Plascencia said music helps us preserve our way of life of how it’s played and has a clear representation of a part of a culture from Striplen’s flute presentation.
“It just connects you to that culture itself, so music has a lot to do with the culture,” said Mendoza Plascencia. “Same thing with food, the way we dress, the language we speak, everything’s part of culture.”
Martinez-Alire said the purpose of Native American Heritage Month is to acknowledge the history of it.
“It’s important to show the diversities of our community and also learn about what community is still active today and that they’re still here,” said Martinez-Alire. “I’ve heard sometimes people maybe haven’t realized that there’s still a strong native community in the area and that they’re still practicing and they’re still here helping to give back in different ways, so this is another way to share information, exchange ideas and even enhance any type of student learning that could take place by this event.”
Mendoza Plascencia said students who identify themselves as Native American can join the Native American Higher Education Resources, also known as NAHER by accessing it through the campus website.
“We support by providing resources, providing reminders, different ways for us to connect with our students,” said Mendoza Plascencia.
Martinez-Alire said the Native American Community helps bring a greater understanding and knowledge about the tribal community.
“Throughout the state of California, there are approximately 113 recognized tribes and throughout the United States, there’s a total of 565 recognized tribes,” said Martinez-Alire.
Striplen said he encourages everyone who is interested or attracted to the flute to give it a try.
“Nobody has to know anything about music other than to blow their breath through the flute and practice certain kinds of fingering, so it’s fairly compatible with anybody,” said Striplen.
For more information about Al Striplen, visit his website at