Posts Tagged ‘storytelling’

A few weeks ago, I was at the 45th annual conference of the American Art Therapy Association(AATA). We met this year in San Antonio Texas. It was my first real trip to Texas. (Previous trips include traveling through the Dallas airport. I never left it, so I’m not sure that really counts.) I was interested in seeing what Texas was like. Coming from the north (and I am truly a northerner, as well as a staunch New Englander), I was interested in seeing the architecture, and learning about the area. I wasn’t disappointed. I was there, in part, to take part in a book signing for our new book, Using Art Therapy in Diverse Populations: Crossing Cultures and Abilities (Jessica Kingsley Press, 2013).

In the first day welcoming Plenary, a video was presented about art therapy and San Antonio. No where in the video, created by a wonderful and creative art therapist, was there mention of the Native roots of the area. There were horses, and the Lone Ranger made it into the video, and many wonderful concepts about our artistic roots, but some how the Native roots of our land were omitted, as were Native stories of the land; this was disturbing to me. One of the highlights of the conference was actually being able to sit with Grandmother Emma, an Apache storyteller and Elder. She had come to present a workshop at the conference, and at the last moment (or at least after the program was printed) was included in the second day plenary; she was asked to offer a blessing for the conference. Sadly, this wasn’t announced in any way prior to the second day, so the audience was small for most of her blessing. People came in at the end mainly to see the keynote address. I was aware again, of the ways in which we slight people, and communities. 

After her blessing, and at the beginning of the plenary, I decided to go out for tea and saw her sitting by herself. I went over to greet her and thank her coming to the conference, and I found out that she was on her own until her workshop. So I invited her to tea with me. What ensued was a wonderful hour and a half of conversation about her past and being Native in Texas. She told stories about her relationship to the land and the challenges she faces ( she is raising her great grandson right now). We spoke about how our children often do not realize the importance of maintaining ties to the old ways, nor the reality of what happens when stories are not told. Telling stories is what keep us connected to ourselves, and our past, present, and future. Without stories we forget. As I sat with Grandmother Emma, once again I realized how important it is to keep our story alive.


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