The Cancega Woksape Project is a drum workshop on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that began in 2011. The program travels to different host schools or community centers on the Reservation and provides much needed programming for Lakota boys (hoksila) and young teen males (koshkalaka). It is focused on building relevant skills and stronger relationships with their community. Specifically, 4th-8th graders learn the ancient Lakota art of creating hand-drums along with the traditions surrounding the drum (elder male guidance, Lakota language, traditional art designs for drums, and songs played in the custom of their ancestors).
Two highly esteemed Oglala Lakota drum makers (Gus Yellow Hair and Melvin Young Bear), who gained their knowledge from their own male relatives, offer guidance in all aspects of crafting a Lakota hand drum while integrating the oral Lakota woksape (wisdom). Participants begin by learning to scrape hides using traditional tools, and finalize the drums by painting them. In addition, the youth gain knowledge of how these creative skills can be used to earn an income and learn to perform together with their individually crafted traditional drums.
Through mentorship, connection with culture, and new skills, the project enhances the boys’ attitudes about themselves, pride in their heritage, and builds skills for their futures.
Many thanks to our previous supporters for this program: the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, South Dakota Arts Council, Rex Foundation, First People’s Fund, and the Academy of Country Music.