Storytelling Brought to Life in Tivoli
RED FEATHER WOMAN SHARES THROUGH SONG
Rose Red Elk—also known as Red Feather Woman—brought her unique blend of storytelling and folk singing to the Auraria Campus for The Art Of Storytelling. Her songs, based on Native American ideals, reflected the stories that she recited.
The Feb. 22 performance included stories about the significance of a Medicine Wheel, Red Elk’s personal history, and folk songs to accompany both. “This workshop is about storytelling and my tribe,” Red Elk said. “There is a story in everything.”
Her stories, derived from the rich tradition of storytelling in Native American culture, entertained as well as enlightened her audience gathered in the Tivoli room 320. Each anecdote was designed to be enjoyable to listen to, as well as teach a virtue or life lesson.
Telling and listening to stories is one of the most important and universal human experiences. Whether it be through music, movies, books, or talking with friends, storytelling is one of the ways we learn and understand our culture as well as other’s. “Storytelling is an art form that has been handed down for centuries,” Red Elk said. “It is an incredible way of communication. You can make a story out of anything.”
Born in the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana, Red Elk began storytelling professionally over 19 years ago after finishing her degree in Sociology and Anthropology at Texas A&M University.
“I decided in 1997 to start the Red Elk Enterprises and Multimedia Production Company,” she said. Red Elk wanted to share the culture and ideals of her Lakota and Assiniboine ancestry with others in an artistic way.
Because of her success, Red Elk has now recorded three albums of folk music, a book, a comic series, and has traveled the world. She is the Winner of the Native American Music Award’s Best Folk Recording in 2014 for her album Keeper of Dreams and in 2006 for The Keepers Of The Earth. “One of the things that makes me unique is that I tell stories orally, and I also play guitar, I’m a folk singer,” Red Feather Woman said.
Red Elk’s performances are a learning experience for both the audience as well as herself. “Even amongst our own people it’s ongoing—learning about who you are, your tribe on the reservation. I’m still learning; I’m still researching all the time.”
The stories reflect the culture of her ancestors, their spirituality, and the ideas that they believed in. In these stories are what she calls “spiritual connections with the unseen world.”
“I’m not here to really talk about religion,” Red Elk said. “We as Native people are not what you would consider religious, but spiritual.”
According to Red Elk, historic Native Americans would gather as a community for storytelling. The stories could be about anything from what they did that day to the meaning of existence, and everything in between. “Storytelling is everything, and everything is connected,” Red Elk said. “I started telling stories to give a sense of pride to my own people and to be remembered.”
Red Elk currently resides in Berthoud, Colorado, and continues performing and telling stories around Colorado and the world.
photo courtesy cudenverlive.com