A Drum for the Pow-Wow

There are many reasons to have a drum. There are also many types of drums. Most people think of the large ceremonial drums used for dancing or singing. Some people even think that there is a drum called a tom-tom. That is only a stereotype. Reasons to have a drum are dancing, singing, decoration or painting with important things that have happened like births or weddings or deaths, and handed down from generation to generation.

These were some of the things explained by Clifford Latta. He was the instructor that led us through the drum assembly. The construction is pretty straight forward. Hide, elk or deer, is stretched over a wood hoop, and tied and secured with leather thongs on the underside. The hide is cured, but wet to make the hide easier to stretch. Proper assembly takes less than four hours. The real work is in the decoration. If you're going to use the drum for drumming or to just hang on a wall. There are many things that could be used to decorate your drum. Beads, nuts, animal bones, feathers, fur, anything that might have meaning. I kept mine simple, with some feathers from a grouse and rabbit fur.

The couple of hours spent making my drum left me feeling uplifted. Listening to the hide tighten as it stretched and dried in the sun was very unique. My heart goes out to Clifford Latta and I wish a good life for my drum brother.


Nick Sherer