Storyteller, by Teissedre, 1987.

How to Tell A Story
(with thanks to Johnny Moses)

"First, tell your story to a tree,"
the storyteller said,"
or a river."

And I realized
they might hear
as well as the woodchuck
ambling from its winter sleep
to its spring den
across my yard.
The woodchuck pays no heed to me,
and I feel better for it.

So, tell your story to a tree,
or a river,
and learn its voice.

(Copyright ©1997 Carol Snyder Halberstadt)


Storyteller, by Tena Garcia, Acoma, 1997.
Johnny Moses is a Nootka/Spokane Indian from the remote village of Ohiat on the west coast of Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada. He is a traditional storyteller and healer, who speaks eight Northwest Coast Indian languages. His Native name is Whis-stem-men-nee (Walking Medicine Robe).

Here is a condensed version of a story told in Skagit/Lushootseed and English by Johnny Moses at his Aunt Vi Hilbert's birthday party, January 20, 1996, at a gathering at Tulalip. Vi Hilbert is an instructor of Lushootseed at the University of Washington. Lushootseed was spoken from near Olympia, Washington, to just south of Bellingham, Washington, on Puget Sound. I've scanned in the Skagit/Lushootseed phrases, in order to present the story as he sent it to me:

The Butterfly Story

There was an old lady and her granddaughter, Caterpillar Lady.

She was told, "What is the matter with you, why don't you go and look for a man who will become your husband?!"

So she crawled away--looking for a husband.

She asked, "grandmother, would you please give me that 'marriage medicine' that is called 'love potion'?"

Grandmother made it and gave it to her granddaughter with proper instructions for its use.

Butterfly maiden saw a possible candidate--threw the love powder over him--he fell in love with her--she kissed him--he died!

"Grandmother, I need another love potion." Grandmother made it.

Butterfly maiden crawled on in her search for a husband--saw a likely fellow, threw her love medicine over him--he fell in love with her--she kissed him--he died!

Butterfly maiden found four possible husband candidates, threw her potion, patiently made by Grandmother; she threw the powder over each man, kissed him and he died. She was widowed four times and as she grieved, her sorrow and grief covered her with many layers of grief. She climbed high into the mountains, stood there and cried out her sorrow.
The compassionate Creator

heard and saw her problem.

touched her--suddenly the layers and layers of grief peeled away and out of this cocoon emerged the most beautiful of creatures we now call

Storyteller, by B. Loretto, Jemez, 1995.

Go to Storytelling, page 2

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Copyright © 1997 Carol Snyder Halberstadt, Migrations. All rights reserved.