Spirit Wind Aboriginal Hand Drum and Singing

Our Community - Our Stories

These stories are our friends personal experiences of their introduction to the healing power of the hand drum. There are many different stories of when women's hand drumming began on Turtle Island. The stories of our communities will put voice to these differences to create harmony and understanding. The members of Spirit Wind are interested in hearing the stories of our surrounding communities. We open this section of our site to our brothers and sisters from our families and community. Email us at info@spiritwindmusic.com

My Hand Drumming Experiences

Buffy Sainte Marie

The Journey of The Drum

The Healing Power of Drum and Dance

My Hand Drumming Experiences

I would like to share with you this much while I have the rare chance. Anyways, here is a story about my hand drumming experiences.

It was my first baby shower, two weeks after my daughter was born, and a friend from school (Trent University) had invited me over and threw me this surprise gathering. After the usual present giving and binge-eating, these women, three sisters actually, brought out their hand drums and began singing. They started with the Mkwa Song. I knew they were Sundancers, I knew they were very special people and this medicine took hold of me and my daughter and changed our lives forever...

I have always been an artist. Ever since I was conceived, I am at home in the surroundings of music and artistic expression. I received a great deal of music training in theory and performance, won awards, scholarships, placements, etc. But that evening, as I sat and listened to these songs for the first time, I knew I had found something more than music, more than cultural, I had found a home again in my heart.

We went on to form one of the first female Hand Drum groups in the territory, since well anyone can remember, called Ishki-Bimaadziwin, or The Good Life, New Life. We sang all the Sundance Songs them women knew, the Strong Woman Song, Peltier, AIM Song, our friend's song she wrote with her brother in childhood, songs that came in visions and dreams, including my own later that year.

Always, when a new person came to the group whatever place and time we happened to be practicing, it was the same question, Do you have any songs you'd like to share? Women, sitting together, with our kids, and sometimes our men, singing, laughing, celebrating. Once we sang for our friend leaving for out west. We opened for the Elder's Gathering, replacing, for the first time since anyone can remember, the Big Drum.

Plenty of men were angry with us over those first few years. We'd sing at Pow Wows and get in trouble for using big drum songs, and some not wanting us there at all. I guess it's okay when we're in the kitchen preparing feast food, though! I can remember back then, feeling like our men were privileged because of that Big Drum. That they got all the glory? What's there for us?

I know now that our men have their own set of trials that differ from our own. And I also found many men who love to hear our voices singing with those hand drums. I, and many others, are asked much more frequently nowadays to open/close ceremonies, host our own gatherings, listen to our recordings. They love us, those men, and can appreciate what we do and how hard we work as women. We will always encounter resistance when exploring new avenues.

Hand Drums have been in existence for centuries, if not millennia, but Hand Drumming, as a musical genre, has really blossomed over the past decade. I like to feel that I played a very small part in that. As a traditional part of what we do, I know that I have that part of my culture firmly planted in my family and myself. As a musical outlet, I feel like I am home again. I have always loved to sing. My Dad was a local country/rock hero, so it comes naturally. To be surrounded in music is to live. To sing is to breathe for me, and I lost that along the way. I found more than my voice that day with those women, I found myself, my passion, my way back to me.

Lisa Marie Milliken

Buffy Sainte Marie

Buffy Sainte Marie was one of the first woman to pick up the hand drum and perform in public about 25 years ago. She has been a role model and inspiration to Native Women all over our home, Turtle Island.

My own personal experience with hand drumming has been a journey that began when I first heard the women in Toronto singing at Fullmoon Ceremonies, at Anishnawbe Health. I heard women's hand drumming at Pow Wows and then starting to learn the songs.

When I was pregnant with my last child, Destiny, she would dance and kick up a storm when we sang the Strong Woman Song. I received my first drum shortly before her birth 5 years ago, and have been drumming ever since.

In the spirit of Crazy Horse,
Cindy Sharma

The Journey of The Drum

Sweet Water WomenMiigwetch to Spirit Wind for inviting Sweet Water Women to be a part of their website!! We are Deborah, Darlene, Linda and Marilyn, and each come from different cultures and backgrounds. We met each other in a drumming circle at N’Swakamok Native Friendship Center, in Sudbury, Ontario. This is one of several drumming circles in the Sudbury area, and a place where men, women and children come together in friendship and fellowship to drum and sing.

Sweet Water Women came together in the Spring of 2003, with the intent of carrying these songs and their important messages to the world, to raise an awareness of respect and gratitude to the Creator, Mother Earth and all they provide. Our individual paths have been largely influenced by the North American Aboriginal Culture, and are strongly reflected in our music. Our CD is entitled Sweet Water, and consists of original songs that came from Spirit through meditation and inspiration. Our World Aboriginal live stage performance consists of sacred sounds you might hear in many tribal societies around the world. The Drum is at the center of our music, but we also express ourselves through harmony, chants, shakers, bells, didjeridoo, bodhran, or just about anything that will make sound.

The Drum is the heart beat of Mother Earth, and it helps us to connect with the sacred. What we are feeling in our hearts when we are drumming is what we send out to all of Creation. When used in a loving way, it has the power to uplift, to enlighten, and to relay our messages of love, respect, gratitude and celebration. The Drum has taken us all on a journey that we could never have imagined, one that is exciting, fulfilling, and at the same time challenging.

We would encourage others to explore the drumming circles in their area, and perhaps even make a drum. Check with your local Native Friendship Center to see what is available through the Drum -- you never know what kind of wonderful journey it might take you on.

Sweet Water Women ~ Darlene, Linda, Marilyn and Deborah

Visit the web site of Sweet Water Women

The Healing Power of Drum and Dance

Boozhoo! Naaniibwiin Miigaanaakwe dishnacause Toronto donjaba. My name is Standing Feather Woman and I am living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I am 29 years old and I grew up in a little place called Trenton. I was 12 when I moved from there. My father passed away when I was 7. My Mom married when I turned 12 and then my life began as being a victim of abuse.

It wasn't until I moved to Toronto that I learned my native history. I thought growing up that I was the only Native kid because that's all I saw when I was growing up. I learned a lot from the time I was 18 until now and I am still learning.

I met Michele about 6 or 7 years ago. I was really messed up and I really wanted to learn more and I wanted to learn how to drum. It wasn't until I wanted to get cleaned up that I wanted to learn. Michele had told me that if I wanted to drum then I'd have to be clean and sober. In order to drum I tried to stay sober and I just went back out there. I guess I wasn't finished partying but I still kept coming back wanting to learn the songs. It was about 2 1/2 yrs ago I really got serious about drumming and I really owe it to my Higher Power and to all the support of my friends and family that I call family that's here in Toronto and around Ontario.

I am really honoured to be able to learn about my culture and I am grateful for my life today and wouldn't give it up for the world. Some people might think that I'm crazy for saying this but I am glad that I went through what I did and learned my lessons from them. I really like drumming with Michele and I want to continue drumming with Michele and the other women that we drum with at the Native Canadian Centre. Since then, I've been waiting to get my own songs to record. I think that learning my culture and learning how to drum and dance is what keeps me clean and sober. I think that if I didn't have this then I think that I'd still be out there. I really like to thank Michele and the rest of the gang for being so supportive of me and helping me when I fall or get out of line (lol - laughing out loud). I hope that I can help other people the way people helped me.

Tanya Anakons ~ Standing Feather Woman

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