Drum Isabelle Meawassige



Birthing the drum – smudge the drum and yourself

Dewegan is animate. Before a drum ceremony it is a drum and in inanimate. After the birthing ceremony it becomes animate.

How the Drum Came to the People:

When only native people were here, the people from the south were encroaching on anishinabie territory (hunting territory). They started taking too much. They started pushing back over territorial lands. A little war broke out – people get angry, get hurt, grieve. Our people were in trauma. An eleven year old girl went to the Council of the Elders. There must be something to stop this war. She wanted to quest for a vision from his grandfather and grandmother. They needed to get back to her. They had to choose the shortest month. They chose august, the month of two moons. They said they would bring her to the sacred mountain. The Grandparents stayed with her. They put her with the birch trees. It reflects the light of the moon. They left her with a blanket, a robe. No tent, nothing else.

When she laid under the stars. They acknowledged that the earth is our mother, and the moon is our grandmother. She was grateful. She spoke to her grandmother, the moon. She was there for days, and nothing came. There were no birds no animals. Not even an ant. She was totally alone.

During the wars, she had lost her father and one brother died. There was much trauma. This is what she was thinking about. The grief.

Four days later she was very hungry. Her grandparents came every day to check on her. She wouldn’t come down, she continued to wait for an answer. When the time of the new moon came, there was no light. Just her. Eventually, the moon got bigger.

Eventually the time came where she was shutting down. She said she was ready to die for her vision. She laid down.

The stars formed themselves into four sacred beings. They danced the moon around the sky. The young girl knew she was coming to the end. The seven sacred being threw the moon onto the girls blanket. They told her about the thirteen grandmothers that sit in the night sky every month. Grandmother moon weaves the tides and takes care of the waters., the moon taught her the moon teachings and the seven stars taught her about the seven grandfather teachings.

That night, she was given instructions that she would find a stump of cedar with the center burnt out (possibly by lightning). She was to shape it. She was to use the sand from the river banks to sand it down and shape it. She was told a deer would come and offer his life to have a face for the hoop. They told her to make a stick and how to use it, to help people who are suffering from trauma. The Drum is a powerful tool to heal with.

When the young girl finished her fast, her grandparents found her unconscious in her robe. They brought her down from the mountain. They knew something special had happened. They boiled deer bones, made a broth and fed her. When she came back to life, she told her story. Her grandparents took her back to the village to tell her story. She found a log, like in her vision, and started to shape it to oval. She fashioned her dewegan (the first dewegan). She then went to the Warrior Society and presented the dewegan. The men from the south kept coming. She decided to make a drum for the men from the south. But different. She painted a yellow line on it, one side was blue and one side was red. After she finished the drum, she told her grandparents that she needed to bring the drum to the warriors from the south. The grandparents brought the young girl on a canoe. She held her drum up, and the people let her pass by. The people from the south verify that the little girl in this story came from the North, and that she was carrying the dewegan.

Isabel brings her drum to work with autistic children. They respond to the drum very positively.

What energy you put in your dewegan in making it, is what you will get out of it. Sand it carefully with sandpaper. Don’t use electrical, all that noise will affect it. It is best to have 13 compartments on the drum (the ties that tie the deer hide to the drum). Thirteen reminds us that the Dewegan came from the sky world (13 moons). When she gave the warriors the dewegan, the men laid down their weapons of war and started to drum. It reminded them that we are keepers of the earth, connected to the powers of the universe. Everybody has a part in the drum.

The deer used to be alive and carried the gift of trust and gentleness. We need to have connection with our Dewegan.

When we work with the drum, something will shift. When we work with our drums, the spirits recognize this and they will come to see what we are doing. Isabel recalls seeing a photograph taken at a waterfall. There was a man at the waterfalls. He had an African drum. The area was surrounded by trees. In the leaves, you can see tiny spirits. Some were holding spears. It was amazing.

Use your dewegan for self healing, when you are feeling low.

Initially, some men thought the women should not be carrying a drum. There was a ruckus about women drumming. Eventually, the people agreed that the women need to be drumming.

Dan Pine from Garden River said because the drum came to man from the women, they will give the birth teachings. During the birthing ceremony, the umbilical cord is cut from the dewegan. Put the babyish with semaa into the bundle.

Isabelle and Lillian Pitawanikwat were with the same elders. The old people would come to Birch Island. They would share the sweat lodge stories, warrior stories, and one of the first stories of the birthing. In those days, the old people had a lot of power.

Before we came to the physical world, we were in the spirit world with the Council of Elders. We were given four sacred gifts before choosing to come to earth:

We chose who would be our mother
We chose who would be our father.
We chose when we would be born
We chose when we would die
We made the choices to help us advance our spirit. The chosen helpers agreed to help us with our journey.

We are living in a time of great earth changes.

The energies we expend when we are born are the same energies we expend when we die.

We are also given:

Spirit name

Spirit helpers


Challenges – our best teachers

The mothers keep the umbilical cords. The mother pins the little umbilical cord to the babies clothes (or tikinaagan). The belief is that when the cord is near, the child will not have to seek so much. The cord can also be hung on the wall. When the child reaches the age of reason, they will have their first ceremony. They will learn why this was done, and explain their connection to the earth. This will be something that guides them.

The placenta is taken and buried by the parents, in a sacred manner. Put rocks on and around it so that animals will not dig it up. Later plant a tree on that spot. Make the offering to the earth mother.

Josephine Mandamin explained that mother earth is crying for these offerings once again.

Another prophecy talks about the edge of extinction. Our grandmothers, our grandparents, are now gone to sleep and will awaken once again. When we are in ceremony, our grandparents are awakened.

After our drums are made, they start talking and speaking. We have to be aware to hear the drum. We have to listen. Sometimes we put bear grease on our drum face and sides, to keep it supple.

We feast the drum. We touch the drum with odmemin.

Put nbii around the edge of the dewegan – we give it a drink

We offer the pawagan to the dewegan, when in ceremony.

Offer semaa to dewegan. Place the semaa on dewegan for the awakening.


Have the drum holder hold their drum, place the semaa on the drum, and the person birthing the drum will sing for that drum. The drum will vibrate and the semaa will dance on the dewegan. After that, cut the cord, place the cord and semaa in the bundle tie for burial.

Our dewegan may not always stay with us. Sometimes our dewegan will let us know that they need to be with someone else.

Dewegan calls to the people. To teach us things we need to know. We don’t call to the drum. The drum calls to us.

We cannot unlearn what we have learned. The knowledge gives us responsibility.

Songs help us to heal. An energy manifests itself in our songs. The vibration that comes from our song, has an energy. It is like electricity. We cant see it, but we know it is there. Another world exists along side of us in this world. The spirit world. It exists about 18” from us. What we do impacts the spirit world, and the spirit world impacts us here. (Tree of Life).

When we birth the drum, we cut off the ubmillical cord, add semaa and create our bundle. Bury the bundle to connect dewegan to akii.

We will feast our dewegan and our bundles four times a year.

The young women have to know how to clean the water. Our very first home was water. It is the foundation of our life.

We have power in our intentions.

Isabel gave us 5 songs, one being the travelling song. The travelling song can be used when we travel, or for the spirit journey. Rites of passage.