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-   -   Hate to beat a dead horse (http://forums.powwows.com/f31/hate-beat-dead-horse-760/)

Senoy 10-17-2000 09:05 AM

Hate to beat a dead horse
First, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am 22 years old and of mixed blood Southern Piegan descent. I am not enrolled in the tribe. The last person in my family eligible for enrollment was my maternal grandmother who chose not to enroll for her own reason's. I am currently 22 years old and attending school in West Virginia majoring in Computer and Electrical Engineering. I attend powwows regularly and am a Northern Tradish dancer. My regalia is red, black and yellow and was made by myself and family. I am the member of a drum group at this college. I have 2 sisters and a brother, I am the oldest. My religion is Protestant(Methodist) although I believe that Napi and God are different names for the same person. My hobbies are making crafts and playing video games. My favorite food is probably gnocci (It's an Italian food, if you haven't had it try it.) and my favorite colors are black, red and blue (hence the black and red regalia, the yellow was added as an afterthought to give the outfit contrast) I can't really think of much else to say, if you have any other questions, feel free to post them. I do not get offended easily and will not hate you for asking me whatever is on your mind.

NOW, on to the question. I mentioned that I play on a drum. The drum is part of a University sponsored student organization called ONAI(Organization for Native American Interests). As a University sponsored organization, we have many different tribal backgrounds, mostly Shawnee with one enrolled Cherokee and a few who claim Cherokee descent (who am I to argue?). The problem arose when one of the Cherokee(?), a female decided she wanted to drum. A lengthy discussion insued and in the course of this discussion, I was asked my opinion. I am usually loathe to get involved in these types of arguments as people in the east tend to get in to them all too frequently and take huge amounts of offense.(Welcome to the East! So many twinks out here, everyone is suspect until you hit about 90.) If the situation were normal, I would give my opinion and be done with it. Unfortunately I am the only Blackfoot in the group and the only attending person from a Western tribe, so I am expected to speak for the entire Confederacy and to a lesser extent the whole Plains area. I have discussed it with my family (the ones who care at all to get in an Eastern discussion) and we have reached no consensus on the situation. I am looking for opinions on the matter of mixed drums, the traditional way it was done in your tribe and any other info you feel is pertinent (reasons why it was done that way...etc.). (Also, what about whites on drums? It hasn't come up yet, but I can see it as an issue in the future and I'd rather not get caught with my pants down.)

If you would rather not post to a public forum feel free to email me at [email protected]. Also, could you put down your tribal affiliation (don't need your enrollment status, I'm not the BIA. http://www.powwows.com/ubb/smile.gif ) and any other information you deem pertinent. Also if you don't want me sharing your post with the other members of my group, just say so in your post or email me that you would rather I not and I will respect that.

Thanks much


PS The drum is a Northern drum and primarily sings Shawnee, Lenape and Micmac songs. (Any persons affiliated with those tribes opinions would be greatly appreciated)

PPS The songs we sing were given to us by men who have since died and can no longer be questioned regarding them.

tigger 10-17-2000 01:42 PM

hi, as alot of people already know, i am a non-NDN. i have been singing and dancing for about 20yrs, i am now 26.
i don't really see a problem with non-NDN's singing or dancing. i know alot of people might disagree with me but it is just my opinion. as long as the people do not disrespect the drum or the circle.
now i do have a problem with whites participating in cerimonies. this is one area that i do not cross, myself, unless i have been invited by an elder.


kahkakew 10-17-2000 10:44 PM

As stated before, Cree drums rarely if ever allowed women to sit on the drum, I have never seen this at home, but here in BC it is very common, although I do not care for it.
As far as whites on a drum, why?????
What purpose would this serve except to disrespect the drum and its traditions!
I have never and I hope to never see any white on a drum or singing behind the drum as most if not all women do at home.

There are half breeds who look white but mnay of them speak the language, are registered as indians and live our way, it is mostly city drum groups where you see non-status/non-treaty indian and metis(?) along with women all singing together.

It may sound strict, but it is meant to be as the drum's traditions are well respected and known here and followed by those who are aware of the teachings. The same goes for dancing.


1dancing white wolf 10-18-2000 02:21 AM

Did this young lady say why she wants to drum and not just sing?


FAITH 10-18-2000 10:55 AM

Hi Senoy,
Welcome to the board
I can not answer your question but there are
all women drums. The Mankillers all women
Northern Drum, http://the mankillers.com
they are supported by Wilma mankiller and
her family www.the-mankillers.com.
there are a few others also,i can say i have never seen a women at any drum druming.
but then again we stay close to home,do you
think all these women drums are making other
women want to drum?


FAITH 10-18-2000 11:13 AM

Tryed these web pages it did not work here it goes again, if it doesnt work go to the internet go to search and look them up okay.


http://the mankillers.com.

The Rock 10-18-2000 02:41 PM

The problem I have with women drums is just as kahkakew said. A lack of respect and not knowing what it really means to sit at that drum. Faith, "the Mankillers" are a pretty good example of this. Not to pick on them, I'm not a mean person, but to hear them sing on the wrong beat and out of tune is disheartening. Especially when they're really doing crazy stuff like that one lady that sings with them and uses two drum sticks all the time (well not all the time, but enough to be noticed easily). For most women sitting down at a big pow-wow drum and entering that circle you already have a few strikes against you. Why make it worse by flaunting what you don't know....know what I mean. I really get scared then. What if they're sitting there singing on their time. That's pretty bad in my opinion if that would ever happen. Someone could get hurt, sick...something. They make quite a mess around their drum as well. Did no one ever teach them some of the etiquette of singing at a pow-wow or did they just never bother to ask. Dressing up, looking clean and neat and keeping your area around your drum clean are all part of powwow singing too.

Like I said I don't want to pick on them though, but they've been together a long time and still haven't "gotten it." That says something else.....that they're oblivious of what they're really doing. It's like they're just making a statement of some kind.

Well anyways that kind of lack of knowledge, showing off what they haven't been taught or maybe sometimes too even a lack of respect is common among other all women drums too. So for an all woman drum....I'd have to agree with kahkakew and give a thumbs down (in a good way.)

One or two women that sit down with a pow-wow drum....i'd have to be torn there, because I know of some women that have earned that right to be there through their own communities on drums from their home rez's and their own tribe's Indian ways....they've learned like the men their with. It's just those that don't and still find some way to sit down with a bunch of men that ruin how the people see women singing in general.

One way to really think about it....if that person (and I mean person because this point goes beyond just women) would not be allowed to sing at a real ceremony....and they respect that way and don't try and don't do that......why should they be allowed to sit at a drum for a pow-wow.......

Pow-wow is not ceremonial it's a dance..a good time, but our creator is always watching.

FAITH 10-18-2000 03:48 PM

Hello Rock,
I was only wondering if these women drums
are encouraging other women to drum? i only
know of this group by thier CD i have never seen them in person so i dont know any thing about thier habits or how they conduct them
selfs at the drum.
I apologize if i offended anybody,that was
not my intent.

Faith http://www.powwows.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

Senoy 10-19-2000 08:07 AM

I do not know why she wants to sing at the drum, maybe a women's rights kind of thing. Thanks for all of the feedback, hope to see you all at a powwow sometime.

nik harvey 10-19-2000 04:14 PM

i agree with whitewolf, if they respect and honor the ways, who cares what color they are? it makes no difference, and you won't convince that creater cares wheather whites dance and sing, we are ALL his children. BUT if they are disrespecting our ways, them i have a probleme. i know whites that i would rather be taught by than any full blood.
about the singing, it depends where you go and what you are taught. i was taught that women stand behind there husbands( if married) and did not sit on the drum, but i am blackfoot, but not taught blackfoot ways, i understand that there are women blackfoot drums. just beacuse i disagree with it, dose NOT make it wrong, jsut another point of view


lightningflash 10-20-2000 12:12 AM

Hi there,

I am kinda new to this forum, but I thought I'd add my two cents...

I live in the Pac NW and go to powwows all over Washington/Oregon and sometimes California/Idaho/Montana. I don't know about all-women drums, but up here anymore you be hard-pressed to find a powwow where at least half of the drums didn't have one or a few women sitting at the drum. I don't know their individual cases, but some of them have been included in their family of singers, some are part of urban tribally-mixed drums, etc. I have never seen it to be a problem here. I know that in the south it is generally unaccaptable for women to sit at the drum, so I guess you'd have to go with whatever was accepted in your area. And as for women not knowing what they are doing at the drum, some do and some don't. I have heard some women singers who kick a$$, and have won drum contests over all the males...

kahkakew 10-20-2000 03:00 AM

Obviously the opinions that allowing a woman or white to sit at the drum because they are respectful and honorable clearly shows you do not know th tachings of the drum in reference to these two groups.


tigger 10-20-2000 11:17 AM

it may be that way up there in Canada, Eh. but i have sung with some really popular drums.

lightningflash 10-20-2000 11:46 AM

Yeah, we've had some of the top drums in the US at our powwows, and most of them had women sitting at their drum. Not all, but most.

To Kahkahew:
You're right, the Indian people down here probably don't know what you're people teach about the drum. Maybe that's why they listen to their own elders. At an intertribal powwow, you can't force everyone to hold to YOUR traditions. You have that right in your own tribal powwows. I mean no disrespect, because you seem to be very knowledgeable of your tribe's ways, but if you think that all tribes must follow your traditions then you're blind to the history of Indian people. Take out a dictionary and look up the word BIGOT.

funny old crow 10-20-2000 07:41 PM

Boy oh boy! You sure got a lot of different responses to your question. Some of them even pertained to the subject. Putting aside the bigotry and the demands for respect (which was a great song by Aretha Franklin by the way)how do you feel about a woman on your drum? Does she add to it or disrupt it? Is the world going to end if she sings? Are you going to blow that Canyon Record contract by having her there? I know, You won't be able to come in first at Denver March Powwow if she sings. Decide if you want to be inclusive or exclusive and have fun. Some people may look down their noses at you but so what some people live to complain.

The Rock 10-21-2000 11:39 AM


Originally posted by funny old crow:
Is the world going to end if she sings?
There's some people that believe that way....

If you think it's all looks and money you're way off........

To avoid an all out war of potshots I won't say anymore because that's not what I want, but I don't believe that kahkakew is a bigot at all. Not even close. In fact, I think he's holding back and making an effort to be nice about this.....


R-Lee 10-22-2000 10:35 AM

The Rock Layeth the Smacketh down. http://www.powwows.com/ubb/wink.gif

I think kakakew probably isn't really a bigot. I think he just likes to yank everyone's chain. He gets quite a reaction when he beats his chest. (of course this is only a very humble opinion).
Lightningflash has a good point. I know other tribes have different views and traditions about the drum. Why is one more valid than another?

The Rock 10-22-2000 05:13 PM


Originally posted by R-Lee:
The Rock Layeth the Smacketh down. http://www.powwows.com/ubb/wink.gif

I think kakakew probably isn't really a bigot. I think he just likes to yank everyone's chain. He gets quite a reaction when he beats his chest. (of course this is only a very humble opinion).
Lightningflash has a good point. I know other tribes have different views and traditions about the drum. Why is one more valid than another?

It comes a little more into perspective when you look at the history of powwow and the history of those big powwow drums. Where Kahkakew is from pow-wow's been around a lot longer than most other places. Places where women are accepted singing on big drums tend to be areas where pow-wow is a newer thing. The southwest, the east coast, the northwest. The only exception I can really think of is South Dakota with drums like Ironwood and Native Thunder. Some jamming women singers. Areas where pow-wow is even older than Cree country though like with the southern people, Ho-chunk's and Omaha's as well where we get modern day pow-wows from, women sitting down and singing at a drum is unheard of. Wouldn't ever happen and those women don't want that to happen.

My point is (and I know i'm rambling a little so I'm clarifying) the history of pow-wow dictates that women singing at a drum isn't the pow-wow way. It's a newer thing. It was incorporated into pow-wows as this way spread across Indian country. So people that believe in women singing on a big drum weren't taught this, they came up with their own beliefs about drums. Now does it seem more valid?

R-Lee 10-22-2000 09:23 PM

Hi Rock!
Good explanation. I don't think his view is not valid. It is very valid and I think considered the norm. You mentioned exceptions like Ironwood and Native Thunder. They are exceptions but still respected. I'm sure other tribes and people's ways would still be respected also. It's the same with white singers and dancers that he mentions and is so quick to critisize. There are some exceptions that still deserve respect. If it is only history that dictates the powwow way, how far are you willing to go back? The Fancy Shawl Dance is one example I can think of where women began doing something different and are now accepted.
These kinds of things are always so touchy and it depends on who you talk to and where. Anyone who is honestly doing what they believe to be right I believe deserves basic respect. If there is ever a real problem I think it should be taken to the powwow committee. I just replied in that way because I think kakakew takes HIS valid beliefs and presents them in a condescending way. I think he's just trying to get a rise out of people. Not that he cares but I don't have much respect for that.

tigger 10-22-2000 10:56 PM

i respect Kahkakew opinion on this and alot of things he has posted. but not all people or Nations believe the same things.
and i know that if i am ever in his area i would respect their ways like i would respect the ways if i was in OK, or anywhere else.
i have been to areas where they have asked me not to sing or dance because of my skin color and i respected that. it's ya'lls ways not mine. i just enjoy being there i don't have to sing or dance to have fun there.


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