Yolanda Martinez is a Native American born in Southern New Mexico who grew up remarkably close to Earth Mother.
Yolanda has traveled down many roads on her journey. After high school she entered the corporate world and was in and out of it for over 20 years. At 22 she moved to Kodiak, AK where she was the first woman to work on a commercial fishing boat. She fished for two years and in 1978 opened her first business “Yolanda’s Gallery & Custom Framing”. She spent eight years on Kodiak Island where she married and her daughter was born before moving back down to New Mexico in 1983.
In 1986, living in Monterey, CA is when Yolanda’s Spiritual Awakening started stirring within her. She started dreaming about her early years, growing up in NM, so connected to nature, hearing the animals call her and speak to her. Spiritual leaders started telling her she was not following her Spiritual calling, that she was a teacher, a Spiritual leader, and she needed to remember who she was. This was not something she accepted right away, feeling unworthy of such a calling. When Spirit started telling her to make drums, she struggled greatly with it. In her soul she knew it was taboo for women to touch, let alone make a drum, by many of the tribes because of patriarchal beliefs. She kept denying the call until suffering a near death illness.This is when she surrendered and accepted her fate. Guided by Spirit she made her first drum and beater in August 1987. She knew nothing about making drums and had no idea of the journey that lay ahead of her.
Yolanda started to feel more confident about her drums when, with no advertising or coming out, people started showing up at her door asking if she was the drum woman. When she replied, “I guess”, they responded,” I think you have my drum here.” She would then allow them in here home, and they would select their drum amongst the lineups. She always knew which drum was theirs as soon as she saw them. It was an extremely hard journey when she was guided to bring them and show the drums at Native American Pow Wow Festivals. She knew there would be big repercussions, so she was very hesitant.
The first festival Yolanda attended was in 1993 in Turlock, CA. Her sisters came out to help her as she was still not well. When the Elders found out the beautiful drums in her booth were made by her, they approached her. Three male Elders came to her booth, were looking at the drums and came to her and asked, “Who made these drums?” She responded, “I, did”, they were angry and responded, “Who gave you permission!” She looked them in the eye and pointed a finger up and said, “If you know of a higher power that can tell me to stop, I will”. They hesitated looked at each other, looked at the drums again and said, “Nice Drums”. This is what she had to go through for the first four years of doing Festivals across the country. After many years one of the people told her she had become known as the “Master Drum Maker”, which brought tears and much joy to her heart.