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Old 01-08-2002, 11:51 AM   #16
Runs with Scissors
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Nagi is an unknown quantity at this point
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Knoxville, TN
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Re: drums

Originally posted by Beth
In the dinosaur age, we were taught if you were a dancer and had a few extra bucks on you contest or not, you put money on the drum to say thank you for the good music you danced to.
I don't see a lot of this any more.
I'm definitely not a drummer <grin> and only a passable dancer. I never thought too much about what drums get paid until reading this thread, but I've never been on a committee, either. I have, however, listened to a local committee deliberate for weeks over hiring a drum and how this drum wanted $XXXX and they really only had $XXX and so on and so forth. Frankly, I don't think that committee did the math either, now that I think about it. Another point where that committee missed the boat was that it does not do a committee give away, another opportunity to "thank" the drums with gifts they can use or put in the pot for their own give aways.

It's kind of a dog chasing it's own tail, though. If you don't have a drum, do you have a powwow? I can see the MC now ... "Folks, the next set will be played on the Panasonic system from the new CD by Tha Tribe, followed by an intertribal featured on the Sony, afterwhich we'll have a short intermission and flute concert played on my car stereo!"

However, the dog can chase in two directions. What if you had several drums taking turns singing and nobody danced? How long would your crowd (the main source of revenue for most powwow committees) stay?

Beth has a VERY valid point in that folks don't seem to put money on the drums any more. My sister and I work with a youth dance group. We do try to teach them that any money they're given for dancing should be given to whatever drum played that song. We do have a couple kids good enough that they occasionally receive a few dollars here and there and that DO go up and thank the drum for the song. We see more folks walking out of the circle counting their loot than paying the drum, though.

As to raising money, I think a lot of that is going to depend on where you live. We'd love to teach our youth team to plan and hold a traditional powwow in our city. That means getting a lot of donations for give away gifts, traditional prizes, etc. We live in a metropolis area of about 500,000 people, very few of which are Native. Most businesses give nothing because they don't see how it will benefit their business. Those businesses that do give something give minimally for the most part.

So, in essence, I think it's a matter of give and take. We need to teach each other and especially the young ones to honor the drums, even if it means they skip that $5 souvenier or Indian taco. We need to find ways to compensate other than money ... maybe packing up X number of "lunch buckets" with enough food in each one to feed one drum's worth of people, and give them to the drums just for playing all day. If you pick the right kinds of foods, it won't have to be refrigerated so they can eat it at the powwow OR on the way home. If money is an issue (and it is for my family sometimes), make "singer" packages that have throat lozenges, a coozie to insulate a water bottle, etc.). For what I blow at a powwow, I could gift at least one drum with usable items just shopping at the Dollar store.

In the same respect, I hope the drums and singers will be patient with the rest of us while we change our attitudes and habits!

Be the change you want to happen.
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