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Old 11-27-2000, 03:29 AM   #1
kahkakew
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Post Rites of the drum

I speak alot of protocols and traditions as thye have been a cornerstone and foundation in my life and teachings..the same is said for the westren or pow-wow drum what we Crees refer to as "Misto-Kwa-Skake;,
My late father was a wellknown drum maker amongst his many recognized rites he had achieved through old style apprenticeship.
He made drums of all sizes for nearly 45 years bfore he died...he sang all of his life and was a veraccomplished singer in all areas.
He told me as a young boy that the drum needs 7 men to be whole, each one ogf these men receiving the rite to be a caretaker of the drum. One man was repsonsible for the drum itself, another for the frame, another for the sticks and finally when the canes of "Chocans" as we call them were common, another 4 men each had responsibilty to care and keep this part of the drum.
These parts rarely travelled togehter or stayed together, only they came togehter at a gathering, ceremony or pow-wow where the drum was to sing.
My dad told me all parts of the drum had to be present for the dum to be able to sing. Earning the rite to care for and keep one of these parts is another long and difficult journey and it was rare in my oyuth to see anyone but either an elder or older man sitting on the drum. Back then it was the younger boys like myself who stood behind and sang, now it is women, something my aunt, Florence Deschamps of Pigeon Lake singers started up in the early 70's.
Today the Chocans are never seen as competition pow-wow has detraditionalized the meaning of the drum, but they are seen at other gatherings and the tradition of passing on responsibility to care and keep for parts of a drum are continued.


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Old 11-27-2000, 07:10 AM   #2
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Kahkakew

Thank you for the information on your people and traditions, not just in this post but in the many others you have made. Where I live we just aint got many (if any) Cree folks around. I myself do not know many Cree people firsthand and I have enjoyed your open sharing of your family's and tribes teachings. Through your post I have gotten much information about a nation that I have not had the pleasure to get acquainted with before.

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PS - I assume that 'Chocans' is a cree word. Could you enlighten me as to what they are? Forgive my ignorance but for the life of me that word doesn't ring a bell.

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Old 11-27-2000, 03:04 PM   #3
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The chocanak are the four canes which used to be seen on drums coming off the frame in the 4 directions, often they were beaded with a four matching feathers hanging from them, sometimes with ribbons as well...it is a great honor to hold the rite to a chocan, they have ceremonial and spiritual connotations but by now you know I do not give that info out.
These chocans displayed many associations to socieites, chieftains, lineage, etc, status of spiritual abilities and knowledge...as I said, competition and contemp pow-wows along with fewer men holding and passing on the rites have seen them naish almost completely from modern pow-wows but not from ceremonial and spiritual events.

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Old 11-29-2000, 05:40 AM   #4
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Kahkakew

Thank you again sir. I thought that what you described was what you were talking about but I didn't recognize the term and didn't want to make an assumption.
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Old 11-29-2000, 06:56 PM   #5
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prior to my fathers death, he spoke of the other rites which many are not aware of and even when they are theydo not know how to earn the rite or practice it respectfully..that is the construction of the drum and all its parts...the selection ofthe hide, wodd, etc comes from first a ceremonial point where the person asks the trees, animals to give up of themselves the materials needed..then when granted, the offerings are completed and then ..here is the most important knowledge the invocation songs are sang..the calling songs which invite certain spiritaul forces to coome inot the object being constructed...that is why when we start to sing at anytime we do not place tobacco on the drum, instead we all put our hands on the hide and pray to the drum asking the collective spirit to come out as we sing and drum.
Very few I have ever known of have the rite to these invocation songs, let alone hte ceremony tht is used to intitate the completed drum..it is alot more than building a frame and strecthing wet buckskin over it and then lacing it up..a heck of alot more.


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Old 12-05-2000, 03:47 PM   #6
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My late father was also Lakota, although predominantly Cree. Back in the 1800's many Lakota, Nakoda came north to escape persecution from the american settlers and army, many died on this trek, many came well into northern Alberta and saskatchewan where they were readily accepted into Cree bands and mixed in, so as today many Crees in the Batteleford area, Onion Lake, Sweetgrass, Poundmaker, MOsquito, Moosomin, Saulteaux, and many other bands have significant Lakota bloodlines.
Many of the Lakota who made it to safety in Frog Lake, made it because of their horses, their horses literally walked until they died for the people.
Because of this, the rite of the horse dance was given to many including my fathers family and eventualy himself. He held horse dances every year he put up his sun dances.
He also gained the rite to use the horses hide for the big drum through his affilaition to horse societies.
He always used when available, horse hides for pow-wow drums..deer hides for hand drums.
He was given the rite to ask for and take the horses life and then as taught how to prepare the hide. This included the ceremony and invocation.
In our family this tradish has been passed
on to my brother. My father has made many drums for many well known groups over the years and literaly hundreds of hand drums for round dances and sun dances.
He achieved all the rites needed to become a drum maker, the last being the rite to preprare a specific hide, that being the horse, usually a young stud pony. He said they are the best.
When ever we hold horse dances we pay hommage to our Lakota ancestry and to our relative the horse which cared enough
for our relations to die for their freedom.

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Old 12-06-2000, 04:39 AM   #7
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My late father told me that the horse gave hinm the rite to the hors edrum in another manner. He adored one of his fathers stallions which was very wild and head of the pack...he wanted to rid ethis one but it was too wild. it was even too wild to be around when on foot.
He said one day as he watche dit run around the corral, it stopped and stared at hinm for sometime, then it ran away a fast gallop. The nest day he said his father found that stallion dead in the pasture. Without any explanation my dad was told by his father that this horse would be the first one to give itself to him for adrum when he was of age....he said it was the finest drum he ever sang on which his dad made in the old way.
Do not believe that saying of beware a horse bearing gifts..CHAA!!! That was in 1951 if memory serves me right, that drum no longer exists but my fathers eyes gleamed when he spoke of it. He said it was with that drum that he became gifted with songs.

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Old 12-06-2000, 11:00 AM   #8
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Kahkakew,

These are great histories you are sharing with us. I greatly appreciate these posts.

-Dan
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Old 12-08-2000, 08:52 PM   #9
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Thank you for sharing this with us Kahkakew.

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Old 12-09-2000, 01:23 AM   #10
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My father passe don before we could finish making my drum I had asked for....so I am going home in the new year too ask for the rite from another member of the family who has aassumed his lead role as drum and pipe maker. I already had the rite to make pipes from my dad. This put a damper on my drummin gpplans but I accept this as the way it is meant to be...I amnot a memebr of nay horse society, that was somehting I was to ask for in a few years through my fathers , mothers side in saskatchewan...time will tell.
For now we us ethe drum form one of the bands I work with..I ahve my own hand drum from my dad which I sing with every night for my wife and daugther.it has a claming and empowering effect at the end of a long stressful day and it brings joy to my heart to watch my 15month old girl hit the drum in rythmn as I sing and she dances beside me.
I am also going home to ask for my dad's songs. He must of known he was to leave us as he taped all of his songs, sweat, round dance, ceremonies , sundance and horse dance on 6 tapes..thats alot of songs. I ahd asked him for all of his songs prior to his death and he agreed. It must be meant for me to hear his voice in tis manner as many of these songs I have neevr heard before...someday I will pass them on to my children and grandchildren so that their legacy will continue along with therites I have and will have attained.

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Old 12-13-2000, 01:56 AM   #11
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Wonderul Wonderful Wonderful, Thanks for the kind words. This post was very thoughtful and thought provoking.....It really made me think. Thanks for the post.

TMS
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