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Tulita Dene Drummers CD released

Antoine Mountain
Guest columnist
Monday, July 21, 2008

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Friends, just in time for the summer festival season we have a new CD from the Tulita Dene Drummers, who, by the way, featured their Mountain Dene stylings at our recent "Sahtu In the Arts" events in Yellowknife, and were a great crowd favourite.

This particular set of recordings highlights the songs of one Shutaogotine Chief Yahts'ule, who 'received' a total of 52 spiritual songs to pass along to the people. As Dene statesman George Blondin explained to me early on in my career as an artist, some of these songs have a very specific purpose.

When the time came for one special ceremony, which was the subject for one of my paintings, these mountain travellers would stop their dogteams and make a fire, and a person like Yahts'ule would take out their drum and heat and tune it by the fire, right out there in the open. Then, all who wanted their children to have a special blessing bestowed upon them, would bring the youngsters forth to hear the song, which would ask the creator for a long life for this child.

No doubt some of these same Tulita Drummers were present at such a doing themselves, for one can easily spot a number of white tops in the line, the Andrew brothers prominent.

It is stories like this that are really behind many of the songs on this one CD, and I recall how I was honoured by my good friend and relative Charlie Tobac and the Radilih Koe''/Fort Good Hope Drummers at the Great Northern Arts Festival, which is by the way celebrating its 20th Anniversary as you read in Inuvik Drum.

These drummers played one Mountain Dene song, with the atypical double-beat, just for my career as an artist before the entire assembly, which brought a tear to my heart, and it was also indeed a great tribute to our native Northern culture, as are the songs on this CD.

By the way, you can order it for yourself by contacting either Paul Andrew in Yellowknife or Rosa Etchinelle in Tulita.

As far as I can tell many of these songs are also favourites at any Dene drum dance and generally just have a very good and warm human feeling to them.

Mahsi cho!

- Antoine Mountain is a Dene artist and writer originally from Radilih Koe'/Fort Good Hope. He can be reached at