Learning about the Wabanaki in the Piney Woods

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.