Eddie Benton-Benai describes the roles that instruments such as the shaker, flute and drum
play in Ojibwe life. Tribal members perform traditional music. Also shown are
the Spirit Bird Singers, a group of younger musicians carrying on and extending
the traditions. 30 minutes (cc)
The First Music
The original folk music of this part of the world comes from the Anishinnaabe people. The shaker is the first instrument of the people.
The Eagle Whistle and the Flute
The sounds of nature inspire American Indian music. Musicians must earn the right to play their instruments, like the mournful flute, said to be inspired by the death of a young husband and offering solace to the grieving wife.
"Drums represent the heartbeat of the people," says traditionalist Eddie Benton-Benai. Young people are once again singing the old songsand writing new ones.
Benton-Benai describes the extraordinary musical gifts and leadership strengths of his son Spirit Bird, who was tragically killed in a 1991 auto accident.
The Water Drum
The water drum is known as the drum of drums. It was the fist one given, and uses and represents elements of the natural worldplant and animal life, and water.