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Humble Spirit drums in Needham

By Lauren Schiavone
Hometown Weekly staff

The Humble Spirit Drum group visited the Needham Free Public Library on Saturday afternoon, July 30. 

Humble Spirit, which set up just outside of the library, offered the chance for all ages to drum, sing, and learn about Native culture. Families gathered on the gazebo and were welcomed to drum, dance, and connect through this unique experience.

It is customary to smudge, or cleanse ones soul, before a drum circle. “We are all made of stardust,” Chief Lee acknowledged as he used the swamp grass and grandfather’s beard plants to spark a flame. Focused on good energy and connection to nature, Humble Spirit gave thanks to the earth for the gifts of plants and herbs for the smudge. The chief then used a hawk wing to cleanse each member of the drum circle. He explained the Lakota medicine wheel and how the quadrants serve the ceremony: the wheel is divided in to four — four stages of life from infant to elder, four animals that guide a journey, and four components of well-being and health. 

Martha of Humble Spirit passed around braided sweetgrass. “I have sweetgrass in my car as a reminder to not have road rage. There’s [sweetgrass] in every doorway in my home.” Found in the wetlands and carrying an aroma reminiscent of vanilla, it is used in Native culture for purification. 

Jay Singing Spirit displayed instruments used for the ceremony. Rattles filled with blue corn, drumsticks and drums stretched with animal hide are almost always handmade, or made by a local tribe. 

The powwow celebration included chants and dancing in colorful regalia. Voices joined in harmony to express emotion through song and dance. Amplified with rhythm, the space was filled with celebration and respect as Humble Sprit honored indigenous women and veterans through prayer songs, or honor songs.

The event was made possible by the Needham Free Public Library and friends of NFPL.

Humble Spirit can be found on Facebook at

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