Stories & Songs - About Dane-zaa Songs

Stories & Songs | ABOUT DANE-ZAA SONGS


We have two types of traditional songs:

Mayinéʔ are personal medicine songs that we are given on vision quests by our spirit helper. We only use these when we are in great need of help. Mayinéʔ are almost never sung in public (none are on this website)

Nááchę yinéʔ are songs that are brought back from Heaven by Dreamers. Our Dreamers are people who have died, and then come back to life. They have the special ability to travel to Heaven in their dreams. These songs represent prophecies and messages from God and our ancestors in Heaven to be shared with our people. We have had generations of Dreamers whose songs continue to guide us through life.

Our Dreamers' songs are meant for public performance. Songkeepers like the Doig River Drummers keep our songs alive by performing them at our Dreamers' Dances and at community gatherings.

Dane-zaa Song Language:

Our traditional songs have their own language. Each song has a specific sequence of sounds (called vocables by musicologists) that Dreamers understand, but that have no meaning in our Dane-zaa /Beaver language. We rely on our Dreamers to explain the significance of each song, and we rely on our songkeepers to remember the significance of the songs over time.

Dane-zaa Drumming:

Only men drum and perform at our Dreamers' Dances. Women sing Dreamers' songs unaccompanied and for smaller audiences.

Our drummers use two rhythmic patterns on the hand drum;

  • The most common is a slow steady beat that evokes the fall of feet along a trail: DUM, DUM, DUM...

  • The other is a repeated pattern of unstressed and stressed notes, which is also a Cree style of drumming. daDUM, daDUM, daDUM...

View the collection of the songs used within this web exhibit »

Dane-zaa Songs Photos:  

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