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Great Lakes region

ca. 1825-50

hide, paint, wood

width: in diameter: 20"
depth: 3 ⅜"

Inventory # W1216



Larry Frank, Arroyo Honda, NM
Collected at Mille Lacs, Minnessota


Art of the American Indian Frontier, Penny 1992, pl. 181

The Spirit Sings, The Glenbow Museum 1987, W105, W106

Central Cree and Ojibwa Crafts, Indian and Northern Affairs (Canada) 1974, #11, #13

For another geometric example, reportedy used in "the moccasin game", see the American Museum of Natural History (#50©4684)

Among the Anishinaabe Nations of the Great Lakes region, drums are not only musical instruments, also considered animate beings that carry the collective prayers of the people. Drums demand to be treated with great respect, and being designated the keeper of a drum is an honourable and important role. Many different forms of drums exist, depending on the particular circumstances of their use. Some are only played during gatherings of designated drum societies while others are hand-carried by an individual. The outstanding example illustrated above is likely a handheld drum cared for by a highly respected keeper. A diagonal red stripe divides its surface in two halves. One side is painted with red, black and ochre dots arranged in neat rows perpendicular to the dividing line. Due to its considerable age, the black design on the opposing side is heavily faded and not clearly discernible. Elaborate drum designs such as this were sometimes revealed to individuals in dreams or visions. Due to their spiritual importance, such drums, together with their associated songs and dances, were likely passed down through many generations.