This is a biography of Jan Michael Looking Wolf Reibach, a renowned Native American Flute recording artist, performer, educator, and published author. He is a Kalapuya Tribal Member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and resides within his indigenous homelands in Western Oregon.
Jan Michael’s lifeway and musical expressions are based on the tradition of One Heart. In short, it is a truth that we are equal regardless of the color of our skin, tribal affiliation, language we speak, income, gender, faith, nationality or personal beliefs. One Heart is the recognition of Unity through Diversity. His music shares that message of hope for oneness of humanity.
He is the Great Grandson twice-removed of Kalapuya Chief Joseph Sangretta, who was a treaty signer for his Tribe and later served as the Chief Judge of Tribal Court. Jan Michael was born in Portland Oregon in 1966. His father is Jan D. Reibach (Native) and mother is Dianna Dunn (Irish-Welch). His father was born and raised on the Tribal Reservation. At the young age of 27, Jan Michael suffered two large strokes from a very rare genetic enzyme disorder prone to Native Americans. Blood clots passed through his brain, heart, and lungs. He was paralyzed on the entire left side of his body for nearly a year. He later received a miraculous healing fully recovered.
Since then, he has risen to a world class Native American Flutist with 20 CDs and 3 DVDs recorded on various Indie Record Labels – earning 52 National Award Recognitions that include Music Video of the Year, Record of the Year, and Artist of the Year at the Native American Music Awards. He also won the highly sought after Native American Music Award for Flutist of the Year and for Best Flutist at the Indian Summer Music Awards.
In 2007, Jan Michael was struck with a vision of a special CD that would help children with cancer in their journey. He gathered his family and friends around and shared about his idea of a children’s story CD entitled, “Seven Rabbits” that would include stories from seven bunnies, each a color of a direction. Overcome with emotion, Jan contacted producer Keith Sommers and immediately worked in the studio on the project. The result was incredible, a story CD that shares hope, healing, and inspiration based on both traditional native lore and contemporary settings with Jan’s flute music. Working through national organizations such as The Children’s Cancer Association (CCA), The Native Peoples Circle of Hope, and most recently The Cancer Navigation Program, thousands of copies of Seven Rabbits have now been distributed to kids across the country. Jan was recognized with a “hero award” by the CCA in 2007 for this project. “Seven Rabbits” is a reflection to the power of Native American Music and the human heart.
Jan Michael partnered with Donald Blackfox/Spirit Wind Records in 2009 and produced a homeless benefit CD Entitled, Rise Up: Songs from Native America. The CD has music from 21 Native American recording artists with a mission of raising awareness of the homeless crisis in America.
Native Flute music by Jan Michael is featured in the motion picture TILLAMOOK TREASURE that is now released onto DVD. He also has a part in the movie as a native flutist! In the modern day scene, Looking Wolf is playing on the beach with Floyd Red Crow Westerman (from the movie Dances with Wolves). For more information about the movie go to www.tillamooktreasure.com.
In 2011, Jan Michael and his band performed across Northern Ireland, where he played for the Deputy First Minister McGuiness, Derry City Mayor, and live on the BBC.
He is now with the High Spirits Music record label where his music is globally distributed. In 2014, his recording Tamanawas was released, which means “Guardian Spirit” in Chinuk Wawa, his native language. Collaborating with his long time bandmates, Tim Yett, Nathan Myers, Keith Sommers, and George Robnett, Jan is finishing up a new recording to be released in November 2016 entitled, “TWILIGHT”. With a new world sound, his band will be performing the recording in 2017.
Jan Michael has logged over 600 performances across the country spanning the course of his career. Prior appearances include the Seneca Casino New York, Seminole Hard Rock Casino Florida, Flute Quest Seattle, Mill Luck Casino/Salmon Festival Coos Bay, Peace Celebration Festivals, Grand Historic Theatre Salem, Portland State University, Oregon State University, Spirit Mountain Casino, Seven Feathers Casino, Chinook Winds Casino, Hult Center in Eugene Oregon, EPA Conference Washington D.C., Negril Jamaica, Waterside Theatre in Derry Ireland and a five-time headliner at the World Beat Festival.
Through lessons, workshops, and college courses, Jan Michael has taught over 12,000 people how to play the Native American Flute. He regularly instructs accredited Cultural Diversity courses at universities where the students experience musical self-expression with native flutes. In 2016, Jan Michael worked with Oregon State University to lead an effort with 378 native flute players set the world record for “Largest Native American Style Flute Circle”.
Jan Michael is a published author of two books that subject the Native American Flute. “One Heart and the Native American Flute” was published by High Spirits in 2007. It includes both history and instruction on flute techniques. His second and larger book, “The First Flute”, is co-authored with best-selling Canadian Aboriginal writer, David Bouchard. The book is published by Red Deer Press with distribution all over the world.
In working with close friend and flute maker Odell Borg, Jan Michael has helped create several signature flute lines, including custom designs that maximizes the sound and tone of the native flute. Jan Michael’s flutes and flute accessories have been distributed in 17 countries and are enjoyed by beginners, musicians and other professional recording artists.
Even with all the success and the emergence as a nationally known performer, Jan Michael maintains a focus on family and healing.
“I would like to thank all my family, Tribe, friends, and fans for the great support. Also huge appreciation to my bandmates, High Spirits Music, Keith Sommers Studios, Odell Borg, Donald Blackfox, Ellen Bello and the Native American Music Awards. During the journey here, I have found that it is true that we are all related…It is important to respect all cultures, after all, everyone and everything is born to the earth and sky. May you all be blessed and have a full life with good health, joy and ONE HEART”
—Jan Michael Looking Wolf