The Story-Telling Stone
This is a Native American Senecan story, adapted by Gill, from Oban's Myths & Legends
A boy called Crow lived at the edge of his village without parents or aunts or uncles or even big brothers or sisters. He was all alone. His home was made from bark and branches. Because he had no-one to care for him, his hair was always tangled and his clothes were always tattered.
He didn’t have any friends because the children chose to laugh at his life instead of be kind to him. They hadn’t learnt from stories or myths or legends or fables about the importance of kindness or love or any of that stuff, because this was a time before stories, if you can imagine such a thing.
Crow was an excellent hunter. He had a bow and arrows and this is how he lived. When he had hunted more than he needed for food, he would trade the food for other things, like clothes.
Winter would soon be here and the animals were going into hibernation. Every day, Crow noticed that he had to go deeper and deeper into the woods. One day he arrived in a clearing where a large, flat, smooth stone seemed to squat in the middle. It had another round stone resting, like a chair-back, on top.
Crow needed a rest so he sat on the stones and put down the birds he’d killed. He closed his eyes.
“Shall I tell you a story?” asked a deep rumbling voice.
Crow jumped up and looked around but there was no-one there. “Who’s there?” he shouted. “Come out and show yourself.” But the clearing was silent.
“I must be hearing things,” Crow said to himself so he smiled and sat back down again on the stone.
“Shall I tell you a story?” asked the deep voice again.
Crow sprang to his feet and shouted “Stop! Who are you?!” But again, nothing moved. Then Crow’s eye caught sight of something strange on the stone. He could see a face in it. It was smiling at him!
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I am Grandfather Stone. I’ve been here since time began,” answered the stone.
“Shall I tell you a story?”
“What is a story?” asked Crow.
“Stories tell us about things that happened,” said Grandfather Stone. “Give me a gift - give me your birds and I will tell you how the world came to be.”
“Gosh, alright then,” said Crow and he sat down in front of the stone.
Its deep voice told him of long long ago, how the Sky fell to earth, how the earth Island was made, and all about stone giants. When he finished one story, the stone told another and then another. On and on and on until the sun began to set and the wood became dark. “That’s enough for today,” said Grandfather Stone. “Come back tomorrow and I will tell you more. But don’t tell a soul.”
Crow ran back to the village. He managed to kill a few more birds on the way to trade for hot food and parched corn. A woman in the village asked him, “Why have you brought back so few birds today?” and Crow just told her that winter was making it harder to hunt.
Early the next morning, Crow returned to the woods. He hunted again, then rushed back to the clearing. “Grandfather Stone, I’ve brought you more birds as gifts! Please tell me more stories.” And Grandfather Stone spend the rest of the day telling stories until the night was almost upon them.
Every day, Crow brought back fewer and fewer birds. The children of the village were even crueler than before, saying he wasn’t even a good hunter any more.
One day when Crow reached the clearing and placed his gifts down, Grandfather Stone said to him, “I have no more stories to tell. You have heard all that has happened before this time. Now you must pass on the knowledge you have learned from the stories. You will be the first human storyteller.
“You must tell others what you have heard, and also add stories of what happens from now on. People will remember your stories, some better than others. Some will tell different versions, and that doesn’t matter. The truths and lessons inside the stories will be remembered.”
“Thank you Grandfather Stone,” said Crow. “I will make sure the stories are not forgotten.”
Crow went home and he knew it was time to move on. No-one was kind to him here and that meant that they wouldn’t listen. He collected his things and left without telling anyone. No one missed him.
Eventually, Crow reached another village. The people welcomed him warmly. They invited him to come in out of the cold wind, sit by the fire and share their food. After he had finished eating Crow said, “You have been so kind I’d like to share something with you.”
He began to tell the stories he had learned from Grandfather Stone. He told them of the time when animals could speak, and when the turtle raced the bear. That night the lodge house seemed warmer and the sound of the first storyteller’s voice could be heard above the howling wind outside. People went to sleep dreaming of the stories they had heard.
The chief of the village sent invitations to other villages, inviting everyone to hear Crow’s stories. They brought gifts of food and clothing to thank him. A beautiful young woman came and sat by him every time he spoke. She listened to every story. Many years passed, Crow stayed in the village and they married.
It took a long time, but when Crow had shared all his stories with these villages, he and his wife left and travelled to share stories with other villages further away.
Then one day, they arrived at the village where Crow had grown up. No-one recognises him in his nice clothes, with his clever, kind wife. The village chief welcomed them, inviting them to sit by the fire and share their food.
Crow told his stories. The people listened with their ears and their hearts. Crow told them, “You must not forget the stories and legends. You must pass them on to your children and your grandchildren, and they must pass them onto theirs. We can never again forget the stories and their wisdom.”
And that is how it has been from that day to this. The stories from Grandfather Stone have been handed down from generation to generation and storytellers are still honoured today by people like us, who tell them and who listen.
1. Every story has 7 steps - look at the poster! (also on the website)
2. Here are 7 bags - one for each of the 7 steps. Inside each bag are the steps 1,2,3,4,5, 6 or 7 for every story that we’ve heard at Story Circle this term
3. Someone pick any step 1 from Bag 1 and read it out: “Once upon a time, there was a story star…”
4. Continue making the story with random, mixed up steps, from each bag in turn to make our own, unique silly stories!