CODY HAMMER / Osage News
Submitted by Cole Burris [Pawhuska District Drumkeeper 2019 - present]

Hi, my name is Cole Burris, I am the Pawhuska Drumkeeper. I have been my district’s Drumkeeper since 2019, but I have danced for 14 years of my 18. Being a drumkeeper means that I get to the dances first and leave last, I provide food and make sure everyone in my district is welcomed to dress and eat. I lead my district into the dances and receive gifts when more people want to dance. The dances are a traditional ceremony Osages hold every year in June typically, this has been a tradition for hundreds of years. There are only three Drumkeepers, the Grayhorse Drumkeeper, Hominy Drumkeeper, and Pawhuska Drumkeeper. Each Drumkeeper and his family are in charge of their district, they decide who gets to be on their committee, who should be their people in charge, and who should be the Waterboys. The Drumkeepers are a very important part of our dances.

My experiences being Drumkeeper so far have been busy to say the least, there is a lot of responsibility and work to be done. I must dance all four days in each district because when someone goes in to dance after getting named and showing that they are Osage, they pay respects to the Drumkeepers by giving them a traditional blanket called a Pendleton because they will dance in their district. A Drumkeeper has more responsibilities than just those in June, we have to take care of passings if someone on our committee passes away, we must prepare food in the leading months into June, and we must pay off the drum the year after receiving it. The work to become a Drumkeeper has been a long road of being disciplined enough to go to the dances even though I didn’t need to do so. I can’t say I did it all, my parents helped me dress, drove me and pushed me to dance and become a Waterboy for the Drumkeeper before me. After four years of dancing as a Waterboy, the Drumkeeper passed the drum onto me. Becoming a Drumkeeper isn’t just luck, it is hard work, dancing when not many people would.

To be a Drumkeeper means a lot because not only do you have the title, you also have the ability to decide the committee and the respect from people who know who you are. Being a Drumkeeper you also will go down in history, everybody will remember you, not only your district either, people from other districts can remember when they were little and you were the other Drumkeeper. You’re a Drumkeeper for however many years your family wants you to be – the years vary between 4-10 year, but you will always be one of the Drumkeepers.

Image: CODY HAMMER / Osage News