If you’ve ever been to a pow-wow or listened to Native American music, you’ve probably heard the great big sound of a group drum, called a pow-wow drum. Here’s a craft that will allow you to recreate the type of drumming done at pow-wows and get the experience of making that type of music together with your family and friends.
What’s A Traditional Pow-Wow Drum?
In the photo below, you can see the Seven Cedars Women’s drum group and their very special drum. You’ll notice everyone sits around the drum and each person has their own drum beater. When they play, everyone strikes the drum at the same time and the sound is incredibly loud and powerful. It creates wonderful music for listening and dancing as well.
A Frameless Pow-Wow Drum
A Native American historian named Tom Bee says that the first big drums were probably made only from an animal skin. Because our ancestors would have been frequently on the move and traveling from one area to another, they could not carry a large heavy drum with a big wooden frame. So, instead, they would carry a large animal skin and their own drum beaters. When they wanted to make music, they could sit in a circle and each one would hold the drum in one hand and strike with the other hand. Perhaps this is the story of how the first pow-wow drum was born!
How Do You Make It?
You can make your own version of this pow-wow drum by using any sturdy or durable fabric like vinyl, suede, leather or fake skin from a fabric store. A strong plastic tablecloth or tarp will work as well. Simply cut the fabric into a shape that resembles a large animal skin and decorate, if you like. If you draw on the face of the drum, you can use images that are meaningful to you, like animals that you find inspirational or images such as the sun or the stars.
And then, each person who will play the pow-wow drum will need a drum beater. You can find an easy drum beater craft in the links below.
Playing the Drum
Just like in the time of our ancestors, you can sit around the pow-wow drum and make music. Pow-wow drumming is done with all drummers playing together. Everyone’s stick should strike the drum at the very same time. It makes for a powerful sound and shows how any activity can be stronger when it is powered by cooperation and created by the joining of many hearts and minds as one.
If you check out the links below, you can hear the Starfeather drum group from the Jemez Pueblo. You can also drum along to this song called: “Ride, Horse, Ride”. This song was recorded with a smaller pueblo drum but keeps a great beat and shares a message of how animals can inspire and teach us.
Learn More About Native American Culture
Please stay tuned to this series for more great articles on Native American topics for children. Check out the links below as well as resources in your area such as Native American museums and cultural groups. And don’t forget the give-aways and prizes here – they are a wonderful way to understand and share the beauty and value of the very diverse “first peoples” of North America and of the world!
Links and Resources
Hear the Starfeather Drum Group
You Are Welcome At A Native American Pow-Wow (Post on Pow-Wow Etiquette)
Welcome to our second annual celebration of Native American Heritage Month! All month long we’ll be sharing posts about sharing these rich cultures with kids. Find our full schedule of posts below, and don’t forget to link up your own as well! We’ll also be having a big giveaway (details coming soon!) You can find even more ideas on our Native/Indigenous Cultures Pinterest board:
Crafty Moms Share
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes
The Mommy Factor
Creative World of Varya
Castle View Academy
Back of the TapTap
Enter Our Giveaway!
Grand Prize Package
From Five Star Publications: Nanisé, a Navajo Herbal (US Shipping Only)
First Prize Package
$50 Gift Certificate to Zazzle
From Wisdom Tales Press: Red Cloud’s War (US Shipping Only)
Second Prize Package
From Daria – World Music for Children: Handmade owl pottery from the Jemez Pueblo (US Shipping Only)
From Birchbark Books: The Birchbark House (US Shipping Only)
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Link up your own posts on sharing Native American heritage with kids!
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