“One of the most compelling stories of our history surrounds the Indian residential schools following the Indian Wars,” says Becky Walstrom, executive director of the St. Louis Storytelling Festival. “An often unknown history of these schools and the impact they left on the first boarders and subsequent generations is crucial to understanding and valuing the American Indian culture and history today.”
For decades the First Nations of North America suffered the loss of their children to government boarding schools, where they were forcibly “re-educated”
Thomason’s story explores the inner resources that enabled the spirit and identity of Native peoples to survive, and raises provocative questions for all contemporary Americans: “Why does this matter to Americans in the 21st century? Can we learn from this? What must be done that we can move on?” With honor, compassion and imagination, Thomason helps her audience become “comfortable with discomfort,”
“Although painful, it is part of our history and a legacy that must be shared and told,” Walstrom says. “Stories such as this are usually not part of our history books.”
Thomason is a former high school teacher and college professor, and both a traditional and professional storyteller. Her passion for sharing heritage grew from an elementary school teacher who taught her history class that “Indians are extinct.” Her desire to give people a clearer understanding of the misunderstood, often invisible cultures of the First Nations of North America has led to her telling the old stories of her people.
“The Spirit Survives” is a free event and is open to the public. Registration to attend is not required, however it is requested. Attendees may call (314) 516-5994 to reserve their seat. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m., on Thursday, May 3, in Room 402 of the J.C. Penney Conference Center on UMSL’s North Campus.
This event is part of the 33rd Annual St. Louis Storytelling Festival, which begins Wednesday, May 2, and ends Saturday, May 5. During this four-day festival, nationally known and regional storytellers will join UMSL with storytelling activities and events at various locations throughout the Metropolitan St. Louis area. Stories shared are suitable for all members of the family, and most events are offered free to the public. For a complete schedule, full list of featured and regional storytellers, and more information, please visit http://stlstorytellingfestival.org/
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