Pura Fe, Tuscarora Musician, on Native Music


Pura Fe Sings “My People My Land”

Pura Fe Sings “Long House”

Recorded/Transcribed interviews of Pura Fe talking about:

Native Women

As soon as Pura Fe sat down in Malinda’s office on April 29, she began to speak of Women Sacredness.  She said that she was a part of the Women Sacred River Drums Society, which “tribally speaking…[is] the body of women that come out of all of these different tribal communities.  We recognize that we form sort of a hub within Virginia and the Carolinas, where so many of us are related, through all of the migrations and everything.  We are the descendants of those that survived all of those early Indian Wars.  And we realized that the people were pretty much related back then, as they are now….even though there are these distinct communities, we all intermarried and there’s some very commoness and we still have lots of connections.  The music, and pretty much everything, is very much the same, in each one of these communities, and we share a lot.  And it’ll keep evolving, ya know, but we’ll still be the same…the same bunch of folks in the same hub…” She then went on to talk about the uniting purpose of the Women Sacred River Drums Society, in that it “broke down a lot of the political barriers that were put up, and boundaries, and labels and so forth, and it was just to try to recognize an ancestral connection in our purpose as women within the communities, and how we can make things better.  And I think that…banding together like that, we felt, was a way to have a voice and to support each other through whatever.”

Pura Fe speaking on Native Matriarchy

Indian languages

Pura Fe speaking on Indian Languages


Later, when describing drumming patterns within native music, she said “even with that Pow-wow culture, big drum societies which grew out of the west, which have taken on everywhere, you have several different types of beats…Plains Indian music which is everywhere now…you have you’re straight beat, you have you’re round dancecrow hops….there’s different rhythms…but the one that seems to be universal with all tribes everywhere is [plays round dance rhythm].  So that obviously must be something that connects everybody, something that must be viewed as the heartbeat of the earth.  And you have different…types of drums.  And one drum that’s traditional to our people here in this region from long ago is the water drum, which really comes out of the women…it’s a drum that came out of the time of war…that has a totally different beat as well.  That’s played very…quick.  But they do have their own little round dance type of heart beat as well.  Everything is pretty much centered around a drum, or a rattle, of some sort.  One of our traditional instruments was a slap stick, which they used to get from the river cane, those reins.  They would take those, and slit it, and put something between the slits, and they would just slap it.  And the other traditional instrument was…one of those drumsticks, it has the ridges on it.  There’s a stick with ridges and you take another stick and run it over…But there were a lot of instruments that came into the communities, which became a part of their traditional music, whether it was guitars and violins, or a jews harp…a jug…Indian people were very much a  part of helping that come into American music, and have made large contributions, and their music is part of the ingredients that you hear today on American radio.  That’s true.  Whether it’s jazz, blues, country, you can hear some of the native influence, especially from the southeast….if you hear traditional music from the southeast, early field recordings, you’ll say, “wow”! …You hear that influence.

Pura Fe speaking on slavery and drums


When speaking about the spirit of the music, she said, “even though [now] there’s a religion [associated with Native Music], that is a christian religion, or [how it’s now sung in] english…it’s still carried out the way our people would’ve done it before colonization, so that’s what i was talking about. This spirit, it just never goes away. It can’t as long as the people are alive, then they will carry out who they are, and the way they are, and it is genetic.  It’s a genetic memory.  It’s why you’re face looks the way it does, it’s formed from the people you come from….no matter what the atmosphere is changing, you’re going to adapt into it, but in the way that you learned from way back when.  So it just keeps developing with that same spirit.

Pura Fe speaking on Harmony

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