Day #18

Hand Drums

Well, it rained again today…It was also cold again today…haha…Just when we thought that we were maybe going to be rid of the cold, wet weather the skies over Fort Hope darkened once again and on came the wind, rain and cold! I don’t really mind yet though, I’m in a rather calm, peaceful state of mind right now and the weather only helps me to maintain that by encouraging reading, writing and (now that my guitar is here) guitar practice. Overall, today was a pretty calm, lazy day. We spent a good portion of the time reading, planning camp, writing various things, and for me, practicing guitar. With that being said, the day wasn’t without excitement…

Earlier in the week I had seen a poster marked ‘Hand Drumming Workshop’ on a bulletin board inside the local band office. It sounded like an interesting opportunity to get involved in a community event that would teach me something culturally valuable. I looked closely at the poster, and in typical Fort Hope fashion it showed a date and location but no time. Time, as previously mentioned, is definitely a relative thing on the Eabamtoong first nations reserve. Despite the uncertainty of the start time, my fellow councilors and I registered for the workshop. We are past the point of caring that nothing is planned in advance, and resigned ourselves to the fact that we were probably going to be late, and it wouldn’t matter if we were. So, just after waking up this morning we clicked on the radio and waited for the community to awake. Sure enough, around 1:30pm the radio station crackled to life with the distant and somewhat confused sound of someone tentatively calling ‘Hello? Hello? Can anyone hear us?’ into the radio. The way people check to see if the radio is working properly is by repeating a phrase like that over and over again until someone calls the station and confirms that they can hear them. If things are really organized someone brings a vehicle along and turns the radio on in the vehicle to make sure that everything is working! Anyway, again, in typical fashion, one of the first announcements of the day was for anyone planning to go to the hand drum workshop. It was suggested that we should head over to the Fire Hall (not the original location) for the workshop sometime in the afternoon! How ambiguous! It didn’t matter though, we’ve come to accept that interpretation of these vague times is all part of living in Fort Hope. We are still not in tune with ‘Indian Time’ yet because usually we guess wrong. For example, when we think that something is going to start later than it is supposed to, it usually starts on time, and when we think that something is going to start on time, it usually starts 2-4 hours late! Oh well, perhaps we will figure it out by the time we leave in August!

Anyway, we moseyed over to the Fire Hall (which is conveniently located next door to our house) around 2pm and joined in the workshop. When we got there, we learned that we were actually going to be making our own drums! Cool! Today we punched holes in our drum skin (moose hide) and began soaking them. We also started our drumsticks (again with moose hide and sinew string). That was the majority of today’s activity. Tomorrow we will take our soaked hides and stretch them over the drum and bind them to our frame. It is going to be a pretty amazing thing to have made my own drum by the end of tomorrow! I’m looking forward to it…

This evening I didn’t do much of anything. I went for a quick walk around the community and talked with some kids, then came back and watched a movie called Good Will Hunting. If you haven’t seen it (I hadn’t before tonight), you definitely need to go out and rent it. It’s worth your time.

Other than that, I guess another day has come and gone here in Fort Hope. We are busily making plans for a our second week of camp…We are going to try and focus this week on exposing our kids to the importance of their band council. We took the campers to the inauguration yesterday, and their inability to even conceptualize the importance of their local politicians was shocking. I kind of expected a certain awe or reverence to be present in the minds of the kids when it came to their band council, however the were completely disinterested and oblivious to their importance. They even were that way when their new chief was addressing the community. I was a little surprised…I mean, the majority of kids I know don’t really care that much about politics or politicians, but most would understand that they were being addressed by someone special or important if a major community figure spoke to them. Our campers didn’t even seem to recongnize that. We’re hoping to bring the band council in to talk to the kids next week and give them a bit of an idea about what they do, but we’ll have to see what comes of the idea.

Anyway, I should probably hit the hay for the night…I’ve got to be on top of my game if I want to create a ballin’ hand drum tomorrow morning!

–Be kind to each other and don’t fall down (but if you fall, remember that if you hadn’t you wouldn’t have learned how to pick yourself up again) —Thanks Mr. Semple…

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