The Waldron Street Journal
The story continues: Storytellers visit FBHS and pass on ancient Native American legendsThursday, October 12, 2006 By Stephanie Lucas
The deep resonance of a drum keeps time as stories are once more retold, this time to Flour Bluff High School students. Some cultures keep themselves alive by telling stories. They pass down through the generations their tales of warriors, heroes, traditions, recipes, and memories. Recently, Flour Bluff High School played host to a Native American storytelling duo, consisting of Vicki Smiling Water Harraghy and Larry Running Turtle Salazar. These two Native Americans shared with students a little of their own heritages, as well as stories from other Native American tribes, such as the Navajo Indians’ story of creation. Harraghy, a Choctaw Indian and a renowned storyteller, narrated Iroquois, Navajo, and other Native American stories while Salazar kept a beat on a blessed, ceremonial drum. The two later disclosed information about their own heritages and shared memories of their childhoods and stories of their ancestors’ lives. “When we were young, we’d try to get our grandpa to tell us about being an Indian,” Harraghy said. She also said she considered him a “closet Indian” because he didn’t like to talk about his heritage. It wasn’t until after her grandfather passed away that Harraghy started looking into her family’s past to try to uncover more about her heritage. Salazar, who is from the Tsa La Gi Tribe of the Cherokee Nation, told of his family’s escape from the Trail of Tears to Texas. “The Trail of Tears was the United States’ first prisoner-of-war camp,” Salazar said. His ancestors left the Trail and settled in Texas, taking on a Hispanic surname and adopting the Hispanic language and culture. These days, Harraghy works with her husband at Texas Excursions, a sailing school on the Laguna Madre, and is a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Transportation, while Salazar is an established artist, guest speaker for various colleges, high schools, elementary schools, and the like, as well as a “holy man,” performing ceremonies for weddings, funerals, harvests, and other celebrations. “I connect with my people through my artwork,” Salazar said. His art consists partly of artifacts, watercolors, and carvings. His work can be found by typing “Larry Running Turtle Salazar” in the Google search engine. Harraghy and Salazar are also members of the Gulf Coast Indian Confederation, which hosts the Circle of Thunder drum circle every Wednesday evening from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Janet F. Harte Library. It is an open as well as a learning drum, which means that anyone may attend and learn how to play. Along with the Circle of Thunder, Harraghy and Salazar are also involved with other community and educational activities, such as the Learning Circle held in Port Aransas and powwows held in various cities in Texas. Vicki Smiling Water Harraghy and Larry Running Turtle Salazar will continue to host the Circle of Thunder each week as well as pass on the stories of their ancestors and those of other Native Americans.