Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Wisdom of the Elders 10th Annual Storytelling Festival in Portland, OR and it was such a great cultural experience. Being a first time attendee, I was not quite sure what to expect. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. From the moment I walked in, I felt the spirit of stories and their importance to the community. It was quite refreshing and eye-opening to see so many different tribes represented in the program and performing. The night began with drumming and an opening prayer followed by stories from Emerging Native American Storytellers. The stories ranged from creation stories to pourquoi & trickster tales (my favorite)!
After a brief intermission, the spirit of telling called for an unscheduled performance from a teller in the audience. She told a story of her grandmother and the challenges she faced in preserving the language and culture of her tribe. This was one of the more moving components of the festival as she played the drum while singing a tribute to her ancestor. Finishing up the evening of telling were two seasoned tellers, Toby Joseph who told insightful personal stories and Woodrow Morrison who gave us a short version of story he usually takes 7 days to tell! Wow!
And to end the evening, we saw a glimpse of the future when a praise song was performed by two young tellers of the next generation.
What I left with was a greater appreciation of Native American Storytelling and its continued importance in preserving the Native American culture and history here in the Pacific Northwest.