Why natives used drums and how were they made.


The Drum has been part of every culture on earth, prominent at one time or another. For our native people the drum represents the heart beat. It is believed that the inside of an actual longhouse represents the inside of a whale. The large beams and planks of wood representing the spine and ribs of a whale, while the drums are considered its heartbeat and the songs represent the spirit of the whale.

How a drum is made is quite a process for the drum maker. First, he must find a plank of wood that is long enough and thin enough that – when steamed – will bend, forming a circle to make the rim of a drum. Nowadays the rims can be modular (consisting of many interlocking pieces) and can have many shapes other than a circle.

Removing the fur is a very lengthy process, as continuous soaking of the hide is needed. It is also at this point that the drum maker can decide to bleach the hide or not. After the skin is cleaned, the hide is stretched and laced onto the rim. As the hide dries the skin becomes taught and the drum is made. It is at this time that the drum maker can also tune the drum. Tuning gives a deeper sound to the drum. This can be done by sanding the hide to be thinner, which makes a more booming sound when the drum is struck.