Tag Archives: Native American Stories

Once Upon A Time . . .

Don’t be fooled. The little folk of fairytale and fable are the keepers of the wisdom. What’s more, they’re not stuffy about it. Worldwide, no matter the tradition, folk tales challenge the norm, encourage creative problem-solving, even question who you are in order for you to grow into someone else.

We need these stories. Proof is in the fact that if our families don’t provide, we will look elsewhere for them. I have a Native American friend who lives near Taos Pueblo in New Mexico who will not tell a story of the Corn Mother unless her listener also shares a story from his or her tradition. She worries that there are not enough storytellers. She believes that when we forget our stories, we forget everything.

Ireland, of course, is known for its storytellers, as this little video advertises . . .

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Filed under Animal Stories, children's stories, fairytale, Fantasy, Old Storytelling Traditions, Storytelling, Uncategorized

Stories Used To Be An Event! Still are?

Native American Storyteller

Native American Storyteller

Some Native American cultures saved storytelling for the winter months when people had time to gather together, repeat myths, share histories and create a common cultural bond. It was an event; something to look forward to. In my town, the only thing that comes close is when children gather for Story Hour at the public library or when Irish storyteller, Liz Weir, makes her annual appearance in Boulder.

Aditi Worcester, a video biographer, makes a similar observation about photographs in her blog http://savetheirstory.blogspot.com.

“My favorite picture is of my mother in Kashmir. It’s black and white… though everything looks rather white because of the snow. She’s wearing an oversized, black trenchcoat sort of thing… and smiling, well, half-smiling into the camera. Or rather at my father, who was taking the picture. It had been so cold that day that the guide who was taking my parents on a tour of the city offered his jacket to my mother to keep her warm. This demonstrated two things to me.
A). Locals don’t feel cold. And
B). Chivalry wasn’t dead 25 years ago.

But it’s my favorite picture. Whether it’s because of the story behind it, or because it was taken in a place I haven’t been to, or because it was a snapshot of my parents, young and in love… I don’t know.

My parents tell me that when they were growing up, taking pictures was an event. One you made appointments for, dressed up, and posed for, with your eyes deliberately looking elsewhere… for the effect of seriousness perhaps? Or gravity?”

Do we take too many photos today?  I took seven hundred photos on a recent week vacation.  These days, that’s not hard to do. The problem is editing them into something meaningful. That’s also the problem with video. My phone will capture the action, but, with rare exceptions, that’s not enough. The action needs to be shaped into something worthwhile–the work Aditi Worcester has taken on with her video biography project.

Stories need a storyteller.

Glass PosterAnd when we meet a master, we pause, we listen, we make it an event. Try Scott Hicks understated documentary, Glass: A Portrait in Twelve Parts

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Filed under Event, Family Stories, History, Old Storytelling Traditions, stories, Uncategorized, Video Story

Grace O’Mally, the Pirate Queen, and the Lost Story

In some African and Native American cultures, it is believed that events never happened if the story is never told. 

Grace O'Mally Meeting Queen Elizabeth I

Grace O'Mally Meeting Queen Elizabeth I

Grace O’Mally, the pirate queen of the Sixteenth Century, lived as exciting a life as anyone could ever hope, but she kept switching sides. That was a good survival tactic at the time, but not good in a story sense. Neither the British nor the Irish trusted her. Therefore, neither included her in their histories. Her story was handed down as folktale and nearly lost.

Here’s the question: if modern historians hadn’t rediscovered her, would that be the same as having never existed?

Turn it around. Modern totalitarian governments seem to believe that rewriting history is the same as changing events–a way to make to make their version real, even if based on lies. Same idea? Another proof of the power of story?

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Filed under History, Legend, stories, Uncategorized, Why Stories?