Drums represent life, Osage artists say


Drums at the Voices from the Drum Exhibit at the First Americans Museum. (Gaylord News photo/Jay Toyebo)

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Voices from the Drum exhibit at First Americans Museum  is designed to teach about community and spirituality in the Osage Nation.

It might look like a typical art exhibition, but to some Native Americans it means much more than using the drum as a canvas.

“Looking at that drum with a certain degree of respect. I had to really begin to kind of start, to kind of think through, you know, what I was wanting to paint,” said Norman Akers, an Osage artist.

The exhibit encapsulates what the drum means to the tribe, Akers said.

“As I was thinking about this notion of how the drum brings us together as Osage people. And you know we gather in the summer. Then we dance at Gray Horse, we move to Hominy then we move to Pawhuska,” Akers said.

For the Osage Nation, the drum  unites people and invites spirituality.

“The drum is a humongous expression…it’s an instrument to praise God. it’s an instrument to worship God,” said Rock Pipestem, an Osage drum maker.

The drum is a reflection of the beliefs of the artists and drum maker and a reflection of the natural world, Pipestem said.

“It  reflects the eagles, all the elks, all the animals of the Earth. It reflects all of that. And it brings in God’s spirit,” Pipestem said.

To members of the Osage Nation, the drum is not just an instrument, it is not just the basis of an art exhibition. But, rather, it is life, Pipestem said.


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