As towering monsoon clouds surround the pow wow grounds of Taos, New Mexico, people are drawn to the beautiful drums of All One Tribe, Inc. Owner Feeny Lipscomb welcomes visitors to her booth with a ready smile which radiates well-being and warmth. Jonald Winterhawk Lowe, Navajo drummaker, sits behind her. He is a quiet man, whose friends describe him as deeply spiritual and an all around nice guy.
These are only two of the faces of All One Tribe. Others include head drummaker James Concha (Elk Good Water) who is from Taos Pueblo and Jeremy Huesers, who is Hopi and Chippewa, also a drummaker. BJ Quintana, a young Native woman who was adopted at birth by a white couple, Carl Winters of the Standing Rock Sioux and Casey Jones of Taos are the artists who add to the exquisite beauty of the drums of All One Tribe. And their message is that drums are living things, which must be played to be kept alive.
Working together, these individuals create authentic, handmade indigenous instruments.
There is more to these drums than beauty. They are also tools for wellness. Studies have shown that drumming along with one's own heartbeat for just fifteen minutes serves to alter brainwave patterns and reduce stress. Drumming has had dramatic effects on Alzheimer and autistic patients, war veterans, addicts in recovery and prison and homeless populations.
Lipscomb points to research which has shown that stress is a cause of 98% of all disease! "Not only heart attacks, strokes, immune system breakdowns, but every disease known, with the exception of two viruses, has now been linked to stress."
Lipscomb learned of the work of Heather MacTavish of California, who suffers from advanced Parkinson's disease. MacTavish credits drumming with putting her disease into remission, not to mention the added spiritual benefits. MacTavish went on to work with the elderly at the Redwood's Retirement Center in Mill Valley, with wonderful results.
It is one thing to read these studies-and Lipscomb has devoted a great deal of time to research on the benefits of drumming-but it is entirely another to see the results first hand. Lipscomb, Julia Bortz Pyatt, and other members of All One Tribe brought the energy of the drums to the Taos Living Center where they experienced what can only be described as a miracle.
Twenty-five drums were brought into the Center and before five could be secured (All One Tribe drums feature a patented handle which arthritic hands-or amputation stumps- can comfortably support) in place, the beat began. Those who had difficulty understanding the description of the heartbeat rhythm picked up the beat when it began.
One elderly man, who appeared as the drumming began, seemed somewhat distressed by the activity, stood against the wall and watched. Lipscomb went over to him after awhile and talked to him, and soon he held his own drum and beater. "In about two minutes, he was singing and dancing," according to a letter written by Pyatt. "He continued to drum for ten minutes then he came over to John [Conway, CEO of the Taos Living Center] to thank him for introducing drumming."
"The man then bent to talk to another woman in a wheelchair and then wheeled her down the hallway," Lipscomb continued the story. "Doctor Conway came to me, excited, saying 'Feeny, this is a miracle! This guy has not connected with anyone or anything in months.'" Her conclusion? "I don't even care about quantitative research.
I got to observe up front and personal. I can listen to people telling me about it over and over, but when you see it first hand, it is so powerful!"
The drum has become a tool for the Taos Living Center. "Not only is drumming creating positive transformation for Alzheimer's patients, it is a major catalyst for bringing joy and healing to all of the clients at the Taos Living Center," Pyatt explained.
Lipscomb moved to Taos in 1981, where she "gravitated to the drum immediately." But rather than merely enjoy the benefits of drumming, she paid close attention to the benefits she felt within herself, and began research which verified what she had come to suspect-the wholistic healing effects of drumming. Her tiny, under-capitalized business was born in 1991. But Lipscomb had more in mind than just producing and selling drums. She also wanted to promote and share the benefits of drumming.
"All One Tribe began with a vision of the drum as a symbol of unity and a tool for wellness," Lipscomb said. "All One Tribe began giving workshops the very first year. When it became clear that the business had neither the funds nor the staff to produce these events, we filed for non-profit 501 (c)(3) status for the All One Tribe Foundation, which was granted in 1994." Since then, the Foundation has brought drumming into care centers, produced and orchestrated the Drumming in the Year 2000 global event for world unity on December 31, 1999 and broadcast by satellite, and a percentage of profits benefit Native causes such as the Taos Pueblo Head Start, Oo-Oonah, the Taos Pueblo Children's Art Center and victims of the 1996 Lama Fire.
The name "All One Tribe" recognizes the universal language of drumming. Drummers including Arthur Hull, a well-known "Rhythmical evangelist" and author of Drum Circle Spirit: Facilitating Human Potential Through Rhythm, and legendary Nigerian drummer and teacher Babatunde Olatunji, are two of the Foundations' "All One Tribe Drumming Education Award" recipients for their work in raising consciousness about drumming.
The ancient art of drumming is alive and well. Lipscomb understands why. "People everywhere are drumming. Why? It's fun. It's easy. It relieves stress. It reconnects us with our deeper selves. It uplifts us and enhances self esteem. It focuses us and increases intuition. It eradicates language and age barriers. It's the ultimate community builder." The list goes on.
Donations to the All One Tribe Foundation are 100% tax deductible. For more information, or for a catalogue, call 1-800-422-DRUM or see www.ALLONETRIBEDRUM.COM. email: firstname.lastname@example.org