Mi’kmaq elder and traditional storyteller David Lonebear Sanipass recently visited with second and third graders under the towering trees of the “Piney Woods.” With his young audience surrounding him in a circle, David told three stories. The first was about a bird who wished to gift his singing voice to the people. The next story was about David’s encounter with a bear. The final story told how rabbit came to be from a fat rat. During his storytelling, David played his traditional Mi’kmaq northern block flute and engaged playfully with his rapt audience.
Each of David’s stories held important messages for the children: it matters to be kind, generous, and patient; greedy and selfish behavior can get you into a lot of trouble; and bears are to be respected—from a distance! David stressed the importance of storytelling as a way to learn from and appreciate each other. He encouraged his young audience to tell stories, a task the children will honor later this fall when they write “pourquoi tales” influenced by the Wabanaki storytelling tradition.
David Sanipass’s visit is part of the 2-3 program’s integrated thematic study of the Wabanaki People of Maine. For more than 25 years, this study has been a major curricular focus featuring special guests from Maine’s indigenous communities.