Proposed Theme: The Cancega (Drum) and
the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC)

  • Honoring Wolakota (culture) and its Wowakan (spirituality);
  • The Oyate (people) and its Ho (voice);
  • The Makoce (land) and its Cante Eyapah (heartbeat).

The cancega (drum) has spiritual significance to tribal nations. The purpose of the drum is to Embrace, Heal, Comfort and Encourge. The Lakota, Dakota, Nakota believe the cancega is the heartbeat of the nation and represents the thunder beings. Most cultures some type of drum. Tribal nations to the East had drums made of bark; tribes to the South used metal, hide and water drums; tribes to the West have wooden drums; and tribes in the Northern Plains use rawhid drums.

Cancega are normally round, signifying the unending circle of life and the circle of all creation to which the drum belongs. Rawhide ties bind the rawhide to the from of the drum, each Tribe is represented and is tied to each other. There is unity in the beat of the drum. For the Lakota, the cancega had its origins in the creation of the People and it is said that after the first cleansing the Spirits (Wakan Oyate) will look for something like the heartbeat of the People. It was brought on by the animals (4-legged) Iktomi used the drum to send prayers by rhythm using the icabu (sticks). Drums are used by the People socially and spiritually. They sing songs of prayer, love, war and lullabies.

Drums and singers often make songs for tribal organizations and institutions, to honor individuals, and to encourge young people. Families have their own songs that they hav composed to them. The olowan (song) is medicine (pejuta) and is used to send messages to the Oyate, the animal nations, and the spirits (wakan oyate)

The Icabu (drumstick) represents the individual and each icabu is different. Individuals are encouraged to compose their own songs and icabu are sometimes made and given to a hoksila (boy) to allow them to learn, teach and send messages through the drum. It is an honor to give a icabu (drumstick).

1. Tribal Colleges/Universities

  • Northern Plains Tribes: Host Drum: Rawhide Drum
  • Eastern Tribes: Bark Drum
  • Southern Tribes: Water Drum
  • Western Tribes: Metal Drum

2. Students, Faculty, and Staff are represented by the icabu (sticks or strikers).

3. Programs of the TCUs are represented by the olowan (song created at each of the colleges that tell their stories)

4. Host Drum: rawhide sinew pulls the drum skin together -- pulling all of the students and staff together -- and holds the skin tightly so that all of the drumbeats made by the icabu release a strong song that lifts up and unifies AIHEC

5. Songs: are carried forth into the world where TCU graduates live and work, strengthening individuals, families, tribes, and the workplaces of our graduates.

AIHEC Documents

The documents can be filled out using the Typewriter tool up in the right hand corner of the document. Press the Typewriter button fill out the document, save it to your computer. Send as a attachment.

Email the document to or

Mail documents and payment to:
Jonnie Clifford
P.O. Box 490
Kyle, SD 57752

Make checks payable to:
Oglala Lakota College/AIHEC


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