On Saturday, February 2, 2019, the MKIM will host the Dawnland StoryFest for the very first time. The Dawnland StoryFest was begun five years ago by its original creator/producer – storyteller Papa Joe Gaudet - and was held at the Mariposa Museum and Cultural Center in Peterborough, NH for its first four years, growing its audience size every year. This year, the Dawnland StoryFest is celebrating its 5th anniversary in a new location and under new sponsorship. As the only Native American Museum in New Hampshire, the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner, NH is the perfect location for New Hampshire’s only Native American Storytelling Festival. In its 26+ years of existence, MKIM has become a vital cultural and educational locus of activity and support for the Indigenous people of New Hampshire
There is a traditional storytelling season for the Native Peoples of the Northeast. From the first frost in of autumn until the last frost in springtime, winter is the cozy storytelling time of year. The purpose of the Dawnland StoryFest is to share traditional Native American stories during the heart of the Winter Storytelling Season in an atmosphere that invites audience members to not only listen to these ancient and wonderful stories, but to also have the opportunity to learn about the traditions associated with Native American storytelling while also learning more about Native American cultures. There will also be opportunities for attendees to get up and practice telling a traditional Native American story in a warm and supportive environment, if they come to the Dawnland StoryFest prepared with a story to share. In a way, the Dawnland StoryFest is a hybrid event: it is a storytelling festival meant to entertain while also being a storytelling conference meant to educate. This is actually typical of Native American cultures. Because of the strong oral traditions that developed in Native American societies over the millennia, storytelling became the primary method for educating the next generations. And stories needed to be engaging in order to capture the attention and imagination of the listeners, so they would learn the lessons that were embedded in each story. And sometimes a story has to be heard many times over the years in order for the lessons to be learned - good thing they’re entertaining stories!
In addition to new sponsorship in a new location, there is another first for the Dawnland StoryFest this year – the featured storyteller for the day is a woman. Anne Jennison is a New Hampshire-based storyteller who comes from countless generations of folks who have lived in the Northeastern Woodlands. But Anne’s worldview - and voice as a storyteller – has also been shaped by having lived in many far-flung places around the world as well as the New Hampshire Seacoast. While Anne is a dyed-in-the-wool New Englander with both European and Abenaki heritage (Metis) who comes from a family with a strong oral tradition, she has also had rigorous training in her art form. With Master’s degrees in both Storytelling and in History, Anne brings a wealth of knowledge - polished by 30 years of experience as a performing storyteller - to her retelling of timeless Native American stories. Additionally, six other experienced storytellers will also be featured at this year’s Dawnland StoryFest: HearsCrow (Narragansett), Darlene Kascak (Schaghticoke), Angela Klingler (Cherokee), Sebastian Lockwood, Papa Joe Gaudet, and Simon Brooks as the MC. The very modest admission fee for this event is $5.50. Free admission for Native Americans. For an additional $4.00, you can do a self-guided tour of the Museum. Additionally, farm-fresh fare will be sold in the lobby by Lewis Farm or you are welcome to bring a bag lunch with you. Contact Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum for more information at (603) 456-2600.
Please note: The Dawnland StoryFest 2019 is geared toward adults, including young adults, who are interested in learning more about Native American Storytelling traditions. This event is not really suitable for young children as there will be no specifically child-oriented activities - or childcare - provided during this one-day storytelling conference and festival. This event is funded, in part, by a grant from the NH Humanities.
Anne Jennison (photo credit Simon Brooks)