Indian Guns and Drums

Native people seemed to always embellish their possessions. Whether it be shirts or weapons of war, they always added character to their bare necessities. This time consuming practice could add meaning and personalization to their possessions. With the introduction of the white man into their native lands the indians began to adopt aspects of the white mans society in order to compete with him. Some of the white mans ways actually made it easier for the native american to exist. The bow had always been important to the indian. With the white man came the introduction of firearms. The indians adapted to this new form of power but also added touches of their own. The firearm became an object for embellishment. Tacks were generally used on gun stocks and forearms in elaborate patterns. I have also seen horse hair and other forms of decoration used on these objects.

I became fascinated by the firearms offered in the indian style in the form of the Winchester 94 and Marlin lever action rifles by various modern day companies. The Crazy Horse rifle offered in the form of the Winchester 94 rifle is a work of art. Artful scenes on the side plates of the rifles along with tactful tack decorations on the wood parts of the rifles were awe inspiring. The art work on the Marlin firearm that I witnessed was art elevated to it’s highest level.

I had a Winchester 94 in my possession that was not new and had also taken deer sized game in it’s life. The gun was in good shape with good wood and excellent bluing. This was my project. I had looked at the various examples of decorations on various rifles. I decided to make my own art work on this rifle my own personal expression. The tack work followed the traditional lines of indian inspired rifle work. On one side of the stock I decorated the rifle with the out line of one of the most inspiring power animals in Indian lore. On the other side of the stock the tacks followed the lines of a teepee with a silver coin with period illustrations emblazoned upon it. This rifle is now a valued part of my collection.

The Indian also decorated the tool he used in religious ceremonies. The drum was very important to the Indian. Part of its use was a tool used to communicate with the other world and spirits. Modern science has verified that certain drum beats transform ones brain into a type of receiver and transmitter. The drum changes the wave and state of your brain pattern. The indians mainly used animal hides to make a covering for the drum. Beating on this material produced the tone so many of us are familiar with. Synthetic material is a better transmitter of tonal quality than the animal hide.

My drum arrived at my home having started out life as animal hide and wood being crafted by tribal Indians. Animal hide reacts to changes in temperature and barometric pressure. Humid days change the tonal capacity of animal hide drums. I began by using a sealer both front and back to the animal hide to help guard against changes in weather conditions.I am not the fine artist in the family. I crafted a legible rendition of the scene that I wanted on the drum. In this case the scene involved a high desert scene with several teepees and a camp fire. My wife did wonders with the desert scenery and cactus. It was dusk on the desert and night was approaching. The sky reflected this aspect of the clock. Above this scene in shadowy tones was the power animal that benefitted the moment. Additional decoration was added with leather lacing and hand painted feathers that resembled those of the eagle. With the help of my spouse I was able to add another valuable decoration to our home.

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