23 Juli 2009

The Story Telling Stone - How Stories Began

Native American - Seneca Legend.
A long time ago, a young man called Crow lived in one of the villages of the Seneca people. His parents had died many years before and he had no one to care for him, or to cook and sew for him.
He lived at the very edge of the village in a small lodge made from bark and branches. His hair was always a tangled mess, and his clothes were old and tattered cast offs he had been given in trade.
The village children were cruel and made fun of him because of the way he looked and because he was an orphan. This was a time when people did not have stories to teach them how to respect and care for others.
Young Crow was an excellent hunter with his bow and arrows. He traded the birds and animals he killed for parched corn, other food and clothes.
As winter drew nearer, Crow had to go further and further into the woods to hunt. One day he went further than he had ever been before. Eventually he came to a clearing where there was a large flat smooth stone with another round stone sitting on top of it.
Crow sat on the flat stone and rested his back against the round one. He laid the birds he had killed next to him. Then he reached into his buckskin pouch for some parched corn, and began to tighten his bowstring.
“Shall I tell you a story?” asked a deep rumbling voice near him.
Crow got such a fright he nearly choked. He jumped up quickly, spitting corn from his mouth and looked around but could see no one.
“Who’s there?” shouted Crow. “Come out and show yourself.”
The clearing was silent. Nothing moved.
“I must be hearing things,” Crow said to himself. “And now I’m talking to myself too.”
With a laugh, he sat down again and rested his back against the round stone.
“Shall I tell you a story?” asked the deep voice again.
Crow sprang to his feet and shouted “Alright, that’s enough. Show yourself now!”
Again, the clearing was silent and nothing moved.
Then Crow looked at the round stone he’d been resting against. He could see a face in it. He realised it was the stone’s voice he’d heard.
“Who are you, and what are you?” asked Crow.
“I am Grandfather Stone. I’ve been here since time began,” answered the stone.
“Shall I tell you a story?” asked the deep rumbling voice.
“What is a story?” asked Crow. “What does it mean to tell a story?”
“Stories tell us of all things that happened before this time,” answered Grandfather Stone. “Give me a gift of your birds and I will tell you how the world came to be.”
“You may have the birds,” said Crow.
He sat down in front of the stone. Its deep voice told him of a time before this one, how Sky Woman fell to earth, how Turtle Island was made, and about stone giants. When he finished one story, the stone told another and then another. On and on he went.
As the sun began to set the stone said, “That’s enough for today. Come back tomorrow and I will tell you more stories. But don’t tell anyone about what you’ve heard today.”
Crow ran back to the village. He managed to kill a few birds on the way to trade for hot food and parched corn.
When he traded the birds with a woman in the village she asked him “Why have you brought back so few birds from your hunting?”
“Winter is getting nearer and it’s harder to find anything to hunt,” answered Crow.
Early the next morning, Crow went into the woods with his bow and arrow. He hunted for birds and then rushed back to the clearing.
“Grandfather Stone, I’ve brought you more birds as gifts,” said Crow. He put the birds down on the flat stone. “Please tell me some more stories.”
Crow sat down and the stone started telling one story after another until it was nearly nightfall. This happened for many days. Crow brought back fewer and fewer birds to the village. The children of the village were even crueler to him. They made fun of him and told him that now he wasn’t even a good hunter.
One day Crow came to the clearing, placed his gift on the stone and said, “Grandfather Stone, please tell me some more stories.”
But the stone answered, “I have no more stories to tell. You have heard all that has happened before this time. Now you must pass on the knowledge you have learned from the stories. You will be the first storyteller.
You must tell others what you have heard, and also add stories of what happens from now on. The people you tell will remember your stories. Some will remember better than others. Some will tell different versions when they pass them on. It doesn’t matter. The truths and lessons from the stories will be remembered.”
“Thank you Grandfather Stone,” said Crow. “I will make sure the stories are not forgotten.”
Crow went back to the village. He knew it was time to move on. The people here didn’t respect him and wouldn’t listen. He collected his few belongings and left the village without telling anyone. No one missed him.
Crow travelled far and eventually came to another village. The people welcomed him warmly. They invited him to come in out of the cold wind, sit by the fire and share their food.
After he had finished eating Crow said, “You have been so kind I’d like to share something with you.”
He began to tell the stories he had learned from Grandfather Stone. He told them of the time when animals could speak, and when the turtle raced the bear.
That night the lodge house seemed warmer and the sound of the first storyteller’s voice could be heard above the howling wind outside. People went to sleep dreaming of the stories they had heard.
The chief of the village sent runners to other villages, inviting everyone to come and hear the stories. They brought gifts of food and clothing for Crow to thank him. A beautiful young woman came and sat by him every time he spoke. She listened to every story. Many seasons passed. Crow stayed in the village and married the young woman.
When he had shared all the stories with the people of the village and its neighbours, Crow and his wife left and travelled to other villages further away, to tell the stories.
Eventually they came to the first village where he had lived before. The people didn’t recognise him in his fine clothes and with his beautiful wife.
The village chief welcomed them, inviting them to sit by the fire and share their food. Crow told his stories. The people listened with their ears and their hearts.
Crow told them, “You must not forget the stories and legends. You must pass them on to your children and your grandchildren, and they must pass them onto theirs. We can never again forget the stories and their wisdom.”
And that is how it has been from that day to this. The stories from Grandfather Stone have been handed down from generation to generation and storytellers are still honoured today by those who listen.
(Source from http://www.planetozkids.com)

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