Manataka American Indian Council
Women's Drum Circle
The Grandfathers tell a story of the Rainbow Woman who blessed and guarded the Valley and the healing waters of Nówâ-sa-lon, the hot springs, on Manataka Mountain, the Place of Peace.
The Grandfathers tell of this sacred ground and the Valley of Vapors which held great meaning for all First Nations people; a place where pilgrimages were made to seek the favor of the Lady of the Rainbow. Here sacred leaders of all Nations gathered to pray and perform sacred ceremonies.
And today, they still come. Manataka American Indian Council preserves the stories of the Place of Peace, welcomes visiting Tribal Elders and continues the tradition of prayer and ceremony in this Sacred place.
The ceremonies held by members of MAIC include the Manataka Rainbow Sisters Drum group, led by Amanda Morningstar Moore. Named for the Woman of the Rainbow who presides over Manataka, the Rainbow Sisters Drum is an all-woman group. For First Nations people, the Drum is the Heartbeat of Mother Earth. There is a story told which says that the Women gave the Drum to the Men so they could be closer Mother Earth. Women, by their nature, are already in touch with the Mother.
Some of the Grandmother’s have said that now it is time for the Women to take back the Drum. Mother Earth is in crisis and the Women must create the vibrations needed for her healing.
“The Drum itself is high Medicine,” explains Becky Flaming Owl Moore. “Like a woman, the Drum is a healer. Simply beating the Drum relieves stress and anxiety. Whether playing your own heart song alone or playing with a group that is in sync with each other, drumming is the greatest joy and blessing,” states Flaming Owl.
“The drumming has not changed,” says P. Redwing Prather, another member of the Manataka Rainbow Sisters. “It has not changed, only individualized by each yet it remains a channel of communications between the limits of human-ness with the limitless-ness of Spirit.”
Rainbow Sisters Drum follows in the footsteps of MAIC’s prior all-woman drum group led by Melinda Smith. Melinda led the group for several years. She, along with Cheryl Renfrey, Barbara Sample and others taught the women of Manataka many traditional songs and rhythms. Melinda trained Morningstar handed the title of Drum Leader over to her last year.
“As her mother, her sister and her friend, I cannot express how proud I am of Morning Star since she has become Drum Leader,” exclaims Flaming Owl.
“During the summer and fall she held weekly Drum sessions in our home; the drumming has lit a fire in our hearts that burned brighter and brighter the longer we played,” continues Flaming Owl.
Drumming is an important element in the ceremonies and prayers of indigenous peoples all over the planet. Most of the peoples associate the drum with Mother Earth and it’s vibration is a means of communication with Her and with Creator.
As Flaming Owl explains, The vibrations of the Drum connect directly with the Mother Earth.” Drumming is an act of reverence and prayer. Through the vibration of the Drum and the voice the prayers of the people are carried to Creator and All Our Relations, says Flaming Owl. “My favorite way to drum is barefoot and feet flat on the ground. My personal Medicine Drum is held so its vibrations run down me and into the Mother [Earth].
Practice sessions with the Ceremonial Drum have become a time of rejuvenation and healing for the Rainbow Sisters. “Any of all of us can be so down and depressed, but sitting at the Drum, sharing our energy with one another, laughing and singer, pulls us up by the bootstraps immediately, says Flaming Owl.
“We raise the roof with good energy!”
Redwing offers this description of the group’s drumming
We are learning to love unconditionally which will bring peace to each individual while bringing peace to the group heart that it might express out into all manifestation. [We are] a work of art in progress... As we are being molded by Creator into the Beings of Light that we are, our shining is the statement of the condition of the channel at any given moment, which is as clear and pure as our heart's intent. So we are like all others in our human condition which is constantly different in it's brightness.
It is a tremendous honor and a responsibility to sit the Ceremonial Drum, who is considered a Grandmother and Wise Elder. As another drummer said, “[We] Always take 'me' out of the 'we' before the drumming begins for [the Drum] is to tell Mother Earth our peoples' heart's longing and if 'me' appears, it swallows the 'we' in it and thus blocks the good of the All.”
And it is for the good of the all that the Manataka American Indian Council continues to preserve the sacred history and ceremonies associated with the Hot Springs area. Our world in crisis, our Mother Earth crying for healing, for these we pray and call upon the Woman of the Rainbow to gather her Rainbow Tribe together for the Healing that is to come.
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