Tales this year at the 8th Annual Northwest Indian Storytelling Festival roamed a world in which bear, coyote, bobcat, butterfly, whale, mountain lion, salmon, perch, buffalo, beaver, seal, wolf, eagle, raven, iktomi, cedar, wild iris, chokecherry and many more of our indigenous characters revealed teachings for us humans. Humans who appeared as fools, as fishermen, as hunters warriors, as lovers, racers, as wise elders and as disrespectful naughty ones. Humans finding their way together with the animals, the tricksters, the many relations.
First Nations tellers included representatives of the Chehalis, Kalapuya, Quinault, Yakama, Coos, Shoshone Bannock, Blackfoot, Grande Ronde, Nez Perce, Apache, Chinook, Dine, Navajo, Ute, Chickasaw. Choctaw, Cherokee, Skokomish, Lower Elwha S’Klallam, Jamestown S’Klallam, and many many more…
Amidst the stories bear lost her two tails, bossy limbed snake was bound and rolled into her modern form with a hiss for humans, whale gifted us with our coastal generosity of rains, rabbit tricked coyote (coyote still is trying to get rabbit back), dog thinks it tricked coyote, (beware the dog that wanders into the woods at night), we heard how coyote broke the dam that flooded celilo falls (this problem has been faced before), we heard stories of basket woman whistling woman, child eating woman and how monster stories inform modern struggles with cancer and diabetes, we heard tales of a heart that could not be stopped from singing – despite being the last piece of a limbless life, how turtle came to fly, we heard the tale of skookum muckmuck and the redemption of a grandmothers artful forgiveness, a tale of how the one who appears to do nothing – in their cry – received the teachings which hold us all in the weavings of cedar, we heard of the insolence of selfishness and the stone thrown against raven which dried the world – and the learning which led to compassion – and led raven in turn to forgive our human failures and return water to a parched land – we witnessed children and teenagers passing forward the teachings of parents and grandparents and loved ones – how children ripped from their people and passed among foreigners found their way back to their tribal families and feed the hearts of the young becoming humbling towering hearts of light, we witnessed young adults emerging out of the question of “what to give to their people” becoming ambassadors breathing life into living stories that connect ancestors to all who listen. We heard a granddaughter tell a family story of love and horseracing and the alliance that lives to this day among the Applegate family and the Kalapooya families that share land as neighbors 150 years on – A story her grandmother told at the 1st Northwest Indian Storytelling Festival. We heard songs from the ghost dances, the water, the lands we walk. We witnessed elders who have been known as the quiet ones emerging with the power of story. We laughed, we cried, we shared wonder that is deep and moving forward. Gratitude’s for the generosity that is the Northwest Indian Storytelling Festival.
Check out Wisdom of the Elders who sponsor the Annual Northwest Indian Storytelling Festival