Recently I had the privilege of hearing a local Native American Storyteller. Roger Fernandes is a member of the Lower Elwha Band of S’Klallam Indians, which is a tribe here in Washington state on the Olympic Peninsula. This was my first experience of this type, and now I’m longing for more.
I love storytelling. Not only did Roger tell myths and legends of the Coast Salish tribes, but he lead a fascinating discussion about what these stories had to teach the people of the past as well as how they are still relevant today. Folklore, after all, are the first lessons ever planned by humans, and storytellers were the first teachers. Roger often accompanied these stories with singing and drums, so I could imagine hearing them around a campfire, long before city lights blotted out the night sky.
At one point he spoke about how many of these old stories talk about basic truths, and because of that you can often find similar stories popping up in various cultures throughout the world. To demonstrate this, he told one story that originated with the Coast Salish people, and then told another one that came from Africa, and they were shockingly identical.
He encouraged each of us to look up the folklore of our ancestors, and search for the universal truths within these stories. I plan to do just that. I also plan to closely follow Northwest Heritage Resources, the organization that sponsored this event. They host cultural events of people from all over the world, and I have no doubt that I will enjoy many more evenings like this, thanks to them. Expect to hear about these experiences in future blog entries.