Sean “Rising Sun” Flanagan (Taos Pueblo and Irish) is the creator of this beautiful drum. Flanagan comes from a line of generations that have lived in a five room adobe building known as the Wahleah’s Taos Pueblo Gallery located in Taos, New Mexico. His work has been seen at Santa Fe Indian Market, the Heard Museum Indian Market, and the Autry Museum of the American West, in Los Angeles.
Flanagan began carving drums from ponderosa pine and cottonwood. This particular drum is cottonwood, a wood native to New Mexico. Standard tradition includes stripping a tree of bark, hollowing out a section and slowly drying it to prevent cracking.
Flanagan is known for his use of traditional buffalo, elk and deer hide drums. The hide is generally soaked for two to three days before stretching over the wood base. This particular drum is bison hide.
After holes are hammered into the animal hide that has been stretched over the base, the hide is cut into strips to form lacing to be tied to stretch the hide to create the drum.
This Red Thunderbird honors the traditions Flanagan holds close. “I use the traditional drums as a canvas for each personal and unique design,” he says. “I use acrylics and I try to make sure the painting is strong enough to complement the drum and the animal from which it came.”
A drum beater is an essential element; it connects the drummer to the drum. Drum beater
sticks are made from either wood or other pliable thin rods and are wrapped with leather
beaters. The sticks can contain fringe or other decorative elements such as horse hair.