Big drum group full of stories
How many of you know what a drum is and how it’s made?
Just like humans, each drum, be it a hand drum or a big drum, has its own unique voice and vibration. The drum represents the “universal heart beat.” Listen, can you hear it? The sound is building deep within the heart of a drummer. It is rhythmic, and it is powerful. Drums have been one of the universal signals for calling people together in a good way.
The drums are humanity’s common pulse. Drums do not know about race, jealousy, hate, resentment, greed, language, gender, or human diversity. None of that matters. What matters is inclusively and the sound of one heart beating.
The men from long ago, were to respect women and their leadership role in the community.
Men were never to raise their voice or hands against women, children or the old ones.They were to protect the “giver of life” by all means necessary. However, the women were also told by their grand-mothers, to honour and respect the men, never to gossip about their husband, even to their very best friend.
I am honoured today to share stories from the young men who are members of the Big Drum. The name of their group is “People of the Creeks,” because they are from many places. Just like the creeks, the water follows a path giving nourishment whereever it’s needed.
This is Adrian Retasket’s story. Adrian was brought up, not in his own home by his own parents, but in many broken homes. He never really had a safe and comfortable home life. He began to travel the powwow trail when he was just 13 years old, going to every powwow that he could.
He was searching for that family he never had.
After five or six powwows, he wanted to sing and to dance.
He asked if he could join and they welcomed him into their circle and gave him his first regalia. Powwow people often do this for a young person, and the group became his family.
Adrian later got his own regalia; however, people offered him many things to add to his regalia. It takes money to buy a regalia, so Adrian appreciated the gifts.
He has been dancing for 10 years now and he is passionate about the drum. He was introduced to the drum by his mentor in Kamloops.
Adrian says the group calls the drum, “The Drum” because no one really owns the drum. The drum more powerful than the group that sits around it.
The group is the drum carriers that take care of it together, because it takes care of us, says Adrian. “We feed it, give it a drink once in a while, and tobacco is a must gift to the drum.”
The drum gives the group good feelings and brings them up when they are feeling down.
The guys came together in Merritt but they come from different groups. Some of the guys came from Little Hawk; one sings with his family drum at Iron Mountain; others sing with whomever.
At times, one has to wait for the special gift of a voice to sing. Prayer is a must, Adrian says, along with sweat lodge and smudging .
“People of the Creeks” sing and dance for the people and for the elders. Thank you very much Adrian for sharing your story.
Now the story of Garrett Mountainchief. Garrett Mike is 13 years old. He attends CMS and is in Grade 8. His mother is Wenona Mike and his father was the late Ben Paul Jr. Garrett, who began singing with his uncles at the age of six. He says he has many adopted uncles from all over the powwow country. He sits at the Big Drum with his step dad, Leonard Bearshirt, and his uncle, Nathan.
Both men have taught Garrett a lot about the Big Drum, what it means, what songs to sing and, most importantly, about the protocols of every song.
His step dad, Leonard, and his uncle have the old teachings from people that taught them, which they are now passing on to Garrett.
Garrett, for his young age, is truly honoured, and has much respect towards his mentors.
He is also a traditional dancer in the teen category. Garrett says, “I started to drum, cause the songs make me feel good and my spirit happy. It’s a good feeling I can’t explain.”
Garrett admires his Grandpa, Arnie Narcisse, his uncle, Ted Tom, and uncles, Montana and Nathan Mountainchief, and his step dad.
The men in Garrett’s life have contributed much to his young life. His mother and grandmother have also been a great influence.
Here are just two stories from the “People of the Creeks” drum group.
There are more to write about, so keep your eyes open for the next article.
As Always in Friendship