Native American narratives

By Mathilda Zimmerman

NEWS Reporter




oday, Mercersburg is home to students from a diverse array of cultures, a fact that deserves to be celebrated in our community. This is especially true with the 100th anniversary of Charles McGillberry, Mercersburg’s first Native American student.

In light of this event, our school came together to recognize the McGillberry’s Choctaw culture by serving Native American traditional foods and showcasing native practices. On this occasion, tribal community liaison for the Choctaw nation Joseph Wolf recited Native American folk stories as a part of what has been a growing offering of spoken words events on Mercersburg’s campus.

Traditional stories exhibit and perpetuate the values and customs of a culture. Wolf’s Native American stories were typically passed along from generation to generation as oral tradition, so in this case especially, stories are told as lessons for life. Morals are drawn from these teachings, so familiarity with traditional stories can be a window into life within a culture.

Shannon Fan ‘20 commented, “The stories definitely show community, since the stories have been passed down from elders, and that family is a huge part of [the speaker’s] life.” Students also noticed that the stories were told in way that seemed unconventional to them. “It’s really important because even if you don’t necessarily know completely, it is important to understand how people live,” Zoe Gooch ‘20 said. Understanding breeds tolerance and lays the groundwork for coexistence and mutual respect.

This concept comes back to Mercersburg’s own values, particularly that of diversity. Art is especially essential in telling our communal story and including those of all of our members, past and present. Mercersburg continues to express a welcoming support for students of all cultures through events such as Native American storytelling and creates a community of acceptance, curiosity, and open-mindedness.

Posted in: Arts

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