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Classes offer understanding of Native American drum circles

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — Boom ... boom ... boom.

For Paul Knows The Country, a Ponca Hethu’shka Society member of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and Iowa, each beat of a drum represents the beat of a heart.

That is why the 45-year-old man has been playing in Native American drum circles since he was a child.

Boom ... boom ... boom.

“My grandfather taught me how to play the drums,” Knows The Country said with a laugh. “I was not very good at first. But I got better over time.”

Indeed, he is teaching young people the history and significance of the Native American drum circles during classes held from 5 to 7 p.m. every Friday at the Sioux City Conservatory of Music.

Boom ... boom ... boom.

“Playing the drums is like medicine,” Knows the Country told the Sioux City Journal. “You feel better after feeling the beat.”

Hosting classes like a weekly drum circle is important to Gia Emory, who cofounded the music conservatory at 1309 Pierce St. with her husband, Ron Emory.

“Music is such a big part of the culture of our community,” Emory said. “It has the power to bring everyone together, regardless of their race or color of their skin.”

For Austin Woster, 11, playing a drum in a drum circle was just fun.

“I already play clarinet,” the Dakota Valley Middle School student said. “When I heard about this class, it seemed pretty interesting.”

Austin’s sister Elle, 13, nodded her head in agreement.

“I play clarinet and piano,” Elle said. “Playing drums is very different.”

However, Knows The Country quickly pointed out that beating a drum can signify something fancy, ceremonial or sacred.

“Drum circles that were once unique to every tribe are now known to people from all around the...

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