Student connects with her ancestry by making drums

Educated at a Native American private school, student Hope Schenck continues to connect to her ancestry through making Native American hand drums

Brenna Smark, Reporter

Pierce College Puyallup student Hope Schenck has a unique passion that represents her ancestry. Schenck was born and raised in Washington and attended Maple Lawn Elementary School and Sumner Middle School. Her high school, however, was the Native American private school Chief Leschi, and this is where her story begins.

While attending Chief Leschi for two years, Schenck became involved in and fascinated with Native American culture.

Schenck, who is one-eighth Native American, felt her ancestry was something she really wanted to dive into. She didn’t have many opportunities to get involved in the culture when she was younger, and that’s what got her interested in Chief Leschi.

“My mom was just never really in the culture when I was little,” Schenck said. “We would try to go to powwows, but it’s just kind of weird if you don’t know anyone there. But then I came across Chief Leschi and I thought it looked absolutely awesome.”

Attending Chief Leschi and taking classes there only fueled her interest in the culture.

“We had a class specifically designed for Native American history, and so that really got me interested in the culture itself,” Schenck said. “And just being surrounded by the culture really helped get me into it.”

For example, the school hosted the Circle every Monday where students would gather in a circle in the gym. A group would perform Native American dances and drumming in the middle of the circle

“I hated it because it dragged on and it was something we had to do for like 20 minutes each week,” Schenck said. “But I thought the scene was cool and it still exposed me to the culture.”

Her love for drum making developed at Chief Leschi.

“It’s really hard to explain,” Schenck said. “When you say you make drums people get really surprised and are like, ‘You made what? What do you mean you make drums?’”

Schenck drums to represent her Native American culture.

“I get the hide from Chehalis Drums and Hide,” Schenck said. “Then I put it in water and stretch it over the frame and then it has to dry.”

After the hide is dry and the drum is properly constructed, Schenck then paints on the designs.

“The designs I put on my drums are designs that I got from photos,” Schenck said. “But I did it all freehand.”

With one drum in particular Schenck drew straight on the drum itself, which proved to be quite difficult and different from how she normally puts the designs on the drums.

“I usually draw it on a piece of paper first,” Schenck said. “Then I’ll typically use carbon paper to transfer it and then I paint it.”

While drum making was something that Schenck mainly did at school, it’s a passion that she’s now carried into her life at home.

“It was something that I felt I was pretty OK. at,” Schenck said. “My first one was a really big one and my family thought it was pretty cool. I got better as I kept making them and I found out that you could make them at home and it just worked out.”

Schenck soon discovered that what started out being a hobby could actually turn into a profitable business.

“I’m selling mine to my family for like $300, but I know I can get like $500 for them,” Schenck said. “I haven’t sold to anyone outside of my family yet, but if I am able to have a booth at powwow, they will hopefully go fast.”

While Schenck enjoyed the exposure to the culture and the drum making at Chief Leschi, she considers it to be a mistake academically.

“The academics were really low at Chief Leschi,” Schenck said. “And that’s why I started going to Pierce to pursue my general associate degree, and I think it’s really cool I got that opportunity.”

Schenck plans to continue her education beyond Pierce, and even though she was accepted at Western Washington University, it’s still a decision she’s struggling with.

“I’m still not entirely sure if I want to pursue college at Western, or take the more artistic route with my drums and maybe a few other things,” Schenck said. “But if I can learn form line and start making my own designs for my drums that would be really cool.”

If she decides to further her college education, Schenck’s interested in computer programming but still undecided. However. Schenck has also created a backup plan.

 “A second option would be publishing and marketing, so the digital design and stuff, I really enjoy doing that.” Schenck said. “I did some in high school and I just took a class at Fort Steilacoom for publishing and marketing.”

Above all, she plans to keeps her passion for the Native American culture alive through her drums.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Student connects with her ancestry by making drums

by Brenna Smark time to read: 3 min