Tucked under the gazebo at the Cherokee National Capitol, about 30 people - most of them children - were gathered to hear a story on Wednesday morning.
The story was about the creation of the first Cherokee man and Cherokee woman and was part of a continuing summer series, “Stories on the Square,” put on by Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism.
“This is a cultural outreach project that we’re doing for the community,” said Janelle Adair, who served as storyteller and is an interpretive guide for Cherokee Nation Businesses. “This is for adults and children, but we are doing this particularly for anyone who has a free Wednesday morning to enjoy our culture and our museums.”
All Stories on the Square are open to the public and admission is free. Attendees receive free admission to the Cherokee National Prison Museum, Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum and the John Ross Museum.
“We usually get in about three or four stories,” Adair said. “I call these creation stories, because they tell how something came to be as it is. They also teach a moral lesson, much like Aesop’s fables, about how to be a good person and treat each other.”
Adair tries to tell the stories in a customary manner.
“I try to keep it as close to the Cherokee tradition as I can,” Adair said. “But this also exposes people to Cherokee culture - it is alive. If we don’t share these traditions with others so they can continue, they will die and never come back.”
The gazebo actually didn’t have enough seating for all in attendance, so others stood around the outside.
“I may get one of those headsets that I can speak through,” Adair said. “We had 33 for the first week. I’m really excited about this. We may ask people to bring lawn chairs or blankets and I will put on a mic so I can be heard a little better. It is nice that we have to think about doing that.”
In attendance were Grand View School summer campers, who were learning about Cherokee Heritage.
“In this camp we are big on trying to get the kids to understand their Native American heritage,” said Laura Myers, Grand View teacher. “We try to let them hear storytellers and work with Native American crafts. We’ve done a whole tour of the Cherokee Gardens to learn about the plants that grow naturally in this area.”
Each session is 10-11 a.m. at the capital square gazebo. The hour begins with a featured tale. Upcoming stories are “The Medicine Plant” on June 22, “How the Turtle Cracked His Shell” on June 29, “How the Redbird Got His Color” on July 6, “The Stickball Game Among the Animals” on July 13, “First Fire” on July 20, and “The Milky Way Story” on July 27.
For information about Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism and its museums, call 877-779-66977 or go to visitcherokeenation.com.