Storyteller tells Culture of Native Americans

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Many cultures have practiced the art of storytelling and the stories are passed on to many generations.

Wednesday, April 04, 2001

Many cultures have practiced the art of storytelling and the stories are passed on to many generations.

Email newsletter signup

Last night, audience members at the Ohio University Southern Campus heard the stories that have been passed through time by the Haudenosaunee people.

Greg "Big House" Hooper, or Kwen-Le-Oveh, a member of the Mohawk tribe of the Iroquois Nation, has been story telling since his days in the Boy Scouts. He said story telling is an extension of his job as a healer. The traditional stories Big House tells weaves together the fabric of life, natural science and religion.

Telling the stories for a living, though, came by chance. Before going on the road, Hooper worked construction jobs as an iron worker and one day while speaking he was approached by a representative from the Smithsonian Institute.

"One day, a lady from the Smithsonian Institute asked me to go to Washington D.C. and tell stories on the Mall. I thought it was for free but after it was over, she handed me a check for speaking."

He said he was a bit surprised at the amount he was paid and after retiring from iron working, he and his wife started traveling across the country speaking at events like the one hosted by the Ironton Co-Operative Club.

Hooper said he was raised with the stories he now tells. Hooper spent his childhood on the St. Regis Indian Reservation which is partly located in New York state and Quebec, Canada.

"When I was young my grandparents and parents told me stories all of the time," he said. "When I started researching stories to tell during my presentation, I went to the Smithsonian and found the exact same stories I was told as a child. The newest story I tell is about 1,000 years old and the oldest story is easily traced back 3,000 years."

To remain authentic, Hooper researched sketches and drawings of the Iroquois people. He designed his clothing and his hairstyle after the people in the drawings.

Last year, Hooper said he spoke to over 72,000 people and traveled over 100,000 miles. He said he feels fortunate to be able to tell his people’s stories and his treks across the country allow him to "meet a lot of great people and see a lot of things."