11th Moon Storytelling to take place at Grand Village

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 30, 2009

NATCHEZ — A tradition that began hundreds of years ago will continue Saturday at the 11th Moon Storytelling at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians.

Rebecca Anderson, historian at Grand Village, said the Natchez Indians developed a calendar based on the lunar cycles. The Natchez Indians’ calendar began in March, making January the 11th month — or 11th moon — on their lunar calendar.

The tribe coordinated special events and rituals within the lunar calendar.

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Anderson said storytelling was always an important part of religious and social gatherings of the tribe.

“This is what our ancestors would have been doing on the 11th moon,” Anderson said.

Preserving the history and traditions of the goal of the Grand Village and protecting and furthering the art of storytelling is vital, Anderson said.

“Storytelling is an art, and we are trying to preserve that,” she said. “People can learn a lot from listening to the stories.”

Today storytelling is done mostly for entertainment, but it wasn’t that way for the Natchez Indians. Since the tribe didn’t have a written language, storytelling was a way of passing down history, science and religion.

The stories will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday in the auditorium at the Grand Village at 400 Jefferson Davis Blvd. The event is free to the public.

Volunteers will retell stories of animals, nature and Native Americans. The stories are suitable for adults and children over the age of 9.

“Some of the Native American stories can get a little graphic — but not too graphic,” Anderson said. “I think it also has to do with being at an age where you can sit and listen for two hours.”

But the time is sure to pass quickly with a slate of talented and seasoned storytellers scheduled to perform during the event.

Marianne Raley from Armstrong Library will return to the festival after a crowd-pleasing performance last year.

“She had all the kids acting along with her last year,” Anderson said.

Also returning from last year is Tom War Cloud Bandaries who is known nationwide for his work promoting and preserving Native American history and tradition. He is a descendent of the Toltec and Arapaho Indians.

“He caught everyone’s attention last year from the moment he opened his mouth,” Anderson said.

Anderson said that attendees are in for a treat because the stories are like pieces of history.

“The stories are appealing to everyone. For adults it kind of takes you back and for children it is something different for them to experience,” she said. “They aren’t your typical fairy tales.”