adidas bucket hats Drumming sisters help kids celebrate Honoring Our Youth Pow Wow at Big Sky High School
An estimated 200 people attended the afternoon dances at the event, a tradition of Missoula County Public Schools, and more were expected later in the evening. The brightly colored dresses and elaborate headdresses with feathers are a feast for the eyes at a powwow, but the drums are the heartbeat that keep the dancers stepping, strutting and twirling.
Pierre herself began drumming after her grandmother died two years ago. Her grandma loved the drum, and the family drums together every week. So Pierre started attending the practices, and soon she was taking the lead.
Her family’s drum is named Bear Spirit, and the skin is made of an elk hide. One of Pierre’s favorite pieces is an emotional and touching honor song by her brother Willie Pierre, and Saturday the family performed her brother Jerome’s grass dance.
“We just love to sing, so we like to travel to even the littlest powwow,” Pierre said.
She and her brother, Jerome, stood in the concessions line between songs, and unlike the dancers in traditional garb, the drummers wore baseball caps and Adidas jerseys. For them, the tradition comes from the inside. Drumming and singing at a powwow is fun for the Pierres, not competitive, and every time they attend one, they honor their way of life.
“It’s our tradition. We get to do what we love to do,” said Jerome Pierre, 20.
Saturday, Jerome Lumpry, who is Salish and Pend d’Oreille, drummed with a group of men, including one who held a mallet in one hand and a toddler in the other. Lumpry said in the olden days, only men sat at the drum, and women sang behind them, but these days more women are joining the drum, at least in some tribes.
“There’s some tribes that are still really old fashioned, and they wouldn’t let females anywhere near a drum,” said Lumpry, of St. Ignatius.
The friends and family he drummed with at Big Sky have been singing together since they all could walk, he said. When everyone harmonizes really well together, he said it creates a good feeling inside.