Reviving the Dene Drum

Ricky Gargan speaks with youth about the poplar wood harvested for the drum frames. (Photo submitted by Frank Hope)

Jonas Landry, Ricky Gargan, and Frank Hope are helping pass on the teachings of making a Dene Drum with youth in Fort Simpson this week.

They’re working with students from across the Dehcho at the Thomas Simpson School shop.

“It feels good to be working with raw wood, just watching it take shape in front of you. It’s a really good feeling to be making something from scratch,” said Hope.

They are working with poplar wood from near Fort Providence and caribou hides from Colville Lake, which they will be preparing to put on their frames today.

Hope says it’s been a good lesson in patience and time for the students.

“Some of them are already starting on their second frame. The purpose is also for them to walk away with a drum,” added Hope.

He says the workshop has been an act of reconciliation and part of a healing process, as they make their drums near the former sight of Lapointe Hall.

The community will come together Thursday for a feast and drum dance to celebrate the young men who’ve picked up this traditional skill, and become drum holders.

Ricky Gargan with a piece of poplar for a drum frame. (Photo from Frank Hope)

About the Author

Josh Campbell
Josh Campbell has returned to the CKLB News Team. He covered female university soccer and volleyball in New Brunswick, prior to graduating from Loyalist College in Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ontario in 2007. He's covered politics and Indigenous stories in both the NWT and Yukon over the last 10 years.

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