LOLO — The best stories are told in creative ways, and the 13th round of winter storytelling at Travelers' Rest State Park will explore several of those methods.
An artist, a songwriter, a living historian and a professional interviewer will be among those combing out tales of the West each Saturday at 11 a.m. for the next two months at the park off U.S. Highway 12 near Lolo.
“We’re trying to shake things up a bit,” said Molly Stockdale, executive director of the Travelers' Rest Preservation and Heritage Association. “Vernon Carroll (park ranger) did the programming for it and he just sort of took the approach of how humans tell stories in different ways.”
First up this Saturday is Kristi Hager, a painter and photographer from Missoula whose subject will be two painters who journeyed to the Upper Missouri River — George Catlin in 1832 and Karl Bodmer in 1833 — to put their brushes to the landscape, wildlife and humans who peopled what would become Montana.
Session 2 on Jan. 14 features Perri Knize of Helena, a journalist and living historian who’ll dress as a woman traveler to and at a Rocky Mountain rendezvous during the fur-trading era (1825-1840).
Another first-time winter storyteller at the park, singer/songwriter Shane Clouse of Missoula, will present “Song of the Storyteller” on Feb. 4. Clouse likes to turn stories into songs with inspiration from what he calls "the unspoiled and unblighted yet brutal and unforgiving” power of nature.
The last program of the year on Feb. 25 will be an interview session conducted with local writers Jennifer Finley and Ken Egan by Cherie Newman, in the vein of Newman’s weekly literary program, The Write Question, on public radio stations. Finley is an author, poet and playwright from the Flathead Reservation whose poetry book for children is on sale at the Travelers’ Rest book store. Egan, executive director of Humanities Montana, is author of “Montana 1864,” among other nonfiction books.
Back this year are Stephen Smallsalmon and Tony Incashola, two of the best interpreters of the Pend d’Oreille/Salish culture that inspired the series in the first place. Traditionally, the Salish shared coyote stories only during the long, dark winter, Stockdale said.
“It’s one of the reasons we’ve never recorded our speakers here because we’re very sensitive that these stories are not told at different times,” Stockdale said. “You don’t want to tape them and then someone plays them back in, say, May.”
Smallsalmon, who has appeared in a number of movies, is a Pend d’Oreille elder and a traditional dancer, singer and storyteller. His program on Jan. 21 is titled “Traditional Ways in Modern Society.”
Incashola is director of the Salish-Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee. His program on Jan. 28 is “Who We Are, Where We Come From.”
Cost for each Saturday session is $5. TRPHA members are free depending on level of support.
The Travelers’ Rest winter storytelling program is sponsored by First Secuity Bank and Humanities Montana. Florence Coffee Co. supplies the coffee.