Monday, April 17, 2017

Indigenous Woman Blasting the Big Drum

Had a visit with a friend of mine, Gladys.  She is a very good person. One of those kind generous giving folk. She is on a journey of good life; mino-bimaadiziwin. That life is honouring and following the Traditions of our Ancestors - Keta Anishinaabe. Today we talked about the Big Drum.
She is one of those women; the women who sit on the Big Drum. Women on the Big Drum is becoming more and more common. She also said Women are taking back the Stick.

There is a radio show on CBC called Unreserved. It is an Indigenous content one hour segment hosted by an Indigenous woman. On this one episode there was a focus on this young Women's Drum group.  A group of high school students in Regina is bucking the trend by participating in an all-female Indigenous drum group at Thom CollegiateThe discussion on the Facebook site of Unreserved had a number of Women commenting on the Drum and how good to see patriarchy challenged. A number of the comments seemed to leaning towards man bashing. That's fair in today's climate considering how the world is treating Women.  The trend of Women on the Big Drum is relatively new as the Big Drum was mainly men's territory.

One thing missing in the Unreserved segment was the Drum Teachings. The focus was more on Women breaking barriers or perceived barriers they face. It is true there is discrimination towards Women on the Big Drum. I do think the discrimination will subside overtime. However right now there are those who hold on to the Teaching of the Drum. I admit I am not a Powwow aficionado but I have been fortunate enough to listen when someone speaks. I had the opportunity to be at Teachings in Pipe Stone Minnesota years ago. The Pipe Stone Sundance was about to take place and there were days prior to the Sundance Ceremony for Teachings. Elder Eddie Benton was speaking on the Big Drum. The Big Drum is the Heartbeat of Mother Earth. The Big Drum was the Women's and they gave the Men the Right to have the sticks for the Drum. It was Women who gave the sticks for the Drum to the men and that is why they sit at the Drum. I asked Benton about Women on the Big Drum and he asked me, "Did Women take back the stick?" End of conversation. Another Teaching to note is that the Drum represents Woman and the Stick, represent Men. The Heartbeat of the Drum is life and it is Women and Men which make life (not Women and Women). So this might be why there is some apprehension with seeing Women on the Big Drum. Another note is the Women around the Big Drum when men are singing they look like back up singers and most call them just that, back up singers. The Women are the Drum and so are part of the protection and overseers of the Drum.

The discussion of Women being barred from the Big Drum is a cause taking up by feminist advocates. They are wrong. Its not a feminist fight. Its not truly about men taking power from the Women. I think the discussion coming from the Traditional women is the strongest argument on the situation. I have heard it now I think it is true; women are taking back the stick of the Big Drum. You know why? Its because men have lost their way. Its not that women are inferior. It is because men have forgotten the true role of Women and their place in our lives. Men (and Women) have bought into the tenets of Christianity where Women are made from man's rib and they are responsible for tempting man thus getting him kicked out of Eden and starting original sin. Women are less. When its not the case. Women are the true powers of bringing life to our Nation. We don't live that life of honouring Women. We say we do but our actions show otherwise. Just look at our Leadership entities and the lobby groups. It is an anomaly to see Women in leadership roles.

With so much conflict happening in both our communities and what is happening to the land, the Women are stepping up to the battle. Men are too busy hanging to roles that establishment promotes; men in suits making high level decisions. When our youth are attacking each other, selling drugs, selling women, beating women, killing Women and men have abandoned the role of being a Dad. Many Mom's are left to raise and care for children without men. While many Men carry themselves in a very good way, there are many that are lost. Some even use the Drum in a bad way. Sitting at the Drum while high or hung over, or seeing as a way to get after Women or just earn money.

Women are taking back the stick and men need to see why.


Women are going to establish the balance which exists.


I heard a presenter share a teaching about how men lost more of their roles in Native life than women did. I believe that is why men suffered greater loss with the destruction of our culture & life ways. Men could no longer be the providers & protectors of their families. Men could no longer earn their honors as warriors, chiefs & hunters, spiritual leaders & wisdom keepers. How could men grow into roles that were main targets for attacks by oppressors?
But women could still be valued & honored as creators of life, nurturers & becoming the backbone of our families & communities. Today women are more involved with tribal organizations & employment in tribal government than men. I think women are seen as less of a threat to the European power structures so women have a better chance to succeed. As a Native woman, I can recognize the losses our men have experienced. I don't feel the need to take back the stick and sit at the big drum. Let our fathers, husbands, sons, brothers & nephews keep that honor.




5 comments:

  1. So: let's hear the drum please.

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  2. Are there any videos of the siging? :)

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  3. Im happy to see this happening.

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  4. I heard a presenter share a teaching about how men lost more of their roles in Native life than women did. I believe that is why men suffered greater loss with the destruction of our culture & life ways. Men could no longer be the providers & protectors of their families. Men could no longer earn their honors as warriors, chiefs & hunters, spiritual leaders & wisdom keepers. How could men grow into roles that were main targets for attacks by oppressors?
    But women could still be valued & honored as creators of life, nurturers & becoming the backbone of our families & communities. Today women are more involved with tribal organizations & employment in tribal government than men. I think women are seen as less of a threat to the European power structures so women have a better chance to succeed. As a Native woman, I can recognize the losses our men have experienced. I don't feel the need to take back the stick and sit at the big drum. Let our fathers, husbands, sons, brothers & nephews keep that honor.

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  5. Miigwetch. We have suffered as a whole people for sure. My Mom used to say there has to be a Heaven and Indians are going to go there because we sure suffered on Earth.
    Haven't thought of it in that context about Men having lost more. Thanks for the post. Its something to balance what we have lost.

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