A Tradition of Storytelling

Tulalip storteller, Michelle Myles.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

For Native Americans, the telling of stories passed down from generation to generation remains a crucial form of knowledge transfer. Oral storytelling traditions allow tribes to communicate their spiritual and historical understandings of themselves and the world they cultivated for their children and their children’s children. This all but guarantees that members of each individual tribal nation never forget their roots or lose sight of important teachings that continue a harmonious and cooperative existence with nature.

The tradition of storytelling lives on in Tulalip, where several prominent storytellers have been featured as part of a library-ran initiative to teach the general public about Native culture and to honor the Indigenous land on which they reside.

Culture bearers Michelle Myles, Natosha Gobin, and KT Jean Hots comprised a team of Tulalip storytellers who shared their craft at the Everett Public Library. The event was part of the city of Everett’s 125th anniversary celebration.

“The city of Everett, including the Everett Public Library, has been putting together a series of programs to celebrate the anniversary,” explained Mindy Van Wingen, Assistant Director Everett Library. “We wanted to include the Tulalip Tribes and honor the Native heritage of Everett and what came before the city was developed. The storytellers offered a great program. We are really happy with the attendance and the visitor engagement.”

The library’s auditorium was filled to capacity with eager listeners willing to explore local history from the Tulalip Tribes’ perspective, while learning about a vibrant culture and community. 

“We were invited to share traditional stories from our area and ancestors,” said Natosha Gobin, Lushootseed Teacher. “We shared oral history and helped the listeners gain a better understanding of the life ways of Coast Salish people. 

“Storytelling is significant because that is how all of the teachings were passed on, from the elders to children through oral teachings, and those teachings were passed on daily. We didn’t have a written language until the late 1960s, so storytelling is how everything that makes us who we are was passed on.”

Tulalip storyteller, Natasha Gobin.

Natosha and Michelle took turns sharing traditional stories, such as The Seal Hunting Brothers, The Gossiping Clams, The Basket Lady, and A Story About Coyote. In each story were lessons learned about living in a good way, instructional survival skills, and even explanations for natural phenomena. 

At one point, storyteller apprentice, nine-year-old tribal member KT took center stage and shared the story Her First Basket. After finishing her favorite story, KT received a loud applause from the audience.

“I think it’s important for kids to learn to tell stories. They can learn and go home and teach their parents and brothers and sisters,” shared KT after her storytelling session. “Kids can learn our culture and Lushootseed and help teach it. Family or friends can help you like the cedar tree helped the little girl in Her First Basket.”

Nine-year-old storyteller, KT Jean Hots.

Native American storytelling has always been and continues to be equal parts real, metaphorical, spiritual, instructional and transformational. Most of all, however, the stories are entertaining and memorable to the audiences who hear them. This way the stories are remembered and passed down to the coming generations, who needs to understand who they are, where they come from, and why the world is the way it is.

“Storytelling means being the example, being the one that kids can look up to and ask questions to,” explained tribal member artist and storyteller Ty Juvinel. “Having a story to tell children, instead of yelling or chastising when they’ve done something wrong allows them to learn in a good way. From stories they learn the values of their people and how to present themselves.”

Ty has recently partnered with the Seattle Public Library system and will be sharing Coast Salish stories and tradition through the summer. Intended for kids ages 7-11, there is no registration required for families to bring their kids to a Ty story time. 

Tulalip storyteller Ty Juvinel.

Using modern technology, Ty has fully illustrated and digitized several of his stories for use on an iPad. Of note, the University of Washington has purchased his digital stories to be used in their travelling exhibits and Burke Mobile for educating people on Coast Salish culture.

Seattle’s Broadview Branch was the latest to host the storytelling series. Children were treated to several original stories, including How Mouse Moved the Mountain, When Beaver Taught Man, and How Puppy Got His Ears.

“I loved it!” remarked Irene Haines, Librarian and enrolled member with Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. “Ty did a wonderful job of being patient with the kids and speaking to them in their own language. There’s such a wealth of art and culture to be shared.” 

Although the tradition of storytelling is less common today than it was many years ago, the rich oral tradition lives on through the current generation of culture bearers.

Video: Communicating Through Storytelling

Pacific News CenterRoger Fernandes, of the Lower Elwha S’Klallam Tribe in Washington State, was on Guam this past week at the GOPEACE Conference held by the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center.

Pacific News Center
Roger Fernandes, of the Lower Elwha S’Klallam Tribe in Washington State, was on Guam this past week at the GOPEACE Conference held by the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center.



Indian Country Today



Roger Fernandes, of the Lower Elwha S’Klallam Tribe in Washington State, was in Guam this past week at the GOPEACE Conference held by the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center.

Fernandes is a master storyteller, and he told the Pacific News Center that his goal is to communicate through storytelling, which he believes is more effective than simply giving people statistics.

“Often today we look at issues like, we look at drug abuse or alcohol abuse or domestic violence. We look in terms of statistics, of numbers or reports and data. My teacher said we have enough data, we have enough reports, we have enough information, we need to act upon it,” he told PNC. “I think that once people understand that storytelling is more than cultural entertainment or just something to amuse children, when they understand that for most of human history 99 percent of human history, that’s all we did was tell stories to one another.”

The two-day conference was held August 13 and 14 at the Westin Resort on Guam. Nonprofits and volunteers listened to storytellers then broke into groups to discuss what they learned. According to PNC, the objective is to go back to their organizations and use what they learn to empower their communities.



Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/08/17/video-communicating-through-storytelling-156396

Celebrating Two Years of Accomplishments

Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center is celebrating two years of sharing Coast Salish culture and highlighting the stories, people, art and history of Tulalip.

Saturday, August 17, 10 am to 5pm. Included in the activities are carving, beading and flute music demonstrations, storytelling, craft activities, a salmon lunch and a special performance by the Tulalip Lushootseed Language Camp students.

For directions and more information visit HibulbCulturalCenter.org or call 360.716.2600

6410 23rd Avenue NE, Tulalip WA 98271

Anniversary Flier

National Museum of American Indian Annual Living Earth Festival July 19-21

Source: Native News Network

WASHINGTON – Join the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in celebrating its fourth annual Living Earth Festival Friday, July 19, through Sunday, July 21. This year’s festival features live music and dance performances, a Native cooking competition, a film screening, hands on crafts and storytelling for families, an outdoor farmers’ market with local produce and game, a discussion of tribal environmental activism, as well as beading demonstrations and workshops on cheese making and sculpture.

Living Earth Festival

Living Earth Festival Friday, July 19, thru Sunday, July 21


Highlights include:

Indian Summer Showcase Concert

On Saturday at 5:00 pm, this concert in the Potomac Atrium will feature the talents of Quetzal Guerrero, a Latin soul singer, violinist, guitarist, and percussionist, She King, an indie rock outfit from Toronto fronted by Six Nations vocalist Shawnee Talbot, and a performance by GRAMMY award winning artist Ozomatli, a “culture mashing” group whose music embraces influences from hip-hop, salsa, dancehall, cumbia, samba, and funk.

Dinner and a Movie

On Friday evening, the museum’s Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe will offer an a la carte menu from 5 pm to 6:30 pm before the 7 pm screening of Watershed: Exploring a New Water Ethic for the New West in the Rasmuson Theater. Narrated by Robert Redford, the film highlights the lives and thoughts of six individuals living and working in the Colorado River basin and examines the issue of balancing the interests and rights of cities, agriculture, the environment, and Native communities when it comes to water rights. The screening is free, but registration through the NMAI website, is required. Registration does not ensure a seat; seating is on a first come, first served basis. Limited walk up seats will be available on the night of the show.

Farmers’ Market

On Sunday from 10 pm to pm, a farmers market will be open on the museum’s outdoor Welcome Plaza. Local produce and game will be available from Common Good, Coonridge Organic Cheese Farm, Chuck’s Butcher Shop, and more.

Environmental Discussion

On Saturday at 2 pm, Tribal ecoAmbassadors will host a discussion in the Rasmuson Theater on the roles of Native professors and students in addressing environmental issues with a focus on work toward local solutions to preserve public health, reduce carbon footprints, and increase sustainability.

Sculpture Workshop

On Friday at 1 pm and 2 pm and Saturday and Sunday at 11 am, 1 pm and 2 pm in the imagiNATIONS Activity Center, Muscogee Creek artist Lisan Tiger Blaire is hosting a sculpture workshop. Free tickets are available at the Activity Center. The workshops are first come, first served.

Living Earth Festival

Friday, July 19 – 1:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Saturday & Sunday, July 20 & 21st – 10:00 am – 5:30 pm

Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian
4th Street and Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20560