Students celebrate Indigenous Awareness Week and learn drum making

Practical arts serve as important traditions for Indigenous communities

Students participated in a drum making seminar to explore traditional Indigenous culture. (Aidan Grether/The Omega)

Bernard Chantyman taught traditional drum-making to eighteen students and members of the community as an important piece of Indigenous Awareness Week. Students were given a lesson from Chantyman, an experienced drum maker, in tying knots, stringing and sewing the hide over the frame.

When asked about painting the drum, Chantyman spoke about the tradition in Indigenous cultures painting their drums: “it represents something within your people, and often is a piece of a larger story.”

Chantyman also mentioned that drums weren’t usually painted until about a year of being used: “There are scars and marks on the drum hide already, and to apply paint on top of the drum dampens the sound if done too early. Today, it’s common to use paint pens or gel ink art pens because it holds to the skin much better without changing the sound of the drum.”

Drumming is an important part of many Indigenous cultures. The techniques of making the drums, from the frame to the tanning of the hides, and sewing the drum together are passed down from elders.

“Drums are the heart of our storytelling culture, and we use them in connecting to our community,” Chantyman said.

Students were given the chance to participate in the art and usage of the drum in the Indigenous Awareness Week seminar.

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