February 20, 2009

Blackfeet songwriter and storyteller

Blackfeet Troubadour Sings Traditions"You felt the buffalo go, You heard the stagecoach roll ..., You rode your pony upon, Moccasin Flat at century's dawn, The trails became roads, And the roads became old..., We listened to the stories that you told." From "Speak to Me Grandma" by Jack Gladstone

Jack Gladstone, Montana-based songwriter and storyteller of the Blackfeet nation of the northern Great Plains, carries on his tribe's tradition in poetry. Gladstone learned stories at the feet of his grandmother, whom he celebrates in his song "Speak to Me Grandma." He references Blackfeet stories in the songs he writes, in performances, and in lectures.

"The purpose of the storytelling tradition is to reaffirm identity," Gladstone says, and he sees parallel devices in other cultures, such as Australian aboriginal Dreamtime stories: "Blackfeet refer to it as the "long-ago time" or once upon a time."
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native America Speaks at Glacier.

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