Janelle Adair tells stories for Native American Heritage Month
TNE Editor
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Janelle Adair tells stories for Native American Heritage Month

Published 11/6/17

Valeriia Efimenko

TNE Writer

American Indian Heritage Month is celebrated at NSU every November with a variety of events. NSU has organized many events and activities in the past for American Indian Heritage Month. This month empowers Native Americans to celebrate and share their culture and experiences. Many of the events are interactive and it makes the learning experience more impactful and memorable. This month works to facilitate ongoing relationships, exchange, learning and appreciation of diverse Native American people and cultures.

“There are empowerment messages, informational speakers, social and creative events and leadership workshops,” said Raven Girty, Gore senior and Cherokee Promise Scholarship president. “These events show our pride in being Native American while also giving us the opportunity to share with others our rich history and culture.”

One of the events, presented by the Cherokee and indigenous studies department, is Storytelling with Janelle Adair. Adair is a full-blood United Keetoowah Band Cherokee tribal member. She is a former Miss Cherokee from Tahlequah. She has been telling Cherokee stories and presenting on her culture for the past 18 years. Adair is also an alumna of NSU and graduated with a bachelor’s in business administration with an emphasis on entrepreneurship. She currently works for the cultural tourism department with Cherokee Nation Businesses as an interpretive guide.

“I tell stories primarily because I enjoy it,” said Adair. “Storytelling is one of the ways I can continue to carry on my tribal traditions and share my culture with others. I love to learn and teach all things about the Keetoowah Cherokee culture. Storytelling has taken me all over the United States, and there is not a whole lot of us who are storytellers. It connects me to my tribe.”

The stories can give more information and understanding about culture and problems American Indians face today. It is also a way for different tribes to come together and learn new things about each tribe.

“I will be telling Cherokee Creation Stories this time,” said Adair. “These stories are primarily animal stories that explain why something is the way it is. It could explain why an animal looks the way it does, or why something on the earth is as it is or why something in the sky is there today. All of our Cherokee stories have a moral lesson in them, as well, that teach us how to be good human beings and how to treat each other well.”

This particular event has been brought to campus before.

“I attended the storytelling with Janelle Adair event last year and it was great,” said Girty. “Last year it was held at the Chatterbox, and we had a great turnout. Janelle does a wonderful job on keeping the audience's rapt attention.” 

Adair also gets invited to present storytelling in classes to raise awareness about Native American history, culture and heritage.

“I invited Adair to do storytelling in my Cherokee heritage class last semester,” said Tiffanie Hardbarger, Cherokee and indigenous studies assistant professor. “She is a great storyteller, and students enjoyed it. She did a wonderful job on telling two or three different stories. A lot of them had to do with the origin stories of the Cherokee people, and that was exactly what we were covering in class.”

The event takes place at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15 in Second Century Square. It is free and open to the public.


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