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Charles Garrett

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Patwin  

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Pe’xe  

J. Richard Haefer

Vessel rattle of the Omaha people of the central plains of the USA. It is a large gourd filled with coarse or fine stones as needed for the correct timbre. It is played in both tremolo and rhythmic striking styles, in the wa-wan ceremony. The mónze péxe (‘metal gourd rattle’) was made from a tin baking-soda can issued as a ration in the late 19th century, or nowadays from a large salt shaker with a wooden or fibreglass handle covered with leather and beadwork. It is used in the ...

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Article

David P. McAllester

revised by J. Richard Haefer

Water drum used in meetings of the Native American (or Peyote) Church. The standard drum consists of a well-soaked buckskin head stretched over an iron kettle about 25 cm deep. The best skins are said to be ‘brain tanned’. The head symbolizes the former war shield, now a spiritual shield. It is attached by an intricate tying method that has symbolic import. Symbolism and rules may vary from fireplace to fireplace with some ideas common throughout the religion. Seven stones or marbles indicating the seven days, the seven sisters (constellations), the seven senses (orifices) of the face, or, for the Sioux, the seven council fires, are tied to the head. The rope tying the head represents the rope used to tie enemies, the reins of war horses, or blood veins. The kettle is half-filled with water, which represents rain or the water of the earth; the sound of the drum represents thunder. Live coals (four to 12 depending on the fireplace) symbolizing lightning are put in the water before the head is attached. The skin is kept moist during meetings by vigorously shaking the kettle between songs or by a quick shake during a song when the sound begins to change. At some fireplaces the drummer will suck or blow on the edge of the drum to force water onto the head, while at others this is prohibited....

Article

Charles Garrett

Article

David P. McAllester

revised by J. Richard Haefer

Small vessel rattle used by singers during ceremonies of the Native American (or Peyote) Church. It is a gourd about 8 to 9 cm in diameter containing pebbles, pierced by a straight wooden handle about 25 to 30 cm long that passes through the gourd and projects slightly. A circular stopper on the handle prevents the stones from falling out. A tuft of dyed horsehair, representing the peyote cactus blossom, is tied to the projecting end. The handle, which may be carved or beaded at the base, symbolizes the arrow or the riding crop used in war but now used in peace. The beadwork may show various symbolic designs: rainbow for beauty of life, red–white–blue for war veterans, fire, or water. 12 tassels cut from a bow string (so it can never be used on a bow again) decorate the end of the handle to symbolize the months or yearly cycle. The user shakes the rattle with one hand and holds the peyote staff (symbolic of the broken bow) in his other hand. The stopper can be of wood or even a coin; it does not touch the edge of the gourd. Friction of the end of the handle projecting at the top (symbolic of the arrow head) holds the handle to the gourd. The rattle pebbles may have individual significance such as turquoise for an Apache, salt, ant, or ocean pebbles, and so on. The outer surface of the rattle may be decorated in patterns related to the peyote ceremony or patterns important to the owner such as stars, moon, fire, eagle; older rattles often had patterns scratched into the surface....

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Generic term for Anglo instruments used by the Tohono O’odham (Papago) Indians of Southern Arizona and Northern Sonora, Mexico. Piastakuḍ (‘fiesta thing’) refers to those instruments used to perform waila (social dance music; from the Spanish bailar, called ‘chicken scratch’ by Anglos) and pascola dance tunes. They include the gi:dal (guitar), kuikud (flute, saxophone, trumpet, or clarinet), wi:olin (violin), a:lpa (harp), wañamdam (accordian), and tamblo (drum). In the mid-19th century the O’odham began to borrow polka, schottische, and two-step tunes played by guitar, saxophone, accordion, and drums from nearby Anglo communities and incorporate them within their all-night keihina social dance, imparting to them the O’odham concepts of traditional ñe’i (song), that is, assigning specific songs to certain portions of the dance cycle: sundown songs, midnight songs, sunrise songs. O’odham distinctly consider these songs and instruments as their own and not as Anglo music. In like manner, pascola, with harp and violin, was borrowed from their neighbouring Yaqui Indians....

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Pikuni  

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Group of Native American tribes that share certain cultural traits. They live between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, including parts of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas, as well as eastern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, and southwestern Manitoba.

See...

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Article

Mary Riemer-Weller

revised by J. Richard Haefer

[pò’owìyè, poewiye]

Vessel rattle of the Tewa Indians of New Mexico. It is made by scraping the outside of a po (gourd) clean, removing the fibrous material from inside the gourd by shaking large pebbles in it (a job often done by children), boring a hole with an awl at both ends, inserting small pebbles from an anthill as rattle elements, and carving a cottonwood handle that extends through the two holes. The handle is fastened by a rawhide strap passing through a slit in its protruding upper end. A rawhide loop attached to the bottom of the handle serves for hanging the rattle when not in use. Shot pellets or corn kernels can be substituted as rattle elements. The rattle is used in the pogonshare (Corn Maiden or gourd dance) ceremony.

A. Garcia: ‘The Construction of Dance Instruments’, Music and Dance of the Twea Pueblos, ed. G.P. Kurath and A. Garcia...

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Article

Susan M. Taffe Reed and Glen Jacobs

Generic term for an ‘object that is blown into’, used by the Munsee Indians of the Eastern Woodlands in North America; their relatives the Unami use the word ahpikòn. Known historically as the Lenape or Delaware Indians, the Unami and Munsee have bone flutes (waxkanii-pootaatiikanushal), reed flutes (kweenaskwii-pootaatiikanushal), and wooden flutes (xwusii-pootaatiikanushal), all of which are personal instruments.

The waxkanii-pootaatiikanushal is made of bird bones, though other animal bones can be used. It is a small, very high-pitched whistle without fingerholes. Sometimes called a war dance whistle, it is worn on a necklace by a man who blows into it while dancing. Larger types might have fingerholes. Little is known about the historical kweenaskwii-pootaatiikanushal though it was probably similar in construction.

The xwusii-pootaatiikanushal is a double-chambered duct flute made from eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), a lightweight, fragrant, pinkish to brownish-red softwood that has sacred associations in Delaware cultures. Before harvesting the wood, the maker offers tobacco to the tree. A piece of cedar approximately 5 cm in diameter and 45 to 60 cm long, roughly measured from the player’s elbow to his fingertips, is selected and the bark is removed and the wood split in half. Hickory or other hardwood coals are placed on the inner side of the split pieces and blown on to begin hollowing each half. Mud is smeared on the edges of the wood to protect it from being burnt. The charred wood is scraped away and this process is repeated until both halves are sufficiently concave to make a wide, open chamber. The two halves are glued together by a mixture of resinous pine tree sap with bear grease, traditionally heated in a mussel shell. Leather strips are tied at intervals around the assembled body to reinforce it and serve as decoration....

Article

Mary Riemer-Weller

revised by Susan M. Taffe Reed and Glen Jacobs

[pokhanii’kan]

Generic term for drums of the Munsee Indians of the Eastern Woodlands in North America; their relatives the Unami use the word puhënikàn. Their drums include the deerskin drum, water drum, hand drum, and powwow drum, all of which are played by one or more drummers each using one beater.

The deerskin drum, also called the skin drum or hide drum, is an idiophone made by folding a deer hide into a bundle; it appears in several forms. The atoh-xayii-powuniikan (Munsee: ‘deer skin drum’) is made from a single skin of the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), preferably a buck. The animal is skinned and its hide fleshed, a process of removing most of the muscle and fat. At this point the hide can be salted, dried, and stored until needed. To make the drum, the hide is soaked for several days in an alkaline solution, such as hardwood ash mixed with water, which opens the pores and helps break down the hair follicles. Next, the hide is laid over a fleshing beam and a scraper is used to remove all remaining muscle, fat, and membrane. Then the hide is turned over and scraped to remove the hair and several layers of epidermis, a process called graining. Finally, the hide is cleaned by soaking overnight in fast-moving water. The rawhide is then folded and bound into a packet approximately 43 cm square....

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Pumín  

Mary Riemer-Weller

revised by J. Richard Haefer

Generic term for drum of the Flathead Indians of Montana, USA. The kwtunt pumín is the large war drum or ‘big drum’ nowadays used to accompany powwow. Traditionally it is a double-headed drum made from a hollowed log and covered with bison or deer hides laced together from top to bottom; a modern substitute is a marching band bass drum with Mylar heads. It is played with a padded stick (spełce) about 48 cm long, now often a fibreglass rod.

More common is the łppumin or chelshpumin (chelsh: ‘hand’; łppumin: ‘drum’), a single-headed frame drum. Traditionally the frame was made from thin strips of wood, preferably fir, soaked and bent into a circle, or from part of a hollowed tree stump, but it can be made from a circular cheese crate or a metal wheel rim. The frame varies from 30 to 40 cm in diameter and 5 to 10 cm in depth. The ...