By Marty Bannan
Originally published in The
Spotlight, October 20, 2005
Autumn has its way of drawing us back. The beauty of golden
leaves and anticipation of the coming holidays leaves us yearning to connect
with earlier times.
Before the Pilgrims, the Dutch and the French, a number of
American Indian cultures thrived in the Northeast. During “Indian Summer,”
there’s an increased interest in the land and the past of Native Americans.
Fortunately, folkways, traditions and stories handed down
offer us a glimpse of these cultures. Among those keeping the flame burning is
Joseph Bruchac, noted author and
storyteller of Abenaki Indian ancestry.
This Sunday, Oct. 23, Bruchac will be in the Capital
District at a storytelling dinner event entitled “Sharing the Circle, an
evening of American Indian songs and stories” at the Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia
at 5 p.m.
“In the circle we can all see each other’s faces,” said Kate
Dudding, co-producers of “Story Sundays,” a series of storytelling dinners that
the Story Circle of the Capital District sponsors. “Sunday’s stories and songs
will help show the face of the Native cultures of the Northeast, both past and
present, through tales and traditional music.”
“Story Sundays” offers a monthly evening of storytelling,
accompanied by a three-course dinner at the Glen Sanders Mansion. Founded in
1999, Story Circle Productions is a nonprofit enterprise created to promote
storytelling in and around the Capital District through literary, educational
and cultural activities.
In addition to Story Sundays, the Story Circle holds an
annual benefit concert caller “Tellabration” at the First Unitarian Society’s
Whisperdome in Schenectady. Storytelling enthusiasts can also join in on the
act, learning the craft at meetings and workshops and practicing at several of
the open mic nights held in the area. Money raised at each event pays for
“Storytelling brings people together. We hear stories from
other cultures and realize those people are going through the same struggles
that you and I are going through in live,” Dudding said, adding that humorous
stories make the quickest connection between storyteller and audience.
Storytellers must be inspired at the moment and play off
“Across the country, there are about 200 professional
storytellers making a living, traveling and performing, but there are thousands
who do it as a labor of love working on the side,” Dudding said.
Storytelling styles vary. Bruchac’s style, Dudding said,
involves looking directly into the listeners’ eyes and speaking directly to
Bruchac has written more than 100 books and has published
articles for National Geographic, Adirondack Life and Smithsonian
“I combine traditional Native American stories using the
circle to bring all people together as human beings,” Bruchac said. “We all have
much in common. We all listen and we all talk. Sometimes we talk too much.
We need to be reminded that we have one mouth and two ears, and must listen
twice as much as we talk.”
The series continues with new storytellers each month
through May. For reservations, call 384-1700. For information about
membership, meetings, workshops and open mic events, call 786-1271 or visit Story
Circle of the Capital District’s web site,