Kay Olan Ionataie:was


Kay Olan Ionataie:was holding her CD.

Kay Olan has been telling stories for about 30 years. It wasn’t something she set out to do, but she became a storyteller. It partially started when she was a teacher and a state mandate had many other teachers asking her for help. She began doing various presentations and people started to call her a storyteller.

She does not read stories from a book, she listened and re-listened to stories that people like the Fadden family and Tom Porter told. After years and years of people asking her to record the stories, she finally decided to, with the additional coaxing of Dennis Yerry, whose music is featured on the CD “Mohawk Stories.”

Kay is now working on a second CD, which will hopefully be released in spring 2013. She hopes to include the stories “The Tale of the Dog Tails,” which she learned from Dave Fadden, and “The Tree and the Vine,” which she learned from Bill Loran.

Kay explained to me that the stories have so much more purpose than just entertainment, and they are also not just for children. Kay tells the stories in a cultural context that teach history, traditions, they can heal and pass on values, and also help us understand the relationships between each other and the rest of the universe. They bring people together and away from the technologies that continue to take over our lives. Kay said she also uses stories “to get my foot in the door to teach other peoples who we are, what’s going on in our territories today and correct stereotypes and misconceptions.”

Kay said, “Storytelling is part of our culture and our culture is still alive. Anything that is alive is still growing, so we are still adding stories to our story bag. There are old stories passed in the oral tradition from generation to generation that are still applicable to our lives today. But we are telling new stories, as well as stories that help us to understand our contemporary experience. When we share our stories, we find we have more in common than differences, and so we realize that most of us share the dream of a future full of peace and harmony for the coming generations.”

You can get Kay Olan Ionataie:was “Mohawk Stories” at the Akwesasne Museum, Wolf Pack, or from Kay herself at ionataiewas14@hotmail.com.

Cover of her 2010 CD.


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