The Season for Storytelling

When I was young, my grandfather would often start his stories for the children with the phrase, “taawn kiyaash a le days le buffloo.” Translated from his native language, it meant, “long ago in the days of the buffalo.” When he spoke, we gathered around to settle into his stories and teachings, feeling a strong connection to our elders and traditions. He captured our attention with those stories and shared valuable wisdom.

This time of year reminds me of his stories. As we all slow down after the rush of the holidays, we start to turn our attention inward. I long for those days of sitting and listening to master storytellers like my grandfather. In Indigenous cultures, winter was the season for storytelling. Each season had its focus. Spring was for trapping and reuniting with old friends. Summer was for planting, ceremonial feasts and dances. Fall was for gathering and storing as much food as possible for the long winter.

But in winter, when daylight is sparse and the cold is relentless, our ancestors would gather together for warmth and spend the season learning the history of their people and the ways of their world. Without our storytelling traditions, our culture would be lost. Without the entertainment and joy of being together, who’s to say how we’d fare against those harsh winters? The stories made us strong.

My grandfather instilled in me the value of this storytelling tradition. Today, I am committed to continuing the practice through food. Pemmican Patty Food Company has recently partnered with several companies that help keep the stories of our ancestors alive. History Unboxed carries Bisonberry Blends bars in its Powhatan Unboxed product, which includes hands-on historical learning activities and experiences. NATIFS Indigenous Food Lab Market is dedicated to promoting indigenous foodways and reclaming ancestral education. The Wedge Community Coop in Minneapolis thoughtfully partners with nonprofits to uplift and nourish our communities for a more prosperous future.

This season, I encourage you to think about the role you play in the storytelling practices around you. Do you support others using their voices? Do you listen, amplify, and encourage more stories? We all have the power to keep our ancient stories alive. I invite you to join me.