Why is the opossum’s tail bare?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bring your family and start a new family tradition at the Grand village of the Natchez Indians’ 25th annual Eleventh Moon Storytelling from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Volunteer storytellers from around the region will come and share tales of American Indians, animals and nature.

The event is free to the public and everyone should come a little early because seating is limited in the auditorium.

This year’s storytellers are a phenomenal cast from all around the region, featuring: Joan McLemore, Darryl Grennell, Layne Taylor, Rusty Jenkins, Kay McNeil, Ginger Hollings, Marianne Raley and Sam Jones They will amaze you with their tales of bravery, trickery, ghosts and maybe even love.

Aspiring storytellers are welcome to come and share a story with us. Just remember it has to be an American Indian tale or a nature tale. 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.

Cultures that had no written language like the Natchez Indians relied upon storytelling during the cold winter months not only for entertainment but also for history, science and religion.

Just as we listen to teachers and professors in classrooms and news anchors on the television to learn, they listened to the storytellers. As children we are told through fairy tales how to treat others well we will be rewarded with a happily ever after.

The American Indians had similar tales that taught their children the same lessons, as well as tales about why things are the way they are. For instance, one tale is about why opossum’s tail is bare. Many of us may have questioned it, how many of us have heard why?

Come to our program and you will learn why his tail is bare. You will also learn about the “Rainbow Crow,” “The Raven and the Grizzly,” “Yellow Hand,” “The North Star” and “Coyote and the Falls” among many others.

The program title “Eleventh Moon” refers to the lunar 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.

So, be sure to come early to Grand Village of the Natchez Indians at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30 for the 25th 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 Boulevard in Natchez.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History administer the site. Call 601-446-6502 for more information.

Rebecca Anderson is a historian at the Grand Village.