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The most important Native American instrument was and still is the drum, as you can tell by going to any powwow or Indian event. Different tribes have
different traditions about the drum and how to play it, but the basic construction is very similar in most tribes: a wooden frame or a carved and
hollowed-out log, with finely tanned buckskin or elkskin stretched taut across the opening by sinew thongs.
Traditionally American Indian drums are large, two to three feet in diameter, and they are played communally by groups of men who stand around them in a circle. However, there were also some tribes in which each drummer had his own instrument, and it is possible to buy a smaller Native American hand drum for either musical or decorative purposes. (These hand drums are the ones that are sometimes called "tomtoms" by non-native people--contrary to popular belief, tomtom is not an American Indian word, but rather an old British word for a child's drum toy.)
If you are looking to buy a drum that was actually made by Native Americans--either because it's important to you to have the real thing or because you want to support native people with your purchase--then here is our directory of American Indian artists whose drums are available online. If you have a website of Indian drums to add to this list, let us know. We gladly advertise any individual native artist or native-owned art store here free of charge, provided that all drums were made by tribally recognized American Indian, Inuit, or First Nations artists.
Thank you for your interest in Native American art!
Ancient Ways Indian Drums|
American Indian drums and drumsticks handmade on the Wind River Reservation by Arapaho and Shoshone artists..
Northwest Indian Drums|
Hide drums painted with Northwest Coast designs from a native-owned store in British Columbia.
Alaska Native Indian Drums|
Another good selection of native hand drums painted with Northwest Coast Indian designs.
Tohlakai Native Drums|
Traditional hand and pow-wow drums by a Navajo Indian drum-maker.
Tarahumara Indian Drums|
Goatskin 'aro' drums made by the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico.
Iroquois Water Drum|
American Indian water drums made by a Cayuga artist.
|Tribute to the Elders||Dance Hard||Honor The Earth Powwow||Kids' Pow-Wow Songs|
|Probably the best album by popular Blackfoot Indian drum group Black Lodge Singers.||One of the best albums by the Cree powwow drum group Northern Cree Singers.||Very good live recording from a 1990 pow wow featuring Ojibway and Winnebago Indian drum groups.||This one's a little weird, but it's strangely catchy: popular children's songs like "Mighty Mouse" and "Twinkle Twinkle" performed at full speed by the excellent Black Lodge Singers. A good introduction to native drumming for kids.|
How to Make Drums, Tom-Toms and Rattles|
Interesting 1938 book on native drum crafts, particularly Woodland Indian drums.
A lovely illustrated book on American Indian powwow and drumming traditions.
Dancing Drum: A Cherokee Legend|
Attractive children's book about a young Cherokee drummer boy.
About us: This website belongs to Native Languages of the Americas, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting endangered Native American languages. We do not make Indian drums ourselves, so if you are interested in buying some, please contact the artists directly. Though we have featured only Native American drums identified with the name and tribal affiliation of each artist, we haven't called the tribal offices to check up on any of them, and we only know a few of them personally. We also don't guarantee any of their products. This is not an exhaustive list of Native American drums--if you would like us to add your drum site to this page, please contact us with your URL and tribal affiliation. We advertise any individual native artist or native-owned art business here free of charge. We do not link to drums which are not made by tribally recognized American Indian, Inuit, or First Nations artists, so please do not ask us to. And finally, websites do occasionally expire and change hands, so use your common sense and this general rule of thumb: if the creator of each individual artwork is not identified by name and specific tribe, you are probably not looking at a genuine Native American drum.
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