The White Buffalo Woman Council Drum is a healing drum group. As women drummers, we have responsibility we accept. We must be strong and believe in what we do, and to never disrespect other people’s teachings. We are honored by the opportunity to gather together in an intertribal Drum. We recognize that each Nation is unique and Indigenous Peoples are diverse in language, geography and cultural customs. Our teachings are strong, sacred and from Nation to Nation different, and lead to the same Creator.
We Drum for others who may need it. The drum has power: The Drum symbolizes the heart of Mother Earth and the heart of the people, connects us to Mother Earth and all beings, lifts the prayers and spirits of the people drumming and in attendance, heals, and brings happiness for the heavy heart and mind.
White Buffalo Woman Council Drum
Permissions given by mentors: Kerby Ann Gleeson (Hunkpapa Lakota), and Neena McNair, Neena McNair Family Drummers
The Big Drum Protocols document was prepared by the Members of the White Buffalo Woman Council (WBWC) Drum, with ongoing cultural guidance provided by Neena McNair.
We are a women’s healing drum and as women drummers, we have responsibility we accept, and we must be strong and believe in what we do, and to never disrespect other people’s teachings. We are honored by the opportunity to gather together in an intertribal Drum. We recognize that each Nation is unique and Indigenous Peoples are diverse in language, geography and cultural customs.
- NEVER leave the drum alone.
- Women’s hair must be down while drumming.
- Feet on the ground-no crossed legs.
- Pass things clockwise.
- Do not walk between drummers and the drum.
- No food or drinks at the Drum, except water.
- No cell phones/technology at the drum except when recording (with permission).
- No alcohol or drugs are allowed near the drum. Drummers under the influence of alcohol or drugs are never allowed on the Drum. It is customary to refrain from profanity during all aspects of ceremony.
- Dress respectfully. Long skirts/dresses/wraps or shawls (past the knee) and shirts that fully cover the shoulders are customary.
- Tobacco should always be offered to the drum before starting a drum session. Each person at the drum places tobacco, and prayers, on the drum before starting. Thank and honor the drum and each other (I see you and honor you).
- Sage – each person cleanses with sage.
- Offer prayers. Prayers (intentions-i.e. healing for certain people) are said each time the drum is used. Drum for others who may need it.
- Prayers should be said thanking the Creator, Mother Earth and all beings – people, winged, four-legged, swimmers, crawlers, plants, etc. Prayers are offered to the Creator/Source for the ability to sing in a good way.
- Prayers are offered to the Ancestors
- Prayers are offered to thank the animal and tree that gave its life to become the hide for the drum.
- Check-ins-go around the circle and each woman checks-in. Women can silently offer their thoughts and say “All My Relations, to pass.”
- Women can sit at the drum excepting for their “moon time.” The Elders and Grandmothers remind us that a woman on her moon-time is most powerful. It is believed that women sacrifice and give to the people during their moon-time. It is a time of purification. Women on their moon-time are kindly and humbly asked not to touch the Drum, ceremonial items or sacred medicines. The drum keeper sages women on their moon-time, and women are cared for. We will acknowledge her ceremony, offer a chair, blanket, tea and comfort.
- The drum needs to be “fed” once per year i.e. honored with water and a food (medicine plants) offering.
- Request permission from the drummers to record or take photographs.
- If you hear a song you can learn it, but must ask permission to sing it publicly. Learn the meaning of songs before playing or singing them.
- Always respect other people’s teachings. Our teachings are strong, sacred and from Nation to Nation different, and lead to the same Creator/Source.
- The drum has power: The Drum symbolizes the heart of Mother Earth and the heart of the people, connects us to Mother Earth and all beings, lifts the prayers and spirits of the people drumming and in attendance, heals, and brings happiness for the heavy heart and mind.
- It is appropriate to offer tobacco and other gifts (rice, sage, sweet grass, cedar) to a drum. The drum is nourishment of the spirit, feeding of the people, etc.
Women, a long time ago, gave the big drum to men so they could feel the resonant connection to the Earth Mother that women, naturally feel. Men were to respect women, and women’s leadership role in the community; they were never to raise their voices or hands against women or children, they were to protect the “giver of life.” This has not come to pass, and it is said, “when the maple trees start dying from the top, women will take back the drum.” This is starting to happen. Men have not fulfilled their promises, and women must now re-assert themselves to save themselves, their children, humankind and Mother Earth. Women’s voices must be heard if we have any chance of survival. Haudenosaunne Prophecy
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The Mission of Women Drummers International is to empower women and girls in all aspects of their lives through the message of the drum, which represents not only a musical experience, but a cultural and healing experience as well. Women Drummers International is committed to creating a positive and empowering environment for women to teach, learn, and perform this incredible art form.