Kay Olan (Ionataie:was), Mohawk educator and storyteller, tells traditional stories that have been passed down from generation to generation through the oral tradition. She tells them in a kind, gentle manner which is easy to listen to over and over again. The stories are backed by music composed and arranged especially for this album by Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) musician, Dennis Yerry. These stories are appropriate for young and old alike.
Kay Olan (Ionataie:was) taught elementary school in New York State for over thirty-three years. Upon retiring from teaching, she moved to Kanatsiohareke, a traditional Mohawk Community located in central New York State where she coordinated cultural lectures, workshops and programs including the Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Language Immersion Program. She appeared in the Iroquois segment of the documentary “How the West Was Lost” which aired on "The Discovery Channel". The Indigenous Women's Initiatives acknowledged Kay Olan as a "2009 Jigonsaseh Woman of Peace".
Dennis Yerry is a Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) composer and the founder of The Hawk Project. He was musical director, composer and performer for the American Indian Dance Theatre; for the theatrical production of Black Elk Speaks in Denver, CO and L.A.; the Native American Day of Thanksgiving at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC and the outdoor drama, Unto These Hills in Cherokee, NC. He is featured in the Ken Burn's documentaries, Lewis and Clark and The West as well as other film, TV and CD credits.
Native American Storytelling plays an important role in the transmission of knowledge, the teaching of values and the sharing of laughter, tears and conversation. The stories that have been passed down through the oral tradition help to bind people together physically, emotionally and spiritually. Some stories explain why things are the way they are. Some stories remind us of how to behave in appropriate, harmonious ways. Some stories inform us of our history. Some stories help us to understand our relationship with the rest of the natural world. Stories bring people together and remind us that we have more in common than we have differences, if we choose to take the time to open our minds and our hearts to one another.
The Mohawk Nation is one of five nations that belong to a United Nations known as The Iroquois Confederacy. Some refer to the Iroquois as The Five Nations because it consists of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca Nations. Later on, in the 1700's, the Tuscarora People came from the south to join and so the Iroquois are also called The Six Nations. But, our word for this peace confederacy is the Haudenosaunee which means "The People of the Longhouse."