A drummer has the responsibility to have an understanding of what the
drum represents. The Drum Keeper and the Singer of each drum are responsible
for ensuring, that all members of their circle have knowledge of the
respect, which should be present at and around the drum.
There seems to be a misconception about the difference between a traditional
drum and "Pow-wow" drums. Some drummers rationalize that because
they are a "Pow-wow" drum they can use drugs and alcohol,
disregard the teachings of respect of the drum and what it represents
to all Native People, and still be around the drum taking part in the
drumming and singing. This is not true a drum is a drum and to be respected
and used properly.
While it is understood that the drum should not be utilized as a tool
to separate our people, it is taught by Spiritual Elders throughout
our native lands, known as "Turtle Island", that, the drum
is very important medicine to our people and should be shown as much
respect as any other medicines, including the Sacred Pipe. Be it a Powwow
or traditional drum
Although no person can pollute the medicines, which the Creator has
given us to utilize as tools for various types of healing, it is the
respect for the drum that we try to preserve and to teach to our children.
If drummers and singers do not respect the drum and our songs how can
they expect others to do the same.
In honor of the Creator and all of our ancestors who died trying to
preserve our traditions and culture, all drummers and singer have a
responsibility to not use, abuse or misuse any substance and to know
how to treat the drum with respect.
Each time before the drum is used it is to be offered tobacco to thank
it for what it will do. When stored the drum is not to be tossed in
the trunk or left in the bottom of a closet. It should be placed in
a place of respect where it will have daily contact with people in the
home it is kept in.
I was taught to keep drums close to the door so that they will help
protect my home. Also when leaving the home and upon returning I always
speak to the drum to acknowledge its presence and to show respect for
There are many different ways to respect the drum and you should find
an elder that can teach you how to show the proper respect to any drum.
WOMEN ON THE DRUM
Another matter of concern, is that of women on the drum. According
to research, in many nations women traditionally drummed and sang as
much as the men did. Traditionally, the hand drums and water drums were
used as well as hollow logs and shakers. Not too long ago the larger
drums were introduced, and later adopted by many nations. This did not
stop our women from their traditional roles in drumming and singing.
Although women are not allowed to sit and drum on the larger drums,
(according to many tribes) we do not have any legitimate reason to retract
the right of our women to drum. Therefore, to honor the Creator, our
Mother Earth, and the Spirit of our ancestors, it will be an honor to
have any women participate as drummers.
If anyone suspects alcohol or drugs being used by anyone on the Drum,
or that a drum is being disrespected they should lay an Eagle Feather
or any other Sacred Feather on the Drum. That STOPS the Drum until the
situation is resolved.
The drum is the heartbeat of Mother Earth. With the drum our spirits
and physical robes are healed. Each time you use the drum you offer
tobacco to the drum to thank it for allowing you to bring forth its
voice. A drum should be cared for and treated with the same respect
as any other sacred object.
A drummer and singer helps us draw closer to Creator, Mother Earth
and the teachings of our Grandfathers. They need to be treated with
the respect they deserve. It takes not only time to learn the songs
but it also takes a commitment to the people who are around them. Drummers
and singers do not do what they do for themselves, they do it for the
people. Remember to thank them.