Bringing home the drum

While Cinco de Mayo may be the best-known Minnesota celebration of Mexican culture, the Minnesota-Mexico cultural connections are many and varied. Among them are Mexican dance groups in Minnesota, including Danza Mexica Cuautemoc and Kalpulli Ketzal Coatlicue. The Aztec dance tradition includes ceremonial costumes, ancient dances, and the music of ceremonial drums. Last week, the Grandfather Drum of Danza Mexica Cuautemoc was reported stolen, and this week its return will be celebrated.

The Grandfather Drum was made for Danza Mexica Cuautemoc in Mexico in 2002. According to their website, members of the troupe traveled to Mexico to meet with the drum-making family. Their drum was made from the trunk of a fallen tree that was more than a hundred years old.

The Grandfather Drum is part of many celebrations during the spring, summer and fall in Minnesota, including the biggest event on Danza Mexica Cuautemoc’s annual calendar, the annual Chalchiutlicue Environmental Summit & Ceremony on May 20-21, 2011. It was stored in a locked trailer in rented secure public storage locker last fall, and was stolen some time during the winter.

Other items stolen from the storage locker remain missing. The April 29 press release from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s office described the stolen items as:

[A] large traditional ceremonial Aztec drum valued at over $10,000, musical instruments, several traditional costumes, a hundred place plate set, artifacts and other items used by the group in cultural presentations and ceremonies. Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc participates in 50 to 100 events each year, many of them during May.

A May 2 press release from the sheriff’s office, describing how it was located and returned:

On Monday morning Twin Cities Transport and Recovery called the Roseville Police Department to report that the trailer was in their impound lot and had been there since November 21, 2010, when it had been towed away as a traffic hazard during a heavy snow storm. The trailer had been abandoned in the median near Lexington and County Road C2 in Roseville. … A driver for Twin Cities Transport had seen a televised news report on Friday and remembered seeing the drum inside the trailer when it was towed last November, only the drum was inside the trailer at that time.

Jerry Lopez, the leader of Danza Mexica Cuautemoc, invited the public to attend a ceremony welcoming the drum home and showing appreciation for the public safety officials and others who helped to locate and return it. The Honoring the Drum ceremony will take place on Wednesday May 4,  at 6:30 pm at the Paul & Sheila Wellstone Center for Community Building, 179 Robie Street East, St. Paul.

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