Dovie Thomason and Elizabeth

By Rose Owens


It was time for the storytelling.  As Dovie Thomason and Robert Greygrass Eagle settled themselves,  Elizabeth (2nd grade) and Catherine (1st grade) abandoned me to sit on the floor right in front of the storytellers.  I had enjoyed visiting with these two girls during the potluck dinner at the American Indian Center (Livermore, Ca.).  I had listened to Dovie tell stories at the Bay Area Storytelling Festival and I was anticipating more wonderful Native American stories.  What happened was much, much more.

Dovie and Robert alternated telling stories.  It was Dovie’s turn and she murmured, “What shall I tell next?”

“The Flying Head!” Elizabeth said. “I know that one!”

“Why don’t you start it,” Dovie said. 

Elizabeth’s reply was too low to be heard.

“Well, why don’t I begin and you raise your hand when I get to the part you know and you can tell that part.”    The story progressed and “as he walked through the forest, he heard something behind him. . .”

“The Flying Head!” said Elizabeth.

Dovie’s hand came up in a stopping motion.   “Not yet,” she cautioned, “ We have to build up more suspense.  We can’t tell them what it is too soon.”  Dovie continued the story and twice more she cautioned her young teller to build up the suspense before telling the audience what was there in the forest.  Dovie’s words were telling the story but the twinkle in her eyes, her smile, her  body language told a second story—a more important story.  The mentoring of this young storyteller was more important than the story Dovie was telling.  In some inexplicable way, Dovie allowed us to become a part of the mentoring process.

“Now,” she said.

And Elizabeth announced, “It was the Flying Head!”

When the storytelling was over.  Dovie complimented Elizabeth.  Everyone complimented Elizabeth.   I added my compliments.

“I want to be a storyteller,” Elizabeth replied.

“You are a storyteller,” I said.  “Keep telling stories and you will become a better storyteller.”

A big smile flashed across Elizabeth’s face.  “I am a storyteller,” she affirmed.   Dovie had mentored well.



Copyright May, 2005

Rose Owens



Published in Storyline (Storytelling Association of Alta California Newsletter)

Summer 2005


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