Thomas Doty – Storyteller

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We Are the Stories!

Winter. The night sky is huge. Trees are empty. There's room for stories. Wagner Creek is solid ice. The air is frozen still. It is quiet enough to hear every word ever whispered, and these winter nights long enough to share every story ever told.

We have come home to this native lodge during the moon we call, "Shoulder to Shoulder Around the Fire." Inside, we sit in a circle. The people of the river and the valley and the circling mountains. Along this stretch of creek, we are here for stories. We are the stories!

Mudcat Woman places a basket woven of sunrays in the firepit. Flames dance. Shadows dance. Faces enter the light.

Coyote and Hapkemnas the creator sit side by side. Across the circle is Panther, his brother Wildcat, and the White Duck Sisters. I see Rock Old Woman, Acorn Woman, the Dragonfly Brothers. I see Tree People, Salmon People, Bird People, Human People. Old Ones. New Ones. The atheist school master of Wagner Creek who talks with the dead. The Table Rock newsmonger with his crooked quill. The man called the Exterminator with his rope looped into a noose. Human rights advocate John Beeson settles into the circle, and he speaks of his life here along the creek, and his exile, and his story finds a home in our home.

We tell every story we can remember. And each night, folks show up with new stories, and the circle gets bigger. This lodge full of words has no walls. No history. We live in our stories ... right here, right now, in this circle.

Eme'tek!iyikikh! We are here, we are living in this place, we are breathing right in front of you. We are the stories, dancing in firelight, dancing in shadows, on these long nights, along this frozen stretch of creek. "Wili yowo...." Someone whispers the first words of another story....


This story is an excerpt from John Beeson – Man of Peace. Performances in 2016 were sponsored by the Farnley Tyas Foundation (Ashland, OR), James Lobsenz (Ashland, OR), and Irmgard Mikula (Gold Hill, OR). Here's more about Beeson: John Beeson's Ghost.