February was Indigenous Storytelling Month in Saskatchewan, with over 150 schools, libraries and organizations hosting events. The timing of the storytelling month reflects the traditional time when storytelling would occur. People were more relaxed and had time to share stories. Winter on the prairies can be long and with little hunting and gathering available, and provisions all preserved and stored, storytelling was a way to help pass the time, but more than that storytelling taught cultural beliefs, values, customs and rituals, history, and the ways of life. Indigenous history was never written, but remembered, memorized and retold to pass on the learning from the past to the learners of the future. Knowledge is one of the greatest gifts any person has to give, in the act of oral storytelling the storyteller needs to trust the listener to take away the proper message of the story. Indigenous storytelling held many layers and listeners of different ages could all take away something different from a story.
Many Indigenous communities had “memorizers” whose role was to memorize history, witness current events, and identify and train up young people to become memorizers. Many cultures around the world have storytellers, but the since the Indigenous peoples languages are not a written language, the mere preservation of their history is dependent on the oral tradition.
Wakaw Library had special events planned for the last week of February to celebrate Indigenous Storytelling Month, however unfortunately, Librarian Vera Tremblach was called away to a family emergency and the events were unable to go forward. The Wapiti Library in St Louis has planned an evening with Indigenous musical artist Pura Fé at 6:00 pm on Monday March 9 in the St. Louis Public School. The following day she will facilitate workshops with students on drumming and music. Also, at the school on Tuesday will be her partner Max Morin who will conduct workshops with students in art.
Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder