Have you ever played the telephone game with your class? Give it a try with this sentence:
"A blue bird is sitting on eggs in her nest." First write down the sentence, then pass the word around. Walt Garner, middle school teacher at Tunbridge, VT, has used this game as a way to introduce to students the idea that stories passed down through the generations can remain accurate.
Malian's Song is an example of a story passed down through the generations. In the words of a young Abenaki girl, the book tells the true story of the deliberate English attack by British Major Robert Rogers on the St. Francis Abenaki community near Montréal in 1759. Jeanne Brink, a descendant of Malian living in Vermont, told the little-known Abenaki version of the brutal attack--which stands in direct contrast to Rogers’ surviving journal records--to the Vermont Folklife Center. The only picture book to present this key piece of North American history from the Native American perspective, Malian’s Song underscores the Abenaki people’s strength and fortitude in the face of unspeakable loss.
This story began in 1759 and has only been passed along 4 times. That is because it was a story that was deliberately told from Grandmother to youngest grandaughter as a key piece of history. You can hear Elvine Obomsawin Royce tell this story online at the Vermont Folklife Center.