Drumming. Reconciliation. by Peter Morin


the following words. a written treatise concerning several of the drumming interventions that took place through the residency. considering reconciliation. considering drumming. considering action.

Drumming. Reconciliation.

i am drumming reconciliation daily

walking drumming

eating drumming

sleeping drumming

dreaming drumming

drumming drumming

i am drumming what i think reconciliation is. i am drumming this reconciliation because Canada asked me to.

Its no such thing as Art. It’s spirit.

(Greg Sarris. Weaving the Dream.1994)

We will begin to see each other as we dare to begin to see ourselves; we will begin to see ourselves as we begin to see other, without aggrandizement or dismissal or recriminations, but with patience and understanding for when we do not quite make it, and recognition and appreciation for when we do.

(Audre Lourde. Eye to Eye. 1983)

drumming is the vehicle. the drum is a wheel. it is actually two wheels. the wheel of life. a connection to the earth. a wheel of flesh. a connection to the earth. the hoop is made of earth medicine. the tree. carrying medicine. the second wheel. a circle. indians can’t be direct. it destroys the balance. boldness destroys the balance. this drum carries all of us. hearts. hearts through this fire. the drum carries us through this Nation to Nation fire. this Canadian land is constantly burning. burning riches. burning tar sands. burning water. even the history of this burning is burning. these ashes bleed through our bodies. residential school are ashes. bodies and ashes. this also bleed through my hands. your hands. drum makers hands are bleeding. the drum is bleeding while I play it. the drum is bleeding.

i’ve decided i will talk to the earth

i hold the drum to aid my telephone call

i need to talk to the land

i need to ask the land, Will you host me? Can i be here?

i can’t ask this question for you

you have to ask the question for yourself

you have to hold the drum and ask


you should be scared of the answer

It was in 1889, during a total eclipse of the sun and while he was lying sick with a fever, that Wovoka had his first vision of heaven and was instructed by God how he must lead the people. He was given his message; he was told how the Dance must be performed and he was also given, ‘five songs for naming rain, the first of which brings on a mist or cloud, the second a snowfall, the third a shower, and the fourth a hard rain or storm, while when he sings the fifth song the weather again becomes clear

(Julia Blackburn. The White Men. 1979)

the drum creates resonance. this resonance is original dialogical model. people are an entity in relation to this resonance. the body is a resonance chamber. a planned resonance. a planned epistemological act. knowledge production creating the moment. ancestors. resonance is. transformation is. both drum and body affect the resonance. wake up. thinking about drum making. go to yoga and think about drumming. hot room. skin feels stretched like drum skin. like muscles pulling. push. push. push. change. this requires dreaming. dreaming about the end of yoga. this requires sleep. yoga daily. also requires sleep. drum making requires sleep. one drum can change the world. one drum can rule the world. in this conceptualization of the drumming act. i am dreaming of the act. we are drumming up a connection to the universe. plugged in. plugging in HDMI cable. the act is making a telephone. cell phone. i phone. as in i phone ancestors on this device. a direct line into the fourth dimension. the place where the ancestors roam. watching. waiting. helping. guiding. manifesting. they are watching as i write this. ancestors are wondering why we don’t call more. ancestors. grandmothers. grandfathers. wandering. wondering. roaming charges. no roaming charges.

Foucault states that it is not that language wants to conceal anything; language simply exists as that hidden duplicate of the visible. He maintains that this is the function that language has from the moment it begins to flow among concrete objects and it is the reason why things are perceptible only through language.

(Gordana Fontana-Giusti. Foucault for Architects. 2013)

the act. a meeting of materials. a meeting of materials that will never actually meet in the world. skin. flesh. wood. metal. sinew. artificial sinew. scissors. awl. drill. hands. hands move the materials. spirit. hands are actors. shifting stage directors. cutting. bitting. manipulating. hands are classic Elizabethan. hands are romeo. hands are juliet. the hands are moved by ancestors. through the space. ancestors are the real drum makers. i am nothing in this process. i am a just fido. or rogers. or telus. the drum making is alchemy. iron oxide transforms into spirit. wealth is the vibration that ripples throughout the room. songs are sung in the making of these new drums. cyndi lauper. pearl jam. inxs. resonance rip through hearts. i make prayers. i don’t want to do this wrong. the land song needs its vehicle. knowledge needs its vehicle. i need my vehicle to drive to salmon arm. to enderby. to chase. to chase. to pritchard gas station. to kelowna. to kamloops. to vancouver. at times it feels like my car is rolling on four drums. in the dream, the drums are made with animals. more than one animal. at least two. three is better. four is indigenous and therefore traditional.

In a video portion of her presentation called “Vigil” (plate 13), Belmore is shown on these same streets, calling out the names of these women as she reads them from lettering on her own body. she then strips a rose of its thorns using her clenched teeth in honor of each one. the projection screen itself is punctured by light bulbs that create the illusion of a second spatial field, floating just beyond or just in front of Belmore’s performance, alternatively supporting and destroying the specificity of her location.

(judith Ostrowitz. Interventions: Native American Art for Far-Flung Territories. 2009)

Drumming Reconciliation #1

algoma university. collaboration with bo yeung. we decided to dance adopted burden. immigrants burden. indigenous burden. this is the adopted burden. residential schools. David Garneau names adopted burden. no body asked for residential schools. nobody. no body. yet. Burden implies carrying. weight implies knowledge. nah. we all normalize pain. to get through. algoma. university. transforms itself into a unversity. starts as a shingwaak residential school. but we, who carry this burden, can still tell. there is no hiding. we can still see the residential school. even if we don’t talk the tour.

drum is made. in printmaking studio. printmaking studio is in the basement. first drum. two animals. to deer skins are sewn together. into a new drum with two voices. two singing voices. more resonance. a concert. another resonance. body. body. body. body. resonance. we make the drum in the printing making studio sink. fitting since i am a print maker trickster fool. drum skins soak. we interrupt the class in session. i don’t care. drum is soaking. waiting. immigrant and indigenous and adopted burden collaborate to create concert. no hiding from difficult history. no hiding because we wear difficult history on our backs. indian kids. attend residential school. carrying adopted burden. immigrant kids carrying adopted burden because Canada lies. drum making takes two hours. and three hours of deep astral travelling sleep following. the drum will be ready for collaborative performance which will take place in two days.

*while attending the Truth and Reconcilation gathering in Montreal (one year later), i hear elder speak about shingwaak residential school. her grandfather attended. she is telling his story. he is a child. he is hung from his arms. and whipped. in the basement of shinqwaak residential school. This is where we make this drum.

performance. returns adopted burden back to the residential school. pulpit. tobacco is put on the ground. this act defines a space. tobacco. sacred. drying out grieve. we put you on the ground. bo moves to the pulpit. tapping out a rhyme. a rhythm. i begin to plough the field with my face. i am pushing my face into the fields. because i feel like this is what the kids did. in order to understand the adopted burden, don’t we have to understand what happened?

ploughing. tapping. crying. meeting by the pulpit. wrapping. unwrapping. i unwrap bo’s face. i wrap my face with silk. i scream out the international rights of the child. bo unwraps my head. suddenly there is no more space to scream. pick up the drum. the drum rests on the pulpit. we cleave space. the drum. bo. me. we play the drum. this time. the drum is in resonance with my body and the body of the residential school. drumming and singing a indigenous version of ‘whats love got to do with it’ (tina turner).

to finish. viewers and singers form a straight line. this line facing the residential school. then we use martial arts to shake the foundation of the school.

Drumming Reconciliation #2

more drums. hot weather. every day is a sweat lodge outside. hot. hot. heat. reconciliation residency. TRU. more drums. two more drums. the picking up the pieces drums. a name i dreamed at algoma university. picking up the pieces. whats love go to do with is? nothing. absolutely nothing. i will say it again. nothing. absolutely nothing.

one drum. made. we pick up the pieces after the residential school. after death, we pick up the pieces. we pick up the pieces. after the trauma, we pick up the pieces. after legislation, we pick up the pieces. after genocide, we pick up the pieces. after we learn about the fucking science experiences perpetrated on our children, we pick up the fucking pieces. and we continue to make music.

drums continue to sing. knowledge continues. more resonance. two more drums are made. drums sit in studio and react to the environment. stitches are left taunt. eventually. my stitches pull apart and leave an open wound.

Drumming Reconciliation #3

chris bose writes to me and says. Carol moiseiwitsch is in town. Carel Moiseiwitsch writes to me and says, she is in town. lytton. i decide to drive to lytton. three hours from the sweatlodge that is outside. three hours directly into the sun. bose says. there is drumming in the stein valley. i don’t know where this is. but i am going.

i bring these picking up the pieces drums. i want to see carel. she is one of my most important teachers. she taught me how to draw. drum. drumming resonance. today i think drawing is drumming. carel is british. anarchist. marxist. no gods. no rulers. no artschools. no post-modernism. just land. i bring the drums. i find carel. i remember my ziggy cat who was taken by the creator. i am grateful for the memory.

visits. visits. visits. espresso. visits. lunch. gordon. quinoa and barley bread with fresh greens. heaven. books. carel gives me books. bose shows up like a ghost wearing my hat. and then disappears like a ghost. meet you at the stein valley. where? at the stein valley. okay. poof. car. drums. hot. stories about travel. pigeons in a coop. crazy pigeon lady wearing vintage vivienne westwood. remove apricots from the car. carel is lovely. her partner gordon is lovely. i feel pretty good because i recognize the vintage vivienne westwood hat. carel says, you are an artist. you recognize vivienne westwood.

the ferry is lovely and takes a second. the river is fast. driving. first location. in the middle of a magic forest we find a path. towards the glorious roar of a river. down. walking down. walking towards the sound. we are the only ones there. i am in heaven. i am carrying the picking up the pieces drums. no one is there. this is not the right location. the river is the right location. the river flows downward. through the valley.

drive to a second location. chat. laugh. i’m sitting by the picking up the pieces drums. reserve. rez dogs. run over rez dog. drive towards the mouth of the river. a second bridge. a second set of instructions. a sectioned trip. walk up that hill and down that hill towards the mouth of the river. i am carrying the picking up the pieces drums. i AM the picking up the pieces drums. carel is a good teacher. we walk on the land. this new land. we three are guests on this land. walking towards something. new friends walk with us. but then we leave them. walk towards the water. on the hill. cactus. and the smell of sage cooking in the sun. carel. we are going to be our own drumming circle.

sitting by the river. are you ready? yes. okay. take this drum. do you want this drum stick? or do you want this red one? i want the red one. stand facing each other. drum. drum. drumming reconcilliation. guests on the land of the Nlaka’pamux. drumming hello. land. it is an act. teacher. student. teacher of how to draw with charcoal. student. drum maker. standing together. this is the heart beat we can share. guests on this land. the red hills. the river stones are bleached like bones. I feel safe sharing this heart beat with carel and drum and land. gordon is a seal. he takes pictures then goes for a swim in the river.

drumming. it is okay for us to be here?

drumming. we love you land.

drumming. we are guests.

drumming. we are land.

drumming. sharing a heart beat.

drumming. talking to the land.

drumming. sharing a heart beat with the ancestors of this land.

drum. we are grateful.

Drumming Reconciliation #4

outside is a sweatlodge. drums are relaxing after their trip to the stein valley. drums sound quiet. flat. overwork. i am worried. I worry about the life span of the picking up the pieces drums. i worry about the practice of reconciliation. i worry about everything. i feel like i’ve misplaced my resonance.

That is probably why all art aspires to the condition of wordlessness. When literature works on you, it does so in silence, in your dreams, in your wordless moments. Good words enter you and become moods, become the quiet fabric of your being. like music, like painting, lieterature too wants to transcend its primary condition and become something higher. Art wants to move into silence, into emotional and spiritual conditions of the work. Statues become like melodies, melodies become yearnings, yearnings become action

(Ben Okri: A Way of Being Free. 1997)

drumming is a practice. I decide that reconciliation requires daily practice. like a lojong meditation. breath in. breath out. elliot gould. breath in. breath out. elliot gould. breath in breath out. land. breaths. reconciliation breaths. I can’t wait for canada to catch up. i practice drumming homeopathy and fight fire with fire. drumming fire. drumming breath. the drum teaches me that there is another fire. an ancient fire. land fire. burns hotter than canadian political fire. the thing about reconciliation, is it requires a path. it requires bravery. it requires a sense of self. a sense of self in relation to this land. in relation to the original peoples of this land. without this you are. we are. only ghosts. like the original words for white people. words for fitting into an existing system. a name. until you earn your real name. reconciliation is earning your real name. in a system. drumming is tool for seeing this name. resonance between drum. between drummer. between history. between future. between present. the right drum stick is really important.

ayumi goto. my collaborator. my sister. will you drum with me?


we take the picking up the pieces drums outside into the sweatlodge.

we walk side by side.

we match our drum beat.

we match our heart beat.

we drum to the land.

the land drums back.

secwepemc land.

land. goto. me. share heart beats.

this is reconciliation.

reconciliation is drumming.

be afraid.

What a laugh. So rippling and full of glee it put out fire. And it was Sixo’s laughter that was on his mind, not the bit in his mouth, when they hitched him to the buckboard. Then he saw Halle, then the rooster, smiling as if to say, You ain’t seen nothing yet. How could a rooster know about Alfred, Georgia?

(Toni Morrison: Beloved 1987)

canada, with five small words. you have begun to capture my heart. when you said. and for this we are sorry. i thought something was different. actually. I admit freely. that until this moment. i hadn’t given you much thought canada. you were not even a blimp on my radar. a nothing. to be sqeezed. you meant nothing. not a history. tahltan history is history. and tahltan history is cloudy because you interfered. that’s it.

the drum articulates history. with each resonance we are living a history. deep rich. there is a reason why it is called the heart beat of the nation. heart beats write the nations history. canada. I am canadian. this is a heart beat. people fight for their hear beats. people want to be alive. without compromise. heart beats create reflection. heart beats create a motivation to remember. because each moment is an opportunity for death. the end of life. the end of words. worlds. the end of drums. heart. heart beats. memory. death. drums.

canada, i don’t blame you.

canada, i built you.

canada, i continue to pick up the pieces.

canada, i know the path to reconciliation.

reconciliation is purposeful action. defined and considered. a recognition of nations. a designated space for nation-to-nation conversation. a designated space for nation-to-nation action. reconciliation is seeing the original people of this land as nations. a nation is made up of heart beats fighting to stay alive. the drum is a tool to see this. the drum opens up opportunity. you heart. my heart. tahltan heart. canada heart. land heart. heard. singing together.


Canada reconciles. then what?

Canada throws a party.

I bring the picking up the pieces drums to the party.

4 Responses to Drumming. Reconciliation. by Peter Morin

  1. Jon dowdall says:

    Street after street after street after street
    Resonance of forty pots
    Being banged
    In the rain
    In the middle of an intersecion
    Smiles are tools
    Hearts are factories
    Brains are transmitters
    Prayers are comets
    Hands are guides

  2. Norma Dunning says:

    I didn’t see Peter dance…but I watched the video Keavy Marting and what I loved:

    The Keavy Martin piece about the fellow who danced ’til his feet bled – that was powerful, incredibly power-filled. How the spirits lifted that dancer to such heights and passion is completely undescribable and his wanting to give strength and power back to the committee members through his dancing – completely unreal, and unselfish. His own spirit must have been exhausted let alone his feet!

  3. Norma Dunning says:

    What I loved – the Keavy Martin piece about the fellow who danced ’til his feet bled – that was powerful, incredibly power-filled. How the spirits lifted that dancer to such heights and passion is completely undescribable and his wanting to give strength and power back to the committee members through his dancing – completely unreal, and unselfish. His own spirit must have been exhausted let alone his feet!

  4. Pingback: Truth and Reconciliation Through Art | BCcampus

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