Abenaki storyteller and author Joseph Bruchac is this week’s storyteller in residence at the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall.
Bruchac grew up in Greenfield Center, New York in the Adirondack Mountain foothills, and with strong ties to his Native American lineage, but not necessarily in the traditional sense.
“I was raised by my grandparents, the Abenaki side,” he told TimesNews.net. “It was a time when people here in the Northeast did not talk about being American Indian.”
“When I was a child, the one way that people could visibly be American Indian and not put themselves in an awkward situation or be treated in a prejudicial fashion was by being a professional Indian,” he went on to explain. “By that, I mean working in a tourist attraction. There were places like that all around the country, tourist attractions where American Indian people could be themselves or at least represent themselves as they were in a previous century.”
In his home, Bruchac’s grandparents told stories about their childhoods, and he still lives in the home he grew up in.
“My grandfather was a logger, and he ran a little general store,” he told TimesNews.net. “We had no TV in those days — just a radio. And at night, especially in the wintertime, people would congregate in this general store around the potbelly stove. They’d sing logging songs and tell tall tales and reminisce about the past. I was the little kid who was crouched down behind the soda cabinet listening to every word.”
His performances will be daily at 2 p.m. through July 14. Bruchac will share tales, personal and ghost stories as well as original music on the drums, Native flute and guitar. The Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall is at 116 W. Main Street in Jonesborough, Tennessee.