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Who may tell Native American stories – and when may the stories be told? How did (and does) storytelling affect the lives of Native Americans? Can stories told by anyone in Native communities - or only by special medicine men and women? Ojibway storyteller Lenore Keeshig-Tobias speaks to the weight of responsibility carried by the storyteller within Native American traditions: “Stories are not just for entertainment... the storyteller and writer have a responsibility... to the people, a responsibility for the story, and a responsibility to the art.”
To honor that tradition, New Hampshire Humanities has awarded Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum a grant to support its Dawnland Storyfest 2019 in February, the heart of traditional Abenaki “storytelling season.” The day-long event will be held on Saturday, February 2nd, 10 am - 4 pm at the Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner.
Native American storytellers are the bearers of history, genealogy, spiritual beliefs, culture ways, and also of survival skills. The stories must be learned by listening to them over and over again, and by repeating the stories until the content is understood and mastered and the skills of effective storytelling are honed. The stories that are told most often are the stories for everyone’s ears – the “lesson stories.”
Native American storytelling, in all its forms, is considered a sacred activity. The stories can, and do, run the gamut from earthy to humorous. They describe a world view that considers every aspect of Creation to be interactive. Each story has a compelling narrative, but also some subtle – and some not so subtle – life lessons. According to Kiowa author, storyteller, and educator N. Scott Momaday, "The storyteller is one whose spirit is indispensable to the people. She or he is magician, artist, and creator. And, above all, a holy person. Hers/his is a sacred business."
Dawnland participants will be guided through activities that model Native American storytelling and given the opportunity to practice and explore this traditional and continuing art. For more information, visit www.indianmuseum.org. Event details
- Anne Jennison, featured teller
New Hampshire Humanities programs are made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this these programs do not necessarily represent those of the NEH or New Hampshire Humanities.