MN Native News: Women’s Hand Drum Gathering
MN Native News: Women’s Hand Drum Gathering
Marie: This is Minnesota Native News, I’m Marie Rock.
Headlines: This week… Women’s Handrumming groups gathered at the Cloquet Foresty Center to share songs and knowledge… to make drums, and celebrate community.
Here’s Reporter Leah Lemm with the story.
STORY #1 - WOMEN’S HAND-DRUM GATHERING
REPORTER: The Oshkii Gizhiik Singers Women’s Handrum Gathering is an annual event that includes individual hand drum participants and groups from around the state.
The participants at the gathering span generations and backgrounds. In attendance are the Strawberry Moon Singers, Ikidowin Youth, Oshkii Gizhik Singers… plus members of the Fond du Lac Sober Squad, and the group Helping Others With Addiction and Healing (HOWAH). All are here to connect, learn, and sing songs.
When I arrive at the gathering, the morning is grey. But inside the conference room at the Cloquet Forest History Center, it is bright with ribbon skirts and smiling faces. I’m invited to join the circle and sing along. I’m a bit nervous since I don’t know any songs, but I’m honored to add my voice and so I give it a try.
Across the circle sits Lyz Jaakola. She sings with the hosting drum group, Oshki Giizhik Singers.
LYZ JAAKOLA: [Anishinaabemowin] I'm from Fond du Lac reservation. [Anishinaabemowin] I teach at the Fond du Lac tribal and community college. I teach music there. I also do community organizing around singing around language initiatives around environmental issues. And we started this hand drum gathering over 10 years ago.
When we first started having the gathering, we were intentional about inviting elders from different communities to share the teachings because I think that is kind of sewing our communities back together, uh, with, with the women's teachings and women's, you know, community work.
REPORTER: And as I chat with the women, it really is apparent how connected they are through singing and drumming. Lyz learned how to make drums from Sharon Day, who is also in attendance.
SHARON DAY: my real name is [Anishinaabemowin] Singing Wolf from Boise Forte. I’m the executive director of the indigenous people's task force. And I lead Nibi walks along the rivers and I help with the Ikidowen youth theater ensemble and I do hand drumming.
I grew up singing and my family and my dad never had a drum, but he would take us outside and turn a can over of Arco coffee and he would do a teaching and then he would sing and we would, we would dance. So I grew up singing and learning songs. I'd say like in the 70s, my sisters and I, we started doing sweats and, going to ceremonies and so we learned songs.
And everybody liked it and we became the Neeconis Women Singers. Sometime in the 90s I asked, an Ojibwe man, William Wilson, if he would teach me how to make hand drum. And he did. and I made hand drums from by myself for a while, me and my grandson. Then I started, um, teaching women how to make hand drums.
REPORTER: As we sit in the circle singing, I notice a woman with bright red hair and a strong voice holding a lovely looking drum with deep purple swirls.
SARAH CURTISS:My name is Sarah Curtiss in English. My Anishinaabe name is [Anishinaabemowin]. I'm Eagle clan and I am the Co-executive director for an organization called Men As Peacemakers.
I actually was gifted that drum by a couple in Canada that make those kinds of drums. It's really special to me because I say the Creator made me a weird Indian on purpose, like the kind with different color hair that likes to be punk rock. I bead spiked bracelets that I wear all the time and I love the color and the uniqueness of that because I come from a family that was really impacted by relocation, by foster care system and these things.
REPORTER: Sarah first met Lyz at an art festival and Lyz encouraged her to join the hand drum group.
SARAH CURTISS: I remember drumming and being just pitiful and like just having it done and then leaving, walking out of the tribal college and having someone say to me wow, you have a good voice… being a survivor of violence and being a survivor of a lot of trauma, like that really did something for me. And so singing with this group really taught me how to find my voice and how to use it powerfully and use it together with other Indian people, Indian women.
REPORTER: And as we all sing together, repeating the musical lines again and again, I no longer feel nervous, but a sense of calm and belonging.
For Minnesota Native News, I’m Leah Lemm.
This week… Women’s Handrumming groups gathered at the Cloquet Foresty Center to share songs and knowledge… to make drums, and celebrate community.