Intertribal Drum Group Informational Session

Intertribal Drum Group Informational Session

After a two-year break, the Native American Program (NAP) is reviving the campus’s intertribal drum group. Sarah M. Palacios, Director of the NAP, Nicholas J. Reo, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Native American Studies, and Brooke Hadley, Interim Program Coordinator, led an informational session meant to lay out a clean slate and a sturdy framework for the group going forward. They’re still welcoming prospective members, so here are some key points from the meeting:


Responsibilities and Expectations

Drum group members should be aware that they’re taking on a great responsibility when they commit to it. Professor Reo explained that each singer should take care of themselves (especially spiritually), take care of the drum, make the time to learn and practice the songs, and be available for the community. In particular, each singer should commit to sobriety—alcohol and other mind-impairing substances should not enter their system for at least four days before singing, as the spirit of the drum “quiets down” in the presence of a singer under the influence, meaning it won’t benefit the community the way it should.


Potential drum group members should seriously consider participating in a two-day hand drum workshop on November 6th and 7th. Around 10 to 12 spaces will be available for those interested. This will be a good time to gauge members’ ability to make time for the group. It’s also a significant opportunity to learn from two Chippewa singers with experience singing in intertribal drum groups. The workshop will have an important role in rekindling the drum group in general.


Working Together as an Intertribal Community

Director Palacios added that being a part of the drum group also means accepting that it’s an intertribal group—members may come from different tribes with their own distinct teachings. The group can’t commit to just one way of doing things, as this risks alienating other people in the community, or even promoting the idea that there is a single “right” way to be indigenous, when in fact tribes around the globe make up a massive spectrum of cultural teachings and practices.


The Role of the NAP

The NAP will be taking on an active role in the drum group by ensuring that the drum is always in a positive, safe environment. Part of this may include resolving disagreements that may arise from conflicting tribal teachings regarding the drum.


Program Director Sarah Palacios and Professor Nicholas Reo are very open to further questions. They can be reached via email or appointment.