Last year at Great Trail Rendezvous, I was asked when and why I became a storyteller.  Our stories have been such a strong part of me for so long (or so it felt), I couldn't answer.  I answered,"I'm going to have to think on it.

After I had thought on it, I guess I started telling a few stories about 5 or 6 years after I started doing Great Trail.  That would make it from 1996 or 1997 to now for a total of about 10 - 12  years.  I started out at Great Trail and became interested in examining my Native roots and started going to powwows. 

I did run into one man on my journey that told me I shouldn't tell our people's stories because I didn't have enough blood and shouldn't tell them to non-natives.  I stopped telling our peoples' stories, and I started dying inside.  It was terrible.   The stories were begging and struggling to come from me, but I didn't know if I should.  My beloved daughter saw what was happening and started talking about it to some of her friends on the rez. 

One of them, Red Bird, told me that I had her permission to tell stories.  My heart started to sing.  I started telling them again.   Tentatively, as first.  Then with encouragement from natives at powwows, more.  Sometimes, the stories seem to just flow from me.  Like it's not me, but the stories themselves doing the talking.  I've been honest with everyone telling them I know it's back in my geneology.  I've  then been told that my heart is red, and if I don't  tell  them how will our children hear them. 

The people at the powwows I've been to have  been so encouraging.  At one powwow, I thought that I had done a good job, but I asked Creator to tell me if I had.  I had just got done asking, and turned around and found an old Shawnee Chief grinning at me from ear to ear and his eyes lit up like a little boy's at Christmas.  Wado, Creator, I did do good.  I feel Creator has called me to do this so our stories will not be forgotten.

Bonnie Tomassetti