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Drum Traditions

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 the drum.

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.


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.