How to Make a Native American Drum?

Making a Native American drum is a traditional craft that allows you to connect with the rich cultural heritage of Native American people.

In this DIY guide, I will provide you with a step-by-step process for creating your own authentic Native American drum.

Unlike other crafts that may involve cultural appropriation, Native American drums have remained a respected and revered symbol of Native American culture.

It is essential to approach this craft with the utmost respect and understanding.

By following this guide, you will learn the art of traditional Native American drum crafting and acquire the necessary skills to handcraft your very own drum.

Let’s get started on this meaningful and fulfilling journey of creating a Native American drum with your own hands.

decorating a native american drum

Materials Needed to Make a Native American Drum

To make a Native American drum, you will need several materials. These include:

  • Wood for the hoop
  • Rawhide
  • Sharp scissors
  • An awl or leather puncher
  • Sage for blessings

It’s important to have all these materials ready before starting the drum-making process.

Wood for the hoopThis will serve as the framework of the drum and provide support for the rawhide.
RawhideThe skin of an animal, usually deer or buffalo, which is stretched over the hoop to create the drumhead.
Sharp scissorsUsed for cutting the rawhide into the desired shape and size.
An awl or leather puncherThese tools are used to create holes in the rawhide and wood to secure the drumhead to the hoop.
Sage for blessingsSage is traditionally used for smudging and blessing the materials and the workspace before beginning the drum-making process.

Soaking and Preparing the Rawhide

The first step in creating a Native American drum is to properly prepare the rawhide.

This essential process ensures that the rawhide becomes pliable and easier to work with. Follow these steps to prepare the rawhide for your drum:

  1. Fill a container with cold water.
  2. Submerge the rawhide in the water and let it soak overnight.
  3. After soaking, remove the rawhide from the water and gently squeeze out any excess moisture.
  4. Cut the rawhide into a circle shape using sharp scissors. This circle will later be used as a string to pull the skin over the drum’s hoop.

By soaking and preparing the rawhide in this way, you ensure that it will be pliable and ready for the drum-making process.

Next, let’s move on to the next step in creating your own Native American drum.

Blessing and Assembling the Drum

Before you begin assembling your Native American drum, it is customary to bless the materials and yourself.

This sacred act is done to honor the spiritual significance of the drum and ensure the sound it produces resonates harmoniously.

To bless the drum, start by burning sage around the drum materials. This purifies the space and envelops the materials in positive energy.

As the smoke from the sage rises, say a prayer or offer words of gratitude to the spirits for the gift of the drum.

Once the materials are blessed, you can proceed with assembling the drum. Begin by making 16 pairs of evenly spaced holes around the edge of the rawhide. These holes will be used to secure the skin to the hoop.

Next, place the hoop in the center of the rawhide, ensuring that it aligns with the holes you previously made. The hoop serves as the foundation of the drum and provides stability.

Using the rawhide string, start weaving it through the pairs of holes, securing the skin to the hoop. As you weave, pull the rawhide string tightly to ensure a snug fit. This step is essential for the drum to produce a clear and resonant sound.

Continue weaving the rawhide string through all the pairs of holes until the entire skin is tightly secured to the hoop. Take care to maintain an even tension throughout the process.

Congratulations! You have successfully blessed and assembled your Native American drum. It is now ready to be played and cherished for its rich cultural heritage and spiritual significance.

Securing the Rawhide and Finalizing the Drum

Once you have woven the rawhide around the entire hoop and secured all the holes, the next step in constructing your Native American drum is to gather the rawhide string into four groups.

This grouping of the rawhide holds significant meaning and adds to the overall symbolism of the drum.

After securing the rawhide, the drum needs to be left to dry for 1-2 days. This drying period allows the rawhide to tighten, ensuring a taut drum skin that produces optimal sound quality.

It’s important to hang the drum to dry in a way that allows air to contact the entire drum surface, promoting even drying and preventing any moisture-related issues.

By ensuring the rawhide is properly secured and allowing the drum to dry correctly, you are taking the necessary steps to finalize your Native American drum. These essential final stages are crucial in creating a durable and authentic instrument that will provide you with a rich and resonant sound.

Decorating and Customizing the Drum

Once the drum is complete, you have the option to decorate and customize it to your liking.

Personalizing your Native American drum not only adds aesthetic appeal but also allows you to infuse it with your own unique energy and symbolism. Here are a few ideas to spark your creativity:

1. Paint Designs on the Drum

You can use acrylic paint or powdered pigment paints to create intricate designs on the drum skin. Explore Native American patterns, symbols, and motifs to honor the cultural heritage and add an authentic touch to your drum.

Whether it’s geometric shapes, animal totems, or spiritual symbols, painting designs on your drum allows you to express your artistic vision while paying homage to Native American traditions.

2. Add Feathers and Beads

Feathers and beads are traditional adornments that can enhance the beauty and significance of your Native American drum.

Choose feathers that hold symbolic meaning for you, such as eagle feathers representing strength and connection to the spiritual realm. For beads, opt for colors and patterns that resonate with your intentions or reflect your personal journey.

3. Incorporate Symbolic Elements

Consider incorporating symbolic elements that hold personal significance for you. These could be small charms, talismans, or tokens that represent your spiritual beliefs, cultural heritage, or life experiences.

Select items that resonate with you on a deep level and attach them securely to the drum to infuse it with your unique energy.

Take the time to reflect on what personal touches you would like to add to your drum. Allow your creativity to guide you and remember to approach the process with reverence and respect for Native American traditions.

With your imagination as your guide, you can transform your Native American drum into a sacred instrument that holds both artistic beauty and personal meaning.

Playing the Native American Drum

Now that you have completed your own authentic Native American drum, it’s time to experience the joy of playing it and immerse yourself in the mesmerizing sounds it produces.

Native American drums are traditionally played by hand, using various techniques to create different tones and rhythms.

When playing the drum, experiment with different hand positions and striking techniques to find the sound that resonates with you.

You can use your bare hands or utilize drumsticks made from natural materials like wood or bone. Each strike and touch of the drum will produce its unique timbre, allowing you to create a rhythm that resonates deep within.

The tranquil and rhythmic beat of the Native American drum has been used for centuries in various ceremonial and healing practices.

Using these drum can bring a sense of grounding, connection, and meditation. As you play, allow yourself to be fully present in the moment and let the rhythm guide your spirit.

Whether you’re playing alone or with others, the Native American drum has a way of bringing people together, creating a powerful and communal experience. It can be used for personal reflection, ceremonial gatherings, or simply as a means of self-expression.

Connecting with the Drum

When playing the Native American drum, it’s important to approach it with reverence and respect.

Each drum carries its own unique energy and spirit, connecting you with the natural world and the rich heritage of Native American culture.

As you play, listen to the sound of the drum and allow it to guide you. Feel the vibrations reverberate through your body and connect you to ancient rhythms and traditions.

Let the drum become an extension of yourself, a vessel through which you can speak and listen to the language of the heart.

Remember to honor and care for your drum, treating it as a sacred object. Store it in a safe place, away from extreme temperatures and humidity.

You can also use smudging techniques, such as burning sacred herbs like sage or sweetgrass, to cleanse and purify the drum, maintaining its spiritual connection.

So go ahead, take your seat, and let the rhythmic beats of the Native American drum transport you to a place of harmony, connection, and inner peace.


Now that you learn how to make a Native American drum, take a moment to appreciate the beauty and significance of this traditional instrument.

Once your drum is complete, you have the opportunity to express your creativity by decorating and customizing it to your personal taste.

Whether you choose to paint intricate designs or adorn it with symbols that hold personal significance, your drum becomes a reflection of your individuality.

Finally, playing the drum allows you to experience the rich sounds and rhythms it produces.

As you explore different hand positions and striking techniques, you discover the unique tones and vibrations that resonate with your soul.

So, why wait? Start your drum-making journey today and embark on a beautiful and meaningful connection to Native American culture through the art of handcrafting a Native American drum.

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