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Offering a Native American Perspective on Storytelling
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Sunday, January 9, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

The Winter Solstice often began a season of storytelling in cultures with strong oral heritages.

With that in mind, the Hailey Public Library is hosting a two-part series titled “Living Stories.”

Dr. Rodney Frey, professor emeritus of Ethnography at the University of Idaho, will discuss “Rejuvenating a Sense of Place and Community through Storytelling” at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 13. To take part in the Zoom presentation, RSVP to Kristin.fletcher@haileypubliclibrary.org

Frey will extensively reference Native oral traditions, including those of the Apsaalooke (Crow) of Montana and the Schitsu’umsh (Coeur d’Alene) of Idaho, with whom he has collaborated extensively.

Frey will discuss literary motifs and historical narratives. He also will talk about how to transform one’s own family oral histories into living stories—stories that can address division and isolation and rejuvenate a sense of place.

Frey said those he’s worked with among the Crow and the Coeur d’Alene have demonstrated the value and importance of story and the power of empathy as the means to bring those stories alive and help connect and heal the members of the human family. Empathy, or what the Schitsu’umsh call “snukwnkhwtskhwts’mi’ls” or “fellow sufferer,” is pivotal to it all, he emphasized.

“The power of story and storytelling is needed more than ever,” he added.

Frey received a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Colorado in 1979. He has taught at Carroll College in Helena, Mont., and at Lewis-Clark State College in Coeur d’Alene, during which time he helped establish a college outreach center on the reservation.

His books include “The World of the Crow Indians” and “The World of the Schitsu’umsh-Coeur d’Alene Indians.” His most recent book is “Carry Forth the Stories: an Ethnographer’s Journey into Native Oral Tradition.”

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