Drum Dancing Story
A long time ago, the people of a small community now known as Inuvik asked Martha Harry and her husband, well-respected Elders, to teach them traditional drum dancing. In the early days, Martha and her husband had to practise beating time on a piece of cardboard. After a few years, however, people started making their own drums using ivory, caribou skin, wood and sinew. Everyone, including children, wanted to learn traditional dancing. It took them some time to learn the "Hunting Seal Song" and its special moves. This song is about the people of Inuvik, who had to hunt because they were starving.
Drum dancing and a feast are still part of special celebrations and events in Inuvik. At feasts, the community shows its respect for its Elders by waiting for them to be seated and to be served first. When the drum dancing begins, the Elders start off the first dance.
Members of the Inuvik community, both young and old, have formed a group called The Inuvik Drummers and Dancers. The group has performed at the Canadian Museum of Civilization and in the Western Arctic.
The Inuvik Drummers and Dancers
Like all other peoples of the world, the Inuvialuit of the Western Arctic have a form of song and dance. Prior to the arrival of the Tan'ngit (Europeans) on our traditional lands, the Inuvialuit used songs and chants to recount legends, stories and prehistory at gatherings. In traditional times, they would hold festivals and gatherings where many of our people would dance to act out songs and chants.
After the arrival of the Tan'ngit, Inuvialuit culture began to change. Among the changes was a decline in the transmission of our traditional form of dance. The need to pass on this form of dance, as well as our songs, to younger generations was of great concern to our Elders. They recognized that an integral part of our culture could be lost and forgotten. As a result of their concern, many young determined individuals began to learn the art of drum dancing, guided by our Elders. Today, after only four years of instruction, there are four prominent groups of drummers and dancers, both young and old. One of these groups is The Inuvik Drummers and Dancers.