Arts and Entertainment

A drum circle widens to welcome all to a film screening

A scene from “For the Next 7 Generations” shows what happens when 13 indigenous grandmothers met the Dalai Lama.  - Courtesy photo
A scene from “For the Next 7 Generations” shows what happens when 13 indigenous grandmothers met the Dalai Lama.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

An enormous community drum named Buffalo Heart will keep the beat as Islanders file into the Vashon Theatre on Saturday afternoon.

Buffalo Heart, crafted from bison skin stretched taut over a maple frame, will welcome viewers to a showing of “For The Next 7 Generations,” a documentary film about the teachings and wisdom of 13 indigenous grandmothers.

The film recounts the travails of grandmothers who, moved by their concern for the world, create an alliance and put out a call to help and heal the ailing world.

The documentary, which received the “best of the festival” award at the 2010 Indigenous World Film Festival this month, takes viewers from the rainforests of the Amazon to the mountains of Mexico and even to a private meeting between the grandmothers and the Dalai Lama.

Throughout the film, the grandmothers share their timeless wisdom for a world they worry needs help.

The documentary screening is a benefit for the Vashon Drum Circle, a group of Islanders who gather each month to celebrate the rhythms of life and join in song, dance and drumming.

“The 13 grandmothers represent a worldwide storehouse of indigenous wisdom about the interdependency of all life,” said Kristina Turner, an Islander and board member for Woman’s Way Red Lodge, the nonprofit that supports Vashon Drum Circle. “These wise women have much to teach us about how to cooperate and adapt to the earth changes we are all experiencing. … I think lots of folks on Vashon are going to enjoy this award-winning film.”

The Vashon Drum Circle first came together when a group of Islanders began to celebrate summer solstice with 24-hour drumming vigils.

In the beginning, the drummers made do with a variety of smaller drums, until the inspiration came to get together and create a large community drum.

And so, in the fall of 2007, a group of Vashon women joined with others from Women’s Way Red Lodge and made Buffalo Heart.

The drum is made from the skin of a single bison on a maple wood frame and sewn with elk sinew.

Since then, Islanders have gathered at the drum on numerous occasions.

“This drum is so alive,” said Mary Shackelford, keeper of the drum. “She’s got a lot of songs, big medicine she wants to share.”

Vashon Drum Circle meets at Vashon Cohousing at 7 p.m. the second Friday of each month, and Islanders of all ages all are welcome to join the group.

“For The Next 7 Generations” plays at Vashon Theatre at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27. Islanders can arrive early and enjoy the beat of Buffalo Heart and other drums. Tickets, $7, can be purchased at the door. Proceeds benefit the Vashon Drum Circle, which will make a donation to the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. For more information, visit and

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