How to Build a Pow Wow Drum

Published on August 17, 2014 by Amy

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Pow Wow Drum
Pow Wow Drum

Native American pow wow drums are the most recognized symbols of American Indian culture. This type of drum symbolizes Native American history and art. It is also the center of dancing and singing. Traditionally, American Indian pow wow drums are played by groups of Native American men who stand around them in a circle and sing. Purchasing a pow wow drum can cost anywhere between $400 and $1,000, but you can significantly cut down the costs by making your own.

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1. Cut the trunk of a tree, preferably a Cedar or Pine tree, in two with a chainsaw. The sawed piece should be at least two feet in diameter and three feet in height.

2. Take a drill to hollow it out. The perimeter of the trunk should be at least one inch thick. After removing the inside of the tree, the trunk should now look like the letter “O.”

3. Skin off the bark around the remaining tree trunk using a chisel and hammer. Soak the trunk in water for a day to make the bark softer and easier to remove.

4. Smooth the entire tree trunk evenly with sandpaper.

5. Use a paint brush or rag to stain the whole trunk with wood finish, preferably in the color of “red oak.” Allow it to dry overnight.

6. Purchase cured, horse rawhide on the Internet. A couple of online stores to try are Leather Unlimited and Tandy Leather Factory.

7. Sit the trunk of the tree on the rawhide. Use a pencil to draw a circle three inches larger than the trunk’s current diameter. Use a pair of scissors to cut out the sketched circle. Repeat this step again in order to have two circular rawhide pieces.

8. Mark “X”s near the edge of each circular piece of rawhide, making the markings two inches apart. These markings should outline the entire piece of rawhide.

9. Pierce holes in each marking with a knife. Sit the tree trunk on one of the pieces of circular rawhide. Stretch the second piece over the top of the tree trunk.

10. Use rawhide string to secure both pieces of rawhide together. Loop the hide tightly from top to bottom and back again. Tie off the loose ends.

Source: ehow Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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American Psychological Association (APA):

How to Build a Pow Wow Drum Unabridged. Retrieved May 29, 2015, from website:

Chicago Manual Style (CMS):

How to Build a Pow Wow Drum Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia (accessed: May 29, 2015).

Modern Language Association (MLA):

"How to Build a Pow Wow Drum" Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia 29 May. 2015. <>.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):, "How to Build a Pow Wow Drum" in Unabridged. Source location: Native American Encyclopedia Available: Accessed: May 29, 2015.

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@ article {NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com2015,
    title = { Unabridged},
    month = May,
    day = 29,
    year = 2015,
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