Native Storytelling -"I am here to educate"

Native Storytelling -"I am here to educate"

As a member of the Seneca/Mohawk (Iroquois) Wolf and Snipe Clans, Louis W. LaBombard was active in Native American activities since before he could walk. He tells of how his mother and grandmother carried him in a cradleboard during Pow Wows, and how he listened to tribal elders and storytellers of many Nations. During his 50 years of Native American storytelling, LaBombard has offered countless lessons in history, tradition and culture. He is a tremendous asset to guests of Camp Casey who are looking for a unique and inspiring?) educational opportunity.

“Storytelling is a form of teaching. The oral traditions have been the way in which Native Nations have kept their cultures alive. They are the traditional way of explaining the unexplainable in culturally relative ways,” LaBombard said. “All stories have lessons to be learned, some obvious, others are more subtle.”

LaBombard tells Native American stories to a wide variety of audiences, from elementary children to university students and elders. His travels have led him around the US, Canada, Europe and New Zealand, telling stories. His understanding and relation to human behavior may come from any one of his many accomplishments, which include an MA in Sociology, a PhD in Anthropology, four years in the military and a tour in Vietnam, but his motivation comes from somewhere else. “My motivation comes from the desire to preserve the oral traditions and also to see the faces of the audience when they ‘get the message’. It brings people of various groups together in a pluralistic way,” he said. “During my storytelling I also bring in some historical, cultural information to make the stories more understandable and acceptable to a non-native ear.”

LaBombard was instrumental in the development of the San Antonio Intertribal Association, which is now one of the largest in the United States.  He taught at Saint Mary’s University, San Antonio College and Navajo College in Tsaille, Arizona. Twenty-four years ago he took a position at Skagit Valley College as professor in Sociology and Anthropology.

“During this time I have told stories to a variety of audiences and areas here and abroad, including work with the Washington State Pluralism Institute.  My story telling has been an activity at the Coupeville Water Festival every year since its inception, 24 years ago,” he said.

“The stories provide valuable cultural information and messages for life. They are ways in which groups of people have developed in order to explain how life began and changed to what it is now, how we are supposed to act towards others and ourselves, what are the consequences of going outside the ‘normal’ behavior,” Lombard said. “The young people of today, and older people too, benefit from this information, and at the same time, see that ethnic stories from their own cultures are important to learn from also. As a good storyteller and friend of mine, Vi Hilbert, who is no longer in this world, stated, ‘I am not here as a part of the entertainment, I am here to educate’.”