Boy, have we got a tale for you

Published 11:32 pm Thursday, January 22, 2009

The weather outside may be frightful but inside the Grand Village you will find it warm and delightful at the 24th annual 11th Moon Storytelling at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31. Volunteer storytellers from around the region will come and share tales of animals, nature and Native Americans. The event is free to the public and everyone should come a little early because seating is limited in the auditorium.

The storytelling tradition is an age-old practice by cultures around the world. It is especially significant to those cultures that had no written language like the Natchez Indians. The Natchez relied upon storytelling not only for entertainment but also for history, science and religion. In fact, the Natchez developed a calendar based on the lunar cycles of the moon in which they coordinated their important religious and social ceremonies. During these ceremonies, storytelling played a large role.

The program title “11th Moon” refers to the calendar year of the Natchez Indians. The Natchez began their calendar year in March (the Moon of the Deer) and celebrated the arrival of each new moon. Our month of January coincides with the 11th moon of the Natchez year also known as (the Moon of Cold Meal). Cold meal was a type of corn meal gruel like grits that was a favorite dish of the Natchez and the French colonists who lived among them in the early 1700s.

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As delicious as cold meal sounds it will not be on the menu for the day’s festivities. What will be on the menu is a nice variety of stories from our regional and not so regional storytellers.

Marianne Raley from our very own Armstrong Library will return this year with some amazing stories. She was here last year and has graced us with several performances for special programs. She is truly a talented storyteller and has a wonderful way of involving everyone in the story.

We are also delighted to have Sam Jones return this year. Sam has performed in the Natchez Little Theatre, the Natchez Festival of Music, Angels on the Bluff, Pioneer Days and Pioneer Week at Historic Jefferson College. His stories always appeal to people of all ages.

Eric Glatzer will join the Grand Village Storytelling Crew this year. Glatzer is the founder of the Natchez Bluff Blues Festival and a Natchez Little Theatre alumni. Eric’s experience in theatre and interest in local history is sure to make him a fabulous addition to our cast of storytellers.

Donna Bowman is once again returning from Louisiana where she works for the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Donna usually brings a friend of the four-legged variety that is sure to delight children of all ages.

Tom War Cloud Bandaries will also return with stories this year. Tom is of Toltec and Arapaho descent. He is a talented storyteller from out west who joined our troupe last year. We recently learned that he is moving back west so this may be his last performance here at our 11th Moon Storytelling. War Cloud is a noted storyteller, educator, artist and musician. When he speaks, everyone listens as he tells tales from his own tribe that not only provide entertainment but a very important lesson as well. Last year he was a huge hit among young and old alike and we hate to see him go.

This year’s storytellers are a phenomenal cast from all around the region. They will amaze you with their tales of bravery, trickery and maybe even love. When you leave the auditorium Saturday afternoon you will take a few new stories with you when you go and maybe you will create some of your own. No matter your age, you are never too old for a story or a day of free entertainment the whole family can enjoy.

So, be sure to come early to Grand Village of the Natchez Indians on Saturday, Jan. 31 for the 24th Annual Eleventh Moon Storytelling. The event is free and recommended for people ages 9 and up.

The Grand Village 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.

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