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Campfire Stories: a Potawatomi tale of a boy, a snake, and a choice

Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio

Each year, Native American kids can enjoy a cultural summer camp experience at the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi's Rodgers Lake campus. Many of the camp activities are built around cultural teachings, and a big part of that is telling stories passed down through generations. 

Colin Wesaw is a tribal elder and leader in the Pokagon Band community. He often tells stories at Camp Kë Gbéshmen in Dowagiac. The 63-year-old started telling stories when he was just 18. 

He joined Stateside to talk about the importance of stories, and to share a tale about making choices. 

"I tell stories that have value to them, because I believe that we don't have a lot of values today," Wesaw said. "The stories I tell are all Native American, and come from a variety of nations. But they all have value to them."

At Kë Gbéshmen, Wesaw carries on the tradition inspired by his father and elders in his community as a way to express how beautiful his Native culture is. They used to tell him to listen to the stories, and that "they're not stories, they're pathways, they're teachings."

So, as you imagine sitting around the campfire, listening to Wesaw telling the story of "The Boy and the Snake," don't just listen. Consider what value can be gained from a story passed down from generation to generation.

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Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
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