Native American Drums
Animal drums have always been the predominant Native American instrument of choice and hold special meaning to North American Native people. Drums have always held a mystical place in Native culture. Native drums mean different things to different people even though most all Native people or their ancestors used ceremonial drums. Painted drums and drumming traditions vary between tribes but as in modern Powwows, the drum has always been honoured and revered. Some tribes play large drums while gathered around it and others use personal drums which were custom drums painted or decorated by the drummer. Drums painted by hand have come to identify both the drummer and his tribe as well as preserve their rich culture through drawings of nature and legend.
People who play Native drums vary the tone of the drum in two or three ways. This is done mainly by the strength of the strike with the drum beater against the head and then also by where they strike the drum. By alternating the striking point from near the drum's center to closer to the edge, the drummer can control the tone and volume of native drums very well. A skilled drummer will also alter the sound waves by using his hand to either stop the resonance all together between beats or by very lightly touching the hide, cause a variety of subtle changes in the tone. The soft drum stick delivers a softer and lower thud sound while a hard beater yields a higher and more ringing tone with much greater resonance.
- The drum is the heartbeat of Mother Earth
- the heartbeat of life and our people,
- we live the first nine months of our life in the womb of our mother listening to her heartbeat which sets the pattern of our existence;
- we play these drum in ceremonies to bring in the spirit of Mother Earth
- The drumstick which is used to beat the drum is called many things, some people say it is the Thunderbird coming others call it the arm of the Creator who is breathing life into the ceremonies.