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  • Compromising a powwow drum

    I was invited to a "celebration" after the Gathering last year where several of the Northern winning drum's singers were in attendance. It was crowded. I noticed the drum of the host of the celebration off in a corner and covered. One of the females got too close to this drum and one of the singers politely asked her not to get close to their drum.

    I understand the power of the drum whether it is being used for ceremony or powwow. I understand how many tribes believe that if a women is on her monthly cycle, she should be no where near certain drums.

    Recently, a large powwow drum was compromised by a women who was on her monthly. There was great concern about this drum. Even though this was not my drum, I was asked to take it home to take care of it, then bring it back. I am in the process of doing this now.

    As I was thinking, several questions came to mind....

    There are so many tribes that are "recent" to powwows and wouldn't know to do this. If their drums were compromised and used in a powwow arena, would it affect the other drums and dancers?

    What about all women's drums?

    What does your tribe believe about this important issue?
    Last edited by WhoMe; 10-08-2008, 04:37 PM.
    Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

  • #2
    Originally posted by WhoMe View Post
    I was invited to a "celebration" after the Gathering last year where several of the winning drum's singers were in attendance. It was crowded. I noticed the drum of the host of the celebration off in a corner and covered. One of the females got too close to this drum and one of the singers politely asked her not to get close to their drum.

    I understand the power of the drum whether it is being used for ceremony or powwow. I understand how many tribes believe that if a women is on her monthly cycle, she should be no where near certain drums.

    Recently, a large powwow drum was compromised by a women who was on her monthly. There was great concern about this drum. Even though this was not my drum, I was asked to take it home to take care of it, then bring it back. I am in the process of doing this now.

    As I was thinking, several questions came to mind....

    There are so many tribes that are "recent" to powwows and wouldn't know to do this. If their drums were compromised and used in a powwow arena, would it affect the other drums and dancers?

    What about all women's drums?

    What does your tribe believe about this important issue?

    WhoMe, this is a very interesting topic and should be addressed more frequently. Here are a few thoughts I'd like to share with regards to the topic.

    Originally posted by WhoMe View Post
    There are so many tribes that are "recent" to powwows and wouldn't know to do this. If their drums were compromised and used in a powwow arena, would it affect the other drums and dancers?
    I think this is an issue that probably should fall on the hands/shoulders of the Arena Director or an Elder associated with the Pow Wow Committee. I don't see too many people "teaching" these ways anymore...partly because I guess the Elders aren't too sure on the ways of the other people who "pick up" this way of the pow wow. Would I be safe in saying that this way of the pow wow carries a certain responsibility for those who participate? I mean...shouldn't we all know what we're doing when we do it? And when we don't,...thats o.k....I'd hope someone would politely correct me when they see my intentions are good. Although I am not as old as some here......this is the approach I take with those around our drum. I could be wrong...but isn't that the way things are suppose to happen? I like to think I've had some really good teachers.

    I do think this all culminates sometimes and when things begin to go "harry"...we are quick to find things (hind-sight) and point the finger. This leads me to ask if this wouldn't have a little to do with the beliefs of the person? I.e. could our brains cause us to subconsciously create faults/problems?


    Originally posted by WhoMe View Post
    What about all women's drums?

    What does your tribe believe about this important issue?
    All women drums?...I don't feel it is my place to tell you that your way is wrong. That doesn't mean that I couldn't take the time to be educated about their people. However, if we're talking about women from my tribe or my wife's tribe having an all women's drum...then I know I can safely say that these are not the teachings of our people. Women are allowed around the drum...but that inner circle is for the men...the warriors of the people/village. While we live in a modern society with differing views on things (i.e. wearing underwear, bras, using toilet paper), our women are on the front lines defending our people. This is not to say that women didn't defend their people back then...I'm just saying there was a time and place for everything.



    Is it too much to ask for us to learn to separate modern society from traditional teachings?



    LSS
    Last edited by LSS; 10-07-2008, 09:57 PM.
    To get a true picture of your purpose in life, you only get the whole picture when you listen with your mind, your ears and your heart. This way The Creator has a direct connection with you and only you...no outside interference.

    When you follow the will of IT that created you, understanding that your purpose is not for you...but for IT and all that IT has created, there can be no wrong except failure to be obedient. Only then do we jeopardize the gifts we are given.

    Its not the final destination that defines us, rather the journey taken!

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    • #3
      Also, when the pow-wow is a big contest pow-wow versus a traditional pow-wow, do they require the same amount of respect?

      just curious to see the answers...
      The only time its too late to start dancing is when you're dead.

      Comment


      • #4
        In my area, NE Oklahoma, woman are not allowed to touch the drum. So far, I haven't seen this rule broken at any powwows around here. I'll be sure to let my kids know about this also. We just have to remember these traditions now that we're the adults with children. I keep having to remind myself that...lol..
        We will be known forever by the tracks we leave..Dakota leader.

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        • #5
          from my understanding my uncle always told me why women never went near the drum, he always told me that women are weakhearted and they give life to all good, if she went by the drum and there was bad feelings she can absorb all that negative energy.
          thats why i think women should never pick up a stick and sing.
          "Go Make Sweat!!!" -Sonny Kennedy- 2003


          don't get mad at me im just a critic

          Comment


          • #6
            I heard it was because women's medicine was too strong.
            The only time its too late to start dancing is when you're dead.

            Comment


            • #7
              I was always taught that a woman's moon is very powerful and can kill a lot of other types of medicine. I could totally understand that women are meant to keep away from the drum on the chance that they're getting their moon-or even pregnant. I know I wasn't allowed to do much-or touch certain things while I was pregnant...much like if I had my moon...

              But I was wondering what was acceptable as far as giving money/tobacco to a drum? I saw a guy walk over to a drum while they were singing and throw money into the middle of them, onto the drum...what's that about?
              ALSO-how do folks "give" tobacco to a drum...and for what....and are women allowed to do that?
              Last edited by Strugganona; 11-11-2008, 05:43 PM. Reason: wrong words
              "Talk Is Fine- If You Got The Time, But I Ain't Got No Time To Spare...."

              Comment


              • #8
                When I was younger, my mom told me that our Lakota people used to set up little lodges outside the main camp. When a woman was experiencing her moon, she would leave the main camp and reside in her own lodge away from the people, and especially away from the men charged with religious duties. When I was taught to sing a few years ago, it was by an older Lakota guy around retirement age, not quite an "elder" I suppose but he had kept some level of practice of our traditional culture for most of his life. He said that most people (in our community) who have drums leave them open to whoever wants to sit down, except women, for a few specific religious reasons that are not applicable to any other tribe. Those other tribes, however, may also have similar or other reasons to do the same. He personally didn't have a problem with a woman sitting at our drum if he knew her and her family, and knew that she would respect the drum and us enough never to come near us during her moon. But obviously, that would be a very personal and rude question to ask a woman and so the way around it is to simply institute a rule barring women from sitting at your drum. He believed in doing what offends people the least, and if that means not having a woman sitting with us in public, she would stand behind us and sing backup.

                I've been told many other things. Powwows are intertribal, so it's impossible to do 100% right in everyone's eyes and most people will accept that you are doing what you were taught. Although my family is Lakota and Ojibwe from Wakpala, SD and Winnipeg, ON, I grew up mostly in the Pacific Northwest where powwows were brought and adopted by local tribes more recently than in the Plains. They put on great powwows here, but just like anywhere else the protocols have strong local influence. First, women are allowed to sit at drums. If you have a drum group that doesn't allow women to sit and drum, it's OK because people will understand that your family is from elsewhere. But I run a youth drum group and sometimes it is hard to make a few of the local parents who are new to powwows, or just want to send their kids with us and never go themselves, understand why I do not invite women or girls to sit at our drum. I've even had to answer to a complaint with the Yakama Nation Housing Authority, whose building we use for practices, who demanded to know why they were getting reports that I told a girl that she couldn't sit at the drum but could only be a "backup singer". They were satisfied when I explained what I was taught. Also, some older Yakama powwow drummers have since assured me that in their own teachings, women didn't sit at powwow drums at one time but in the interest in keeping people involved and off drugs and alcohol, it became necessary to relax the rules a little from time to time. Tying my people's ways to my own drum rather than adopting local ways is still a bit if an issue I need to deal with in talking to some people occasionally, however.
                "Friends don't let friends drink decaf..."
                Wakalapi's $49 unlimited phone service www.49deal.com

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                • #9
                  These things are often taken to serious or not serious enough...best thing to do...whether something big happens or not...take grandpa home...n smoke him off...won't do any harm...if anything make u sing better next dance.
                  bucwild2012

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                  • #10
                    Where I live Women do not sit at the big drum, but do drum on other drums, but when it comes to your moon time, it's a big no. I think one of the difficulties when it comes to Women wanting to do this or that is that so many of the Women's teachings & practices are lost. I am fortunate that some of the Women around here are keeping these alive. For some things this is more difficult in the modern world. I think the young Women & those just learning need to be shown that life is not about all the things guys can do that they can't, they need to be shown all the things they get to do because they are Women. My youngest daughter is a little tomboy. Last year she said she wanted to be a firekeeper like (her) Dad. She wasn't happy that she couldn't because she was female, so one of the Grandma's present during this disscussion invited her to the water ceremony with the Women & told her that her brothers couldn't come. She was thrilled that there was something just for her. She is eagerly waiting to do other ceremonies that are just for the Women when her time comes. I think this balance is key to helping those who are new or young understand why there are things that they don't do. I think this is the difference between those of us who are fulfilled with doing what is for Women & those who want to know why they are being kept from Men's things. I also think this is why mainstream society has Women who believe that to be equal to Men they must copy Men, They don't understand the importance of being a Women.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      A lot depends on the person who owns the drum. I have seen "drum" keepers who have a space for their drums. I have seen others who just cover them up and keep them in plain sight in their homes.

                      If the person who owns the drum comes from a traditional community who's beliefs dictate drums can be compromised, than they will.

                      There are also plenty of women from these same communities who stay aware of their power.

                      __


                      I personally have kept the drum in question at my home so that it would not be further compromised.
                      Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by superndngyrl View Post
                        I heard it was because women's medicine was too strong.
                        I was told the same.

                        Comment

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