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'World Drum’ brings message of peace, nature to Hudson

Lee Hilfiker demonstrates a replica of the World Drum in the dining room of her Hudson home. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Chuck Nowlen)1 / 2
The original World Drum, shown here, was built by Norwegian shaman named White Cougar in the style of the Sami, Norway’s original indigenous people. It has been on worldwide tour since 2006. (Submitted photo)2 / 2

Former teacher Lee Hilfiker is a certified healer and therapist who has always believed in the power of drums.

“I’ve been drumming all my life,” the former Eau Claire resident explains in the Native American-inspired dining room of her new home in Hudson. “As a child, I loved music and rhythms. I was always pounding on an oatmeal box.”

Later, she tells the story of a new neighbor who helped her move in March and noticed her enormous indigenous drum collection downstairs.

“He said, ‘I was just thinking of offering drumming for people recovering from addiction,’ and he asked if I would come in and drum,” Hilfiker remembers.

”So I did, and it was amazing how they took to it -- they all started drumming and kept on drumming. It was like they had a new, healthy addiction, and it was a drum.”

Next month, Hilfiker will take temporary possession of a very special instrument. It’s called the “World Drum,” and it has been traveling around the world since 2006 to promote peace and environmental healing. Hilfiker has been its guardian before as part of the international World Drum Project network.

It’s coming to her again -- from France -- in advance of a World Drum Global Event Oct. 21 in Hudson, which will become the drum’s 589th host location to date. Details for that event are below.

“It was a vision by a medicine man. The drum is so important to medicine people around the world,” Hilfiker says. “He had a vision that the World Drum would represent the circle of life, so as it passed from people to people and from country to country, it would be a web uniting us for the same vision and purpose -– which is peace among all people.

“As we beat the drum, it’s the heartbeat for all of us, and it tunes us in to Mother Earth and its survival. Our own survival depends on nature and the survival of our Earth Mother.”

A healer’s calling

For years, Hilfiker has been traveling the world herself to expand her healing and teaching skills. In addition to being a licensed counselor and art and hypnotherapist, as well as a Healing Touch and Reiki practitioner, she’s now a certified shaman healer after learning from masters in the Andes Mountains, the Amazon, Mexico and Ecuador.

“The spirit of Mother Nature called me, and I had to listen to it,” she says.

The World Drum is also special to Hilfiker because it was made by a noted Norwegian shaman named White Cougar in the style of Norway’s original indigenous people, the Sami, of Lapland. Hilfiker’s great-grandmother was Sami, and her ways were a key part of her great-granddaughter’s upbringing.

“She was my dad’s grandmother. She made a big impact on him in appreciating nature and rhythm,” Hilfiker says.

On Oct. 21 –- one month to the day after the United Nation’s International Day of Peace celebration –- Hilfiker will lead the local World Drum Global Event from 6 to 8 p.m. at Healing Waters Health Center, 2705 Enloe St. in the St. Croix Business Park.

She’s already been there to prepare the Healing Waters site for the ceremony.

“I weeded out part of the grounds and created a medicine wheel, a circular gathering spot,” Hilfiker notes. “Some people have said to me, ‘I’d like to come. Can my 7-year-old come too?’ I tell them, ‘Of course. This is about their future.’”

Hilfiker will lead group drumming and other ceremonies. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own drums, rattles “and/or any other musical instrument that calls to you,” but Hilfiker will also bring part of her own collection for people who come empty-handed.

“There will be a fire ceremony designed to release participants’ meditations and prayers,” she adds. “The ashes will be kept after they cool down. Anyone who wants some ashes can take them as a blessing and protection. That’s from an old tradition as well.”

A free-will donation will be appreciated, but, frankly, whether or not people pay it is the furthest thing from Hilfiker’s mind.

“This is totally nonprofit for me. Donations help pay for shipping and other things, but I do not make a profit,” she says.

To RSVP, which is requested, or for more information, email Hilfiker at or call (715) 808-8453. You can also check out Hilfiker’s website, or call Healing Waters at (715) 381-8123.

She expects the World Drum to arrive by Oct. 15, and while it’s here, Hilfiker is available for other healing ceremonies, school presentations and other events if she can find time on her calendar. The drum is scheduled to move to Brazil Oct. 27.

Another event is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 18 at Pavilion A on Picnic Island at Ft. Snelling State Park. RSVPs are requested for that ceremony as well.

Chuck Nowlen

Chuck Nowlen joined the Star-Observer team as a business, township and general-assignment reporter in April, 2014 after a three-decade career in newspapers and magazines, and as a newsroom-management/business-planning consultant.

(715) 808-8286