Sioux Falls man shares Native American Culture through drumming and singing

Native American Heritage Month: Drumming and singing group keep traditions alive
Published: Nov. 25, 2022 at 8:48 AM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -At a children’s birthday party in Sioux Falls, a group gathers to celebrate with balloons, presents, and candy. But this party has so much more. Shaun Garnette and his friends are setting up their drum to sing and dance as part of their rich Native American Heritage.

“At any time we’re celebrating, that drum is coming out. Because we’re gonna round dance, we’re gonna have a good time,” says Garnette. “It’s all about the feeling the vibe, the culture.”

After moving to Sioux Falls three years ago, Garnette says there was no group, so he decided to create one.

“I’ll make a drum, and I had some good brothers behind me that would help me back up the song,” says Garnette. “I tried that drum, and we came out in the community, and we’ve sang everywhere.”

You may find the group drumming at a city park, a memorial service, a birthday party, or in a parade.

There are several types of songs they sing.

“Some of the songs, but they might be for a person or a reason, but they’re just a melody that has nothing to do with words. ‘What did they say?’ And we didn’t say anything. We just got a vibe; we brought a melody,” says Garnette.

Other songs come from the heart.

“When it’s a prayer song, it’s the words that matter. So you don’t even have to say a prayer. You can sing that song, and that’s your prayer. I’m suffering. Help me, asking for our Creator to help,” says Garnette.

And when the women join in:

“The Lakota culture, It’s called Wicaglata. They make the song better,” says Garnette.

Drumming and singing for others also bring Garnette his own rewards. He points to his heart.

“Because it’s making this feel good. This is where my heart’s at, and it’s so cool to see my kids just so interested,” says Garnette.

While the next generation learns the drum, the previous generation joins them in spirit.

“These kids, their grandmas, or relatives that are no longer here. They come around. They’re here. We’re spiritual,” says Garnette.