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Connecting Generations Through the Art of Storytelling

Beatrice Daily Sun (Beatrice, NE) , May 4, 2007


The ninth annual Heartland Storytelling Festival at Homestead National Monument of America began Thursday and continues through Friday. It is sponsored by Nebraska StoryArts.

This year's festival features Ricardo Garcia, a professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, telling stories of Hispanic settlers and his own ancestors who homesteaded in the Southwest; Pippa White, professional storyteller from Lincoln, sharing tales about different individuals and groups who came through Ellis Island and about the Orphan Trains; and Rosie Cutrer, who uses her 23 years' experience as an elementary school teacher to bring stories and songs about pioneers and settlement to life.

During his presentation, Garcia shared with his audience that he started storytelling about 30 years ago, telling stories to his children at bedtime.

He said storytelling was once an important method of teaching, but now the art has been relegated to children's hour.

“Unfortunately, our culture has backed away from traditional storytelling,” Garcia said, settling for canned storytelling on television.

More than 750 people, the majority elementary students, were on hand Thursday for the event, said Susan Cook, park ranger, along with another 215 participating in the event through distance learning technology.

The event, funded in part by the Nebraska Arts Council, is another way the monument uses to present the life of homesteaders, Cook said.

“They used storytelling as part of their lives, for entertainment as well as education,” she said.

An event like the storytelling festival is a chance to show today's generation the traditions of their ancestors, as well as a way to preserve those traditions, Cook said.

Subjects Covered: education, storytelling festivals

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