Trail Acko is DRFN’s newest and youngest drummers in training with the DRFN Drummers. In an interview with him, we learn about how his training has evolved since a very young age, a bit about his family involvement and his appreciation for the work and commitment involved in becoming a Doig River Drummer.
Trail’s first drum was made by his Uncle Sammy and given to him when he was about 6 years old. Trail was very shy as a child and said he didn’t take it very seriously at first. He wouldn’t sing, he would just keep rhythm with Sammy. But then, one of DRFN’s renowned drummers passed away in 2017 (Tommy Attachie) and Trail realized just how important it was for young people to pick up the drumming tradition and ensure its continuation to maintain his culture. So, from that point forward, he got serious about drumming.
He realized that there were many, many drumming songs and that each song was connected to a story. Tommy and Sammy would always tell stories about where the songs came from and point to the young people, letting them know that they had to learn them and carry on the tradition.
Trail started listening to the drumming songs performed by his grandfather, Ray Acko. (Trail is the youngest grandchild of Ray.) These songs were recorded in the 1960’s by Robin Ridington. Trail continues to listen to these drumming songs to this day.
Trail says there are hundreds of songs. With each song, he has to learn which story goes with it as well as which dreamer each story came from and overall, what it means. There’s a lot of learning to do!
As of this time, 2022, Trail is 23 years old. He has begun work on mentoring young ones to pick up the drumming tradition already. He recently made a drum for his young nephew, Hudson.
You can see trail drumming with the DRFN Drummers on YouTube here. He is on the far right. There are many photos of him drumming below.
In addition to drumming, this past summer Trail joined DRFN’s language training team. He did workshops with young ones in DRFN’s summer program each week. He and Sammy taught the boys about drumming tradition and stories. He did the same with Doig’s youth group over the summer months as well. He has a basic grasp of Beaver language, and shared that with the kids as well.
Wishing Trail all the best as he continues with this important learning and continues to maintain his culture and traditions.
See more pictures of Trail and his drumming here.