The storytellers of the Native America are the Guardians of our history and sacred traditions. They ensure the future expansion our children will bring to the earth by keeping our ancient knowledge alive. Storytellers travelled among the bands and tribes of various nations carrying news of the events that affected the whole. The storyteller would recount the events of other camps at the communal fire after dinner. The Storyteller would tell of brave deeds, coups that had been counted, a medicine dream that prophesised coming events. Medicine stories that kept tradition alive or the latest news of births and deaths.
The Plains indians sometimes called their storytellers twisted hairs. These storytellers wore a small knotted and twisted bun that fell in the centre of their forehead and marked them as historians and teachers of the tribe. The male twisted hair was not expected to go into back into battle but observe and recall the fight blow by blow. The female twisted hair was the historian of womens lore and medicine stories that assisted young women in mantaining pride in their tribal roles.
The storytellers of all tribes and nations are the bridge to other times and ancient teachings. The children of future generations learn from the storytellers and apply lessons of the medicine stories to their own lives. Although the grandparents would tell medicine stories to their children as they tucked them up under the medicine robes each night, it was not the same as when a storyteller of the nations arrived for a visit.
Medicine stories are told and retold year after year to keep the teachings of the people alive. Every story has many meanings and relates to life in a multitide of ways. Each time a story is retold, the level of understanding grows and expands along with the maturity of the listener. The same events inside a story may be repeated many times in different ways to allow listeners to discern how the story applies to them.
The Red Peoples way of thinking is very different from that of other races. We do not tell others what the true message is in our Medicine Stories but rather allow people to use what their individual gifts of intuition and observation to discern what the true message is for them. In this way, the teaching of the Red Race insists that everyone be allowed to learn at their own speed, in their own way and to apply or not apply the teachings to their lives.
The storytellers were trained to allow freedom of thought among those who sought wisdom. In this manner children were taught that they had a perfectly good intellect and the storyteller was placed on an eye to eye level with the twisted hair as an equal. If children were being silly or disruptive they were simply ignored, this put a stop to bad behaviour.
Memory is a special part of our Native American Tradition since our histories are passed down orally, the remembering is an art. Every herb, flower or plant used in healing must be remembered for future generations. Every dance, ceremony, ritual, initiation and teaching must be committed to memory. All tribal laws and prophecies must remain intact for future generations. The Coups and losses have to be remembered for future strategies. It is obvious that one person could not remember all these things or be an expert on every subject. This is why various clans had historians who held the oral tradition of an area of expertise in their memory. These fragments of tribal teachings were passed down to the next generation and each person held one fragment that was part of the whole way of life.
A tribes storyteller held a position in the council of elders. As a historian, the storyteller was called upon to recall past events with total accuracy so that the events could be used to pattern a present solution. The twisted hairs taught how to live life in a balanced manner through the actions of the characters in the medicine stories. A medicine story that was told in a timely manner could end arguments, change the course of a life, bring courage in hard times or encourage the youngsters to take on new responsibilities.
Without directly criticizing the actions of another, the storyteller could recount a story that could point out a trail of folly or fear. The listeners would then be able to discern for themselves. All native wise ones teach through stories rather than point any fingers at others. In our teachings we are always reminded, when we point a finger at another, there are always three fingers pointing back at us. On the other hand the storyteller can gently remind us of our wrong thinking and allow us to correct the erroneous behaviour without shaming in front of others. This teaching art is one way of allowing each person to decide what the story means to them.
Raised Hand was a twisted hair who came every summer to share his knowledge with the children of the Ogalas who had gathered before the Pow Wow before the sun dance. The horse had been used amongt the Sioux for two generations and so raised hand came to the Pow Wow on his paint called red arrow. The Children ran to the edge of the camp when they saw Raised Hand approach with his noble companion. Raised Hand had two Eagle Feathers tied to his scaplock and the twisted hair knot hanging in the middle of his forehead. 'The twisted hair has arrived' screamed the children as they ran to greet him. Eyes filled with wonder the children watched Raised Hand move into the centre of the camp. Raised Hand was the oldest Twisted Hair in the Sioux nation. No one knew how many winters he carried on his back. Even the Chief who came to greet him remembered Raised Hand as an Elder when he was a little boy.
Dismounting in the centre of camp, Raised Hand was greeted with great respect and warm Hau-kolas (hello friend). The council of chiefs was called and raised hand went to smoke the pipe with the leaders of the Ogalala. After the pipe was smoked, food was brought and news was shared among those inside the Medicine Lodge.
When evening came and the last light of Grandfather Sun's rays of love touched the swirling Buffalo Grass on the prairie, the feast began. Everyone always enjoyed a reason to celebrate. The return of the Raised Hand to this band of Ogalala was very special. The expectations ran high and all eyes were focused on the storyteller as he began sharing news of births and deaths, the coup that had been counted and the decisions of the various Councils in other bands over the last winter. When this oration was complete, Raised Hand told a medicine story.
'Many winters ago when the buffalo were plentiful and the only enemies of the Sioux were the Crow, i was nursing at my mothers breast. i was small but i watched the camp and heard the Drums of my Ancestors speak to the people. I understood what the drums were saying and the stories they told. For such a small one the stories were comforting when my mother was tanning hides or making a pemmican.
So it was that ten winters passed and I had become a young boy with responsibilities. At that time my name was Hears the drums because the Medicine Woman that assisted at my birth had noticed my fascination with the drumbeat. Crooked leg my father had been stampeded by a buffalo when saving the life of a careless youth on his first hunt. I was now partially responsible for hunting small game for my family. After returning one day with a squirrel and a rabbit i brought them to my mother and was greeted by the storyteller, yellow face. Yellow face was a twisted hair who had served our people since before my grandfather was a boy.'
Yellow face asked me what I had learned on the hunt and if I had heard the creature beings speak to me. I was startled because I had never told anyone that I had followed my own heartbeat to the place where the animals showed me where to find my familys next meal. Until the sun had died in the west I sat and told yellow face about the wonderous stories I had learned from my friends the Creature beings. i told him how I raised my hand and commanded from my heart to drum Hau - Kola to the sisters and brothers of the prairie. The 'hello friend' that my heart drummed brought creatures to me and they gladly shared their medicine stories. So it came to pass that I was chosen to train as Twisted Hair with the storyteller, Yellow Face. My name was changed to Raised Hand because I greeted all creatures with the open hand raised in friendship.
The storyteller card speaks of Expansion on all levels. You are growing and encompassing many new ideas if you have received this card. See which area of expansion needs your attention and feed your personal fire of creation. Create more and enjoy the expansion knowing you earned it.
Note that the expansion will continue if you are willing to share how you achieved your success with others. Many lives are influenced by another's story. in the good fortune of your present situation you may be instrumental in encouraging others.
In all cases expansion occurs when people are allow to grow at their own rate and with their own understanding. The wisdom of the storyteller is part of the art of remembering. Note that you are now remembering your own personal medicine and how to be your potential.
'Sing to me oh ancient ones,
of the history of our race.
That I may see in my mind,
the love in every face.
And every spirit that came before
The medicine they made
The sacred tradition they passed to me
so the memory will not fade.
Oh storyteller be my bridge
to those other times
So I may walk in beauty with
The ancient rhythm and rhyme.