Posted by: jamesfeltman | January 29, 2012

Native American Drum Dedication

The Westcore neighborhood, along with the larger Holland and west Michigan area used to be home to many, and is still now home to some Native Americans. This is sometimes a surprise to people. There are 3 tribes indigenous to our area: Potawatomi, Chippewa, and Odawa, although people from other Nations such as Blackfoot are also our neighbors.

A group of Christian Native Americans and others interested in their services meet every Monday evening at New Community Church at the corner of 15th and Washington. They participate in a time of worship while not forgetting their native culture. A talking stick is passed around the gathered circle and prayers and praises are shared among the circle. The group is called Rising Fires. The members of the group all belong to different area churches, but meet to share their common culture. The group is led by Luther Von Miller along with Jose Rene Martinez.

This past Monday was a special day for Rising Fires. Mike Peters, an ordained minister, and past leader of the group, returned to dedicate a new drum for the Rising Fires circle. The drum is both important and sacred to Native American culture. It is played to ask for peace among cultures. It represents the heartbeat of the earth, the heartbeat of the Native American. The sounds of the drum rise up to God in worship.

Rising Fire’s drum was dedicated so that it would always be played to honor God, to honor culture, and to honor peace.

The drum dedication ceremony began with sacred medicines being spread around the drum. An herbal blend called kinnikinnik is then sprinkled on the drum. Sweet smelling sage is lit and the incense rises. Sweet grass is burned to represent inviting God’s presence. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them,” quotes Luther von Miller.

After the drum had been dedicated, folks gathered around the drum to play it in worship. The group sang three songs together.

Song 1:  Yahweh, Creator, be here now.

Jesus set us free (Yes, Lord)

Jesus heal the land.

Song 2:  Praise the Lord for he is good.

His mercy lasts forever.

He gives you grace when things go wrong,

He gives you strength when you can’t go on.

Song 3:  Yahweh, you have helped us

And we’re rejoicing.

We say thanks.

Luther believes that we are all members of one tribe—one tribe of Christians, and that one day all drums will be played in unison.

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  1. How WONDERFUL! If I may make a shameless plug…I work for Bethany Christian Services and we are looking for a Native American home for a 10 year old boy who is waiting for adoption. Can be single or married. Please contact me at if you would like more information.

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