Storytelling to take center stage at village

Published 12:01 am Friday, January 25, 2008

As the years pass and time changes everything, there is one constant in every culture worldwide: stories and storytelling. Storytelling formats today range from television and movies, novels and newspapers, simple phone calls and my personal favorite, gatherings of close family and friends. I would like to invite you to just such a storytelling, the 23rd annual 11th Moon Storytelling program.

The program title “11th Moon” refers to the calendar year of the Natchez Indians. Our month of January coincides with the 11th moon of the Natchez year. The Natchez began their calendar year in March (the Moon of the Deer) and celebrated the arrival of each full moon. They coordinated their important religious and social ceremonies with the annual cycle of lunar phases. During these ceremonies storytelling played a large role.

The 11th Moon Storytelling program commemorates the importance of storytelling among Native Americans. Lacking a written language, groups such as the Natchez Indians used storytelling to pass on religious and social information from one generation to the next. The storytelling sessions also served to bind the generations together. Native Americans possessed extraordinary oratory skills and valued the ability to listen intently to stories and commit them to memory.

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So, everyone in the Miss-Lou ages 9 and up come to the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. The program will be in the museum auditorium; admission is free and seating is limited. Old friends and new are gathering again for this wonderful event to share tales about nature and wonderful Native American myths and legends. Among this year’s volunteer storytellers are Sam Jones, Donna Bowman, Melodia White, Marianne Raley and Tom War Cloud Banderies.

The Grand Village of the Natchez Indians is a National Historic Landmark located at 400 Jefferson Davis Blvd. in Natchez. The site is administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Call 601-446-6502 for more information.

Becky Anderson is a historian at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians.