My new job teaching outdoor skills to youngsters has been keeping me very busy. The school assigns students to indian-named “tribes” of 12 to 16 students to make classes a manageable size as we teach about natural and human history of the region. It is a camp-like residence school, so I’ll sometimes be asked to serve as dorm supervisor. I needed an upbeat story to tell in the dorm as I settle student/campers down to sleep.
My first thought was the Just So Stories by Kipling, but I couldn’t find my copy. So I’m revisiting a theme from my freshman year in college. For a Comparative Religion course, I had compared origin stories from several religious traditions, including that of native American cultures. I learned to love the wisdom hidden and condensed in these traditional tales. So I went to the public library to look for native American tales.
I found a wonderful one from the Ojibwe people, the legend of Shingebiss. This tale about a plucky Mergaser duck surviving winter is rich in observations about animal life in the great lakes region of the United States. It has practical and spiritual wisdom: conservation, resourcefulness, perseverance and courage.
It will be a pleasure to revive the storytelling skills thatI used when my own children were young. And I must perfect storytelling because, despite years of trying to learn, I’m not confident about performing on my harmonica in public.