Inuit Drum Dancing Of The Arctic
By Clint Leung, Sat Dec 10th
Like many other aboriginal cultures around the world, the Inuitof the Canadian Arctic have made use of drums;
in some of theirtraditional music for centuries. Inuit drum dancing played apart in many special occasions such as births, marriages, anInuit boy's first hunt, changing of seasons, greetings forvisitors or to honor someone who had passed away. News of thesespecial events was spread by word of mouth and many Inuittraveled great distances to attend.
The Inuit drum called a qilaut was traditionally made fromcaribou skin with seal or walrus skin around the handle. Before,Inuit drum dancing was most commonly done by men but eventuallyboth men and women performed it. There were various Inuit songscalled ajaaja that were sung while drum dancing. In the past,many individuals had their own ajaaja songs that were unique tothem and about their own personal life experiences. There werealso many songs that were passed down through many generationsof Inuit.
Like Inuit throat singing, the practice of Inuit drum dancingwas banned by Christian missionaries for many years. Eventually,the Inuit regained their right to perform their drum dances.However,
dancing is not as important today to Inuitlife as it once was since
western lifestyles have become such abig part of the northern Arctic.
Inuit drum dancing is stillsometimes performed at symbolic celebrations
such as openingceremonies for conferences, festivals, graduations and
shows fortourists. Watching an Inuit drum dancer perform his or her
musiccan be almost hypnotic and is one of the special treats fromInuit
culture to be enjoyed by all. Inuit drum dancers are acommon subject
for Inuit art carvings and drawings. Inuitartists have even outfitted
some of their animal subjects withInuit drums.