Tradition meets trend in drumming circle

From left, in the background, Jacqueline Carriere and Jessie Carriere help lead the drumming circle at the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre Jan. 12. Photo by Sarah Ladik NNSL

From left, in the background, Jacqueline Carriere and Jessie Carriere help lead the drumming circle at the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre Jan. 12.
Photo by Sarah Ladik
NNSL

Technology mixed with tradition at a drumming circle hosted by the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre Jan. 12, as leaders told the stories of the songs they brought to the group, interspersed with comments about Facebook, YouTube, and texting.

Every song has to be introduced and credit given where credit is due to the author, as well as the teacher where possible. While many were passed from person to person, several songs sung at Sunday’s circle were garnered from social media.

“It’s all a part of bridging the gap with the youth,” said Malorie Rehm, who travelled from Fort Smith with a group of young drummers to attend the circle. “It’s about not staying stuck in the tradition, but letting it evolve and grow as we do. We still honour the traditions, but technology is a way to share them in our modern world.”

Included in the music was a song of the American Indian Movement, an activist group founded in the Southern United States in 1968, and afterwards, leader Jessie Carriere spoke of the connection between all Aboriginal peoples in North America.

“So much of what they were fighting for, the protection of lands and water, we are fighting for here in the North now. We honour the warriors past and present.”

More than 15 people participated in the circle, about half from Fort Smith. The hosts, Grand-daughters of the Drum, plan to hold drumming circles the second Sunday of every month at the Friendship Centre in an effort to share their culture and their impressive skills.

“We usually drum together as a family or when people ask us to do events,” said Carriere. “People often ask us to teach them, and so we wanted to offer a venue in which people could come and learn.”

Carriere said one of the things she enjoys most about the circle is the opportunity to share and pass on the culture and the teachings.

“Anyone can come,” she said. “Any age, any level of knowledge, any culture – everyone is welcome.”

Indeed, many of the inaugural group were young people from both here and Fort Smith, and were joined by people from many different backgrounds.

“We’re building bridges,” said Carriere. “Our strength is in the different communities within Hay River and we want to bring people together.”

At the beginning of the session, Janine Hoff led the group through the Eagle Song, first explaining that each part of the eagle represents a part of our society; the wings represented the feminine and the masculine influences in the family, the body the ability to care for babies, the tail the representation of youth acting as a rudder and influencing direction, and the head representing the elders, leading the way.

“It’s only if all parts of the family, of the community, work together that we can move forward in health and harmony,” she said.

-Sarah Ladik