Day #19

Heart Beat Drum Strokes…

Today was the second and final day of our hand drum workshop. After arriving this morning we participated in opening prayer and then began the process of stringing our drums. We attached the drum skin to the frame using pieces of moose hide leather. It was a long and arduous process, but in the end (with a lot of help from our teacher Roberta) I was able to fashion a pretty awesome looking drum. It was quite an experience to create something like that. Roberta spoke of the parallels between creating a drum and creating a life. My drum is supposed to represent my grandfathers, so when I call upon it, I will be calling upon their strength. My drum is currently hanging on the wall in our residence, drying. It will hang their drying until sometime tomorrow afternoon, and then after that it will not ever hang on the wall. Roberta was sure to communicate the importance of using the drum and caring for it like it was a living being. I will not be using my drum until after the warm up ceremony for Pow wow on Friday. At this ceremony we will be required to ‘birth’ and feast our drums. After finishing the stringing of our drums, we were instructed to leave a small piece of leather hanging unbound from the back. This cord will act as an umbilical cord does during a human birth. At the ceremony on Friday we will cut a piece of this cord. A member of the community will then take the pieces of cord, along with an offering of tobacco to the bush as a gift to our ancestors. After this, we are required to ‘feast’ our drums. This means that we will physically be wiping some of our food on our drums. Roberta told us not to worry about stains, because the spirits would eat the stains from our drums over night, and the drum heads would be clean once again by morning the next day. We are supposed to remember to feast our drums four times a year in correspondance with the seasons.

The whole process of making the drum became more and more meaningful as time passed. As of yesterday I saw this experience as a neat craft and maybe nothing more. However, as I sit here in the living room of our residence I now appreciate the full weight of what I have created. The drum, once it is birthed, will mean much more than any simple craft. It will be an extension of who I am, and a source of stability as I continue in life.

After completing our drums in the morning, we spent a portion of the afternoon participating in a sharing circle and learning about drum care. The sharing circle was very similar to the ‘talking circle’ that I spoke of in and earlier entry. Sweetgrass was burned and spread over our bodies in order to cleanse us and open the circle. Then an eagle feather was passed from person to person, allowing each and everyone of us time to think and time to speak. What was said in the circle will remain there, but the experience was once again powerful and finally opened me to the sound of the Fort Hope heartbeat.

It is that heartbeat and soul that I have been unable to discover so far in our visit. It was nice to see it exposed, and to hear it beat like the drum for all of us to hear.

That pretty much sums up the extent of today’s planned activities…We have a team meeting scheduled for later on tonight, and I’m hoping to get some planning done for the week ahead.

–Be kind to each other and don’t fall down…

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