Drums represent ‘life, our heartbeat’

J. Fred Fox | Collegio Reporter

John Anderson is part of the Mescalero Apache tribe. He says he has been trying his whole life to overcome the ignorance many people have about his heritage. Anderson travels the world singing and playing

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his drum to educate people about modern Native Americans.
Anderson brought his talents to PSU on Thursday, Nov. 29, in the U-club in the Overman Student Center, and he played to an audience of about 50 people. He showcased a variety of music, from war and veteran songs to love and goodbye songs. Anderson also spent time explaining the symbology of his drum and the meanings of what he sang.
“The drum is a sacred object. It represents our life, our heartbeat,” Anderson said.
Brandon Mailand says he came to the performance to receive credit for a class, but he says he enjoyed the show.
“My favorite part was the war song. He’s really funny,” said Mailand, senior in biology and psychology. “I’m from Lawrence where we have Haskell Indian Nations University, so this wasn’t all that new to me. I’ve been to quite a few powwows.”
Ashley Kissee, senior in history education, says she is from the Eastern Shawnee tribe in Seneca, Mo. Kissee says she particularly enjoyed the love songs.
“It reminds me of my family and powwows back home,” she said.
One of Anderson’s stories exemplified the ignorance of people about Native Americans.
“We had about 20 cops storm up on us, with shotguns and dogs, while we were out playing our drum one night,” Anderson said. “All because someone called the cops on us, saying our get-together was a pagan ritual.”
He says many people still think of Native Americans as a backwards people.
“We have morals, values and spiritual lives a lot like yours,” he said. “Though many people don’t seem to see that. Many people think that Native Americans still live in teepees wearing loincloths, while others think they’re extinct.”
Non-native states like Missouri still have laws restricting Native Americans from rights such as running lucrative casinos. Until 1959, they were not allowed to buy alcohol or tobacco in the United States.
“People’s ignorance of us is really just a lack of knowledge. People think we get a free ride,” Anderson said.

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