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The Drum #1: The Tipi & The Drum

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Blog entry by MsDebbieP posted 872 days ago 3174 reads 1 time favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of The Drum series Part 2: Birthing The Drum »

March 3, 2012

Most people who know me know that I have been on a journey of discovering Native traditions and even have had a tipi in my backyard for some time. Most gardeners know the healing power of gardening. Honouring all things and connecting with nature and the energies of the universe are very important to me.

 

Last week I was contacted by Tracy at roughandtumbled.ca who was seeking contact information for a Native Elder who conducts ceremonies to “birth” hand-made drums. I didn’t have a name for them but I did ask that I be kept in mind for future drum-making events.

On Thursday I got an email saying that someone had to back out at the last moment and their drum was available. I jumped at the chance.

And so today I spent the day making my own drum. There were ten drum-makers, our two hosts (Tracy and Rob) and our Ojibwe guides Anthony and Karen.

 

The Drum Frame
The drum frame is three layers of circular pieces of yellow cedar (circular, not joined). My drum is 12”. Most were 14” and one was 18”, I do believe.
Our first task was to give it a nice sanding and then coat the edge with some beeswax.

 

 

The Sinew
The next step was to cut.. and cut .. and cut .. and cut a piece of rawhide (deer) into one long strip of 1/2” sinew. Oh my hand. Two hours of struggling with scissors cutting and cutting and cutting. As a left-hander, scissors and I have never gotten along. I was put to the test of concentration and commitment. I am reminded of LumberJock Matthew (10 years old) who said, “we’ll get through it” … and we did.

 

 

The Drum Skin
With that task completed .. finally… we punched holes around the edge of the drum skin. Mine was deer hide. Some skins were elk. By folding the circular skin in a series of halves we punched a total of 16 “pairs” of holes.

 

 

Lacing
After a DELICIOUS lunch we continued on and added the lacing to the drum.
This was a task that took very good “spacial awareness” as many of us struggled with getting the rhythm of the order of holes. 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock.. right to left.. outside to inside.. But, back to Matthew – “we’ll get through it” and we did.

 

 

Having strung the sinew laces we then had to tighten them – again testing our brains as we, once again, had to find a rhythm of where we were and where we were headed. Follow the sinew.. pull… follow the sinew—don’t go in reverse and undo what you just did….. “We’ll get through it”.

 

 

With it tightened, we then tied sections together forming the handle and once again tightening the sinew. Thirteen wraps, representing the thirteen moons in the year. Next, seven rows of weaving, representing the 7 Grandfather Teachings: Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, Truth.
This was repeated four times.

 

 

Drying The Drum
When I got home, I hung the drum in the living room. It will take about two weeks to dry out.

When the light was right this is what I saw through the drum:

 

 

Birthing the Drum
These drums are not ornamental. They are Sacred creations and they won’t be used until they have gone through the birthing ceremony. Our ceremony is scheduled for the end of the month.

Then I will be out in the old tipi or in my cabin helping the drum sing as I look around my gardens, seeing and honouring all that Is.

 

(Here are photos from the Host's Facebook page)

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)



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MsDebbieP

14670 posts in 2567 days
hardiness zone 5b

gardening is a journey, a journey of learning how to connect with and support Mother Nature

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21 comments so far

View Dave Bardin's profile

Dave Bardin

43 posts in 1260 days
hardiness zone 8

posted 872 days ago

MS. Debbie I enjoyed that so much. The native Americans can teach us so much. My grandmother was mostly Indian and she would take me in the woods. We would pick five or six items and return home to cook and eat them. She knew what you could and couldn’t eat. There history is amazing and there is a legend or story for most everything. Thanks for sharing your journey making your wonderful drum. I really enjoyed the legend of the back.

-- No mater where you go there you are ~dave~

View Karson's profile

Karson

242 posts in 2446 days

posted 872 days ago

Great story Debbie.

A great tradition good luck on the rest of the travels.

-- Karson retired in DE e-mail karson_morrison@bigfoot.com

View daltxguy's profile

daltxguy

882 posts in 1664 days
hardiness zone 4a

posted 872 days ago

That’s awesome and beautiful!

Would have been good if you got to harvest the yellow cedar, hunt the deer and tan the hide too but that’s probably too much for 1 day , isn’t it?

Nice to see that the crafts are being kept alive. The biggest shame would be to lose the knowledge.

-- Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves. - Thoreau

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MsDebbieP

14670 posts in 2567 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 871 days ago

Daltxguy … well… part of caring for the drum is to keep it wrapped when not in use. Knowing that, I took with me a tanned deer hide. Rick, as you know is a hunter: he shot the deer (I can’t remember if this one was with a bow or a gun), we had the hide tanned (I have tried tanning hides in the past but wasn’t very successful). So it was sort of more personal than at first glance.

Dave: The greatest thing about the Native Traditions is that they honour all things and all actions. If everyone was more aware and more respectful, we’d have a better world, for sure.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

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stefang

393 posts in 1546 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 871 days ago

Wonderful blog Debbie and a beautiful result on your drum. It’s too bad our society today lacks the kind of reverence and respect for nature and each other, taught through the generations by the Native American Tribes. I like that you are actively seeking to learn the details of these values. I’m sure you will enjoy many benefits from your journey.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

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MsDebbieP

14670 posts in 2567 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 871 days ago

thank you.

I agree—if we treated everything with respect…

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View jroot's profile

jroot

5046 posts in 2197 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 871 days ago

This is beautiful, MsDebbieP. Great photos and story. I am in awe at the beauty of the drum, and the story and history behind it.

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

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MsDebbieP

14670 posts in 2567 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 871 days ago

I agree :)

I forgot to mention .. in the picture of me holding my drum you can see a piece of sinew hanging in the middle.. that is the “umbilical cord” which will be cut during the birthing ceremony. Interesting.

Here is a story about the birthing process: http://www.frontenacnews.ca/2010/10-15_apr_15/drum_10-15.html

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Bon's profile

Bon

7374 posts in 2347 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 871 days ago

What an interesting blog Debbie.I was fascinated with the story and the pictures made the process of making the drum so much clearer to me.Your drum looks great and good luck with the next step of the birthing.Pictures of that ritual added to this blog would be really special.Thanks for sharing it with us.

-- Bon,Hastings,Ont.....zone 5a....Always room for one more

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MsDebbieP

14670 posts in 2567 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 871 days ago

thanks Bon.

Here are more photos from the day (taken by the event’s hosts)

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View MickeyD's profile

MickeyD

66 posts in 2079 days
hardiness zone 11

posted 870 days ago

Thank you Debbie. I could feel your pain and triumph as you progressed through the making of your drum.

-- Mickey, California desert gardener

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MsDebbieP

14670 posts in 2567 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 870 days ago

thanks Mickey.
I try not to think about all that cutting … “next time” I will use my own scissors!!

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View justjoel's profile

justjoel

1058 posts in 1947 days
hardiness zone 7a

posted 869 days ago

Fascinating! What a incredible way to spend a day, a life. As a kid, I always prefered to play the “Indian,” and I think that somehow even back then I knew that the ways of the Native People were to be more respected than the ways of the intruders. A bow and arrow seemed more honest to me than a gun: made by hand from nature to serve those that were one with nature. I envy those that know their surrondings, their home, and the ways of the flora and fauna that they share the land and water with. Returning to many of the lost ways of the Native People could surely help save us all.

I do hope you’ll capture the birthing on film, if appropriate, MsDeb. I suspect it will be on a new moon, yes?

-- "We are stardust. We are golden. And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." Joni Mitchell

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MsDebbieP

14670 posts in 2567 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 869 days ago

I agree …

the birthing is held on the only Saturday that everyone was available. People came from 2 hours in every direction (well not 2 hours from the south haha as I’m only an hour from the Great Lakes).

as for filming I am not sure whether that will be ok. But I’ll be asking.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

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MsDebbieP

14670 posts in 2567 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 868 days ago

As I watch my drum, I see the moon in the shadows and I am reminded of the “The 13 Original Clan Mothers”, my favourite book, written by Jamie Sams.

Each month represents one of the 13 moons of the year, each representing a piece of Wisdom.

My drum was created at the first of March and it shall be “birthed” at the end of March. “March” is the month of the Clan Mother “Weighs the Truth”.

“Weighs the Truth” is about checking in to make sure you are listening and looking with truthful eyes, looking beyond the first glance, beyond one’s own biases and moods of the moment.

I am making a bag to carry my drum and have decided to decorate it in honour of this “Weighs the Truth” wisdom.

Using the online translators, the words for “weigh” and for “truth”, in Ojibwe, are variations of: dibaabaajige debwe.

I find it interesting that the words, “dib…” and “deb…” resemble my name!
Oh.. and my birthday is in the month of March.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

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Radicalfarmergal

4296 posts in 1830 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 867 days ago

Beautiful post, Debbie. Enjoy your drum and all the memories you made in the process.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

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MsDebbieP

14670 posts in 2567 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 867 days ago

will do! Thanks.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View MichaelAgate's profile

MichaelAgate

5 posts in 863 days

posted 863 days ago

Debbie, beautiful drum. Very nice setting as well, with all the folk around the table it looked very intimate. :) I have had a number of email from people commenting on the “We’ll Get Through It” comment. We are glad it gave you the courage to keep going, but i’m pretty sure you would have made it anyhow. I know I commented on your drum before, not sure if it was from the Google+ lumberjocks page or on LJ’s itself. It really is a fantastic looking drum :)

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MsDebbieP

14670 posts in 2567 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 863 days ago

thanks :)

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

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helluvawreck

1 post in 407 days

posted 407 days ago

This was really interesting, MsDebbie. The drum is beautiful.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

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MsDebbieP

14670 posts in 2567 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 407 days ago

Thank-you, Charles!

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

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