Legacy of Hastings Shade celebrated at storytelling event
Sequoyah Guess shares a story during the 61st annual United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees celebration in Tahlequah. COURTESY PHOTO/UKB COMMUNICATIONS
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – How much a person meant to a group of people is sometimes not completely clear until after they are gone.
Such is the case for the Turtle Island Liar’s Club, a storytelling group that Cherokee traditionalist and elder Hastings Shade helped form in 1993 with three other Cherokee storytellers.
Shade died Feb. 2010 but left behind a legacy of stories, traditional Cherokee art and many friends who share his stories and teachings.
On Sept. 21, the remaining members of the club met at the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees cultural grounds for the 2nd Annual Hastings Shade Memorial Storytelling Night to honor Shade and to share stories.
“We just like to perpetuate the things that Hastings brought to us over these years, so this is one way to do it,” said storyteller Choogie Kingfisher.
The club also encourages audience members to grab the microphone and share their stories because storytelling is about sharing, whether it be a life lesson or describing an event an audience member experienced, Kingfisher added.
“Sometimes, we talk about the legends…or just a lot of the things we grew up with that we like to tell about. We either add a scary twist to it or a funny twist or something to keep the audience captivated,” he said.
Cherokee storyteller and club member Sequoyah Guess credits Shade for actually starting the club after he noticed he, Guess and another Cherokee storyteller, Sammy Still, were all visiting the same schools to share stories and the Cherokee culture.
“Pretty soon we all got into a groove when we knew we were going to be at the same place. Hastings would talk about government and history, Sammy would come along and talk about games and hunting and tell funny stories. And then I’d come along at the last and tell scary stories,” Guess said.
He added the club members, which also includes Still’s daughter Tonya and Woody Hansen, thought about stopping after Shade died last year, but decided to continue as a memorial to Shade.
Shade was respected among the UKB and the Cherokee Nation. He was named a National Treasure by the CN in 1991 for teaching and protecting Cherokee culture and was a versatile artisan who made gigs, bows, stone marbles and carved deer antlers into art among other things.
Shade served as deputy principal chief of the CN from 1999 to 2003. During that time he sponsored and led initiatives to teach Cherokee culture throughout the CN, especially to children.
Guess said Shade, along with being the group’s elder, was an important source of information about Cherokee culture, language, traditions and stories.
Kingfisher said Shade was an elder and like an uncle to him. He added he considers Shade and his widow, Loretta, family. When the movement began about 20 years ago to share stories and traditional art and tool making to youth, Shade joined in the effort.
“Hastings, he was one of those people that everyone looked to when all of that came about. Whether it was his gig-making, whether it was his storytelling, his marble-making, his language skills; he had so much to offer,” Kingfisher said. “He left a lot behind.” email@example.com • 918-207-3961