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People say you can't have a Powwow without a drum, for it carries the heartbeat of the Indian nation. It is also felt to carry the heartbeat of Mother Earth, and thus calls the spirits and nations together.

The Powwow drum is a large base covered with hide (buffalo, deer, or cow). Forming a circle, eight or more men strike the drum in unison with covered mallets. The men then blend their voices with the beating of the Drum to create the song. The songs are often in the Indian language of the drum members. It is the responsibility of the drum members and especially the lead singer to be able to sing and play whatever kind of song is requested by the master of ceremonies or the arena director for any given event (i.e. flag raising, honoring ceremony, different kinds of dances).

It is said that the drum was brought to the Indian people by a woman, and therefore there is a woman spirit that resides inside the drum. Approriately, it is to be treated with respect and care, and strict behavior is expected of anyone coming in contact with the drum. The drum is often thought to help bring the physical and mental side of a person back in touch with his or her spiritual or heart side. As with many things in the Indian culture, the drum is used to bring balance and rejuvenation to a person through their participation in dancing, singing or listening to the heartbeat.