Featured artist: David Fierro and his Native American drums
This past week was a special week for me for a few reasons. One of them was the raising of a totem pole a block away from my office, for the survivors and residents of an area of Vancouver called “downtown eastside” (DTES). The area is also known as “Skidrow” for its high incidence of crime (including a high incidence of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women), homelessness and drug use. Definitively not an area easy to live in day in and day out. However, it is where I work and I would not change that for anything. Because there is so much beauty in the people living there. A lot of trauma yes but also such beauty and resilience. Which is what the totem pole represents. I look forward to visiting it when I need strength and peace. See it and read about it on my Facebook page or learn more about the meaning and history of totem poles here.
Last week was also the week that I finally got my own drum! So let’s talk about drumming, the meaning of a Native American drum and the wonderful and talented artist who made mine: David Fierro.
What’s in a drum?
I have written in the past about drumming and its meaning as well as how it affects me (see this post for example). And I have to repeat here once again. There is nothing that soothes me more than the beating of a Native American drum. Nothing. I instantly calm down. Because when I hear the beating of the drum, I hear a heartbeat, I hear the ancestors singing and I smile. Because I know they are here with us. A drum connects the physical world and the spiritual world. It brings us back the traditions of the ancestors, it calls upon them to be with us and support and guide us. I listen to drumming and traditional singing as often as possible. For example, I am listening to this song right now and I am smiling with my eyes closed just swaying with the rhythm of the drum.
The story of my first drum
So the drum that David made for me is not the first drum I ever had. Before I talk about the first drum I ever had, let me share some of the teachings I received from two Elders (one Lakota, one Algonquin). First though, I will say this, in certain cultures, women are not allowed to drum (like the Cree culture). I was not taught that way. However, a woman should not touch a drum when in her moon time. Further, a drum will be your drum if it was meant to be your drum. You cannot force a drum to be yours (it will make more sense when I talk about my first drum). And no one should touch your drum without your permission. It is a sacred object that connects and grounds you. Be careful who you allow to touch your drum as it can take the energy of the person. And if a drum was never meant to be yours, it will become obvious. So let’s see how that played out for me…
So I received my first drum as a gift from someone I knew at the time. It had been painted and had “Best wishes” written in the back as well as painted dolphins. Which I thought was odd. So I brought the drum home and put it on my wall. Approximately 18 months later, someone was at my house and stopped in their track as soon as they saw the drum. The person just became white and said: “Where did you get this drum?”. I explained how it got to me and the person then said: “This is my drum, I had given it to someone as a wedding gift”. The weird part? I did not get the drum from the people he gave it to. Somehow with 3 degrees of separation, the drum got to me and he recognized it. Fast forward 4 months, the person took the drum from me and left with it. That person ended up giving it away. Although I was originally very mad, I had to see that the drum was never mine to have. The person who gave it to me did not have the right to give it away. In the end, it went back to its original owner, who then decided to give it away. The circle was complete.
My second drum: when David came in
I was without a drum for some time until I saw pictures of drums a friend had posted on Facebook. Those drums were just gorgeous so I asked her about it. Enter David Fierro, the man who made all of her drums and who made mine.
David is a First Nations man from the Okanagan Nation, the Grizzly Bear Clan. On top of making the best drums ever (he now makes pow wow drums), David is a healer and a sweatlodge keeper. He understands sounds, vibrations and how important they are when drumming. He puts so much care in each of his drums, to ensure the best quality possible as well as satisfaction from its owner. He makes pieces of art. He truly does.
Such good service!
The service I received from David was excellent. He asked me the right questions to help him understand what my needs were. For example what size of drum I wanted and if I was going to play it outside of inside, as the stringing would need to be tighter if it was for outside. He sent me pictures of some of his work so I could see examples of the pieces he makes.
And if you visit his website, you will see that his prices are quite reasonable, especially considering the caliber of his work. David mostly uses buffalo or elk hide and I swear the hide is just stunning. I was not sure if I wanted my drum painted but as soon as I saw the quality of this dark elk hide, I knew I did not want to cover up that beautiful hide. Just look at it on the pictures! There is no way I would want to cover that! I also got to choose the color of the wrappings. I chose red as according to the teachings I received from both a Lakota and a Cherokee Elder, red is the color of the ancestors. As I see the drum and its heartbeat as a connection to my ancestors. I want them in the room with me when I drum 🙂
I was just so happy when David delivered the drum to me (talk about good service!). His drums are truly exceptional and the service he provides is just priceless. For example, when he delivered it, he made sure to explain how to take care of it (rub it with coconut oil, place it near a heat source if too loose). I did not try it right then as I was in my office where there is a lot of echo. But I tried it once at home and just loved it! Last night I also smudged my drum, which was very important to do for me. As I said, I treat my drum as a sacred object and I want to make sure its energy is positive and healing. It is now ready to bring on some healing.
David, thank you for an amazing piece of art and healing. For others reading this, please visit his website to see more of his work and to order yours. Like now!