Heartbeat of the Pow-wow Nation
Anthony Yahola is a talented craftsman who specializes in decorative drumsticks. He is an enrolled member of the Muscogee Creek Nation of Oklahoma and a descendant of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, the Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma, and the Otoe Tribe of Oklahoma. Mr. Yahola resides in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
During childhood, Mr. Yahola was exposed to pow-wow singing and took an immediate interest. At age 12 he began singing in the Southern Style, a regional style of pow-wow singing in which songs are sung in a lower vocal range with a faster-paced tempo to create the melody. In his teenage years, he learned the Northern Style of singing which is characterized by the high-pitched falsetto and a slower rhythmic beat. Being around seasoned singers who used decorative drumsticks inspired him to produce his own.
Once he acquired the general knowledge on how drumsticks were put together, Mr. Yahola began constructing his own style of percussion sticks. However, he soon realized he would need to advance his drumstick-making skills to a higher level to create the implements he admired. As his skills matured, the drumsticks he made became more ornate in decoration and durable in use. Today Mr. Yahola’s talents are known throughout Oklahoma and across pow-wow country, providing him a large customer base.
The physical act of working with his hands brings him a feeling of being closer to his cultural heritage. From cutting the fiberglass rods to sewing the last stitch, each step in the process gives him a great sense of accomplishment. The work he produces is a representation of his people, and each drumstick is handcrafted with great care. Mr. Yahola draws inspiration from tribal colors and motifs in the decorative aspect of drumstick making.
This exhibit will be the first for Mr. Yahola and he is excited to be recognized in a professional setting. The artwork featured in the exhibition may be purchased by contacting Anthony Yahola directly at email@example.com or 405-628-3583.
Drumsticks are made from fiberglass rods, tape, and leather. Historically, some of the first drumsticks were simple and fashioned from dogwood, sinew, and cloth. Over the years, padded handles were adopted for comfort and decoration soon followed. The contemporary drumsticks shown in this exhibit are very popular among singers today.
Process of drumstick making
1. Measure fiberglass rod to desired length and carefully cut it to size. The size can range from 10 inches to 25 inches. Mr.Yahola prefers 23-inch drumsticks. When selecting materials, he prefers flexible rods because they last longer. A more rigid rod will break faster.
2. Mold duct tape to form the handle by continuously wrapping it around itself until reaching a comfortable thickness that fits into your hand.
3. Form the head with duct tape, electrical tape, sports wrap or your preferred material. It is at this step you will determine what shape you want the head to have. The most popular style is a cylindrical shape with rounded ends, another common style is a cone on the top that tapers down to form a tear drop shape. In this step you will determine what weight you would like your stick to be. If you want a heavier stick, then you add extra layers of tape or material. The shape that you create might help inspire you to select specific decorative colors and designs.
4. Add tape to the base of the exposed rod to prep for decoration. Many craftsmen use a flat, thin vinyl tape for the base color.
5. To cover the handle, cut a piece of leather so that it conforms to its shape. This prevents wasting leather. Then, sew the leather together around the handle.
6. After carefully cutting the leather around the head, remove any excess so the ends are equal. Now you have a straight line for sewing up the head piece. If you would like to add decorative fringe, leave enough leather around the base of the head, which you can cut into shape after the sewing is complete. When picking the stitch consider how it will look on the finished product. The most widely used is a baseball style stitch.
7. Decorative tape work can be started in the middle of the stick and layered outward in varying colors. When layering the colors, keep each tape band close together to eliminate gaps in the design.
This video features Anthony Yahola drumming and singing in the Southern Style (0:03 through 1:43), which is characterized by three drumbeats between verses and a lower vocal range, and the Northern Style (1:50 onwards), which is characterized by the higher-pitched falsetto and slower rhythmic beat. Mr. Yahola often performs at pow-wows which serve important cultural and social roles in Indian Country. Pow-wows incorporate dancing, singing, and celebrations, honor veterans, offer Indian art and crafts marketing venues, and provide other opportunities to pass down traditions from one generation to the next. Drumming is an integral part of these communal events. Mr. Yahola was inspired by drumming and singing while attending pow-wows as a child and began making his own drumsticks at an early age. Over the years he has perfected his techniques and is highly regarded in the Southern Plains region and pow-wow circuit for his meticulously crafted and colorful drumsticks made from fiberglass, leather, and tape.
Heartbeat of the Pow-wow Nation