Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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‘noahl “drum”
Language: Tsimshian

You could still play this drum; it’s tight and in good shape…You know it’s very dry in Anchorage. When my dance group performs there, the drums sound different than in Metlakatla. They tighten up and make a higher sound, like ‘dink, dink, dink’ instead of a deep ‘boom, boom.

—David Boxley, 2009

Shamans played skin drums during healing rituals, while performers at potlatches and secret society ceremonies more often used wooden box drums. This instrument is a bent wooden hoop covered by thin deer hide, with crossed rawhide holding-straps in back. The drum stick depicts a killer whale in human form, a tall dorsal fin projecting from its head.

Culture: Tsimshian
Region: British Columbia, Canada
Village: Port Simpson
Object Category: Ceremony
Dimensions: Length 63cm
Accession Date: 1876
Source: James G. Swan (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E020611