Joe’s Ojibway name is Dehgunn Ninneh, roughly translated as “Drum Man” was given by his grandmother. She gave him this name before he knew he would go on to make drums in the future. His English name is Joe Migwans. His ancestry is Potawatomi and Ojibway from Manitioulin Island, Ontario, Canada, and north shore of Lake Huron. He learned his traditions from his grandfather, grandmother, and other elders from the Ojibway First Nation. His mother had the most influence on his life.
Joe moved to the Yukon during the summer of 1988. That summer, Joe went to a gathering called Indian Days at Brookes Brooke 30 minutes north of Teslin. There, he met a Tlingit Elder, the late Tom ‘Boson’ Smith who was doing a demonstration on drum making. Tom Smith made the most beautiful hand drums I have ever heard and seen. Joe sat and listened to him talk as he did a demonstration on drum making. Through this encounter, Tom inspired and encouraged Joe to build drums. Joe still remembers Tom Smith’s words like it was yesterday.