The Drum Speaking

A few years ago we made hand drums. A Cree woman came to Vancouver and offered drum making workshops and we signed up for one. Neither of us had made a drum before and the idea excited us.

            The workshop took place at a local college. I remember that day because of the laughter and the joy everyone took in the pursuit of new knowledge. I also remember the look of pride on the faces of people, just like us, who had never made a drum or engaged in a cultural experience.

            We came away with good feelings and a pair of great sounding drums. For awhile we hung them on the wall of our home and played them often. Then, when a friend helped us move to our new home in the mountains, I gave him mine as gift.

            That’s the way things are supposed to go in a tribal way. You offer the things you create, the things you struggle for, as gifts in order to honor the gift itself. My friend had never had a drum and the fact that I would give him mine brought us closer and strengthened our friendship.

            Well, that was a few years ago now and we still have the other drum. It hangs in a place of honor on the wall of our new home and we have used it in ceremonies and at gatherings regularly. It’s been blessed and smudged and prayed with. It’s a valuable tool in our spiritual path.

            Every now and then, mostly when things are quiet and we sit in the peace of our mountain home, that drum will make a sound. Sometimes it’s a pluck on the thongs that keep it tight. Other times there’s a soft sound like a tap on the face of it.

            Each time that happens we smile. For us it feels as though an unseen visitor has shown us that we are not alone, that we are being watched over and protected. It’s a very special feeling and those quiet unassuming events are filled with honor and respect.

            Some people might say we make too much of a simple thing. But to us, the drum sounds are indicators of the presence of the spiritual, of ancestors watching over us. I could believe otherwise but it doesn’t feel right. We believe that magic exist all around us. It feels better that way.


About Richard Wagamese

I am a published author with 13 titles published by major Canadian publishers. I am a First Nations person from the Ojibway Nation in Northwestern, Ontario, Canada. As a professional writer since 1979 I have written for newspaper, radio television, magazines and book publishing. I love the culture of books and the people who populate it. 2012 recipient of the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Media & Communications. View all posts by Richard Wagamese

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