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Wes Fineday - Storyteller In The Old Tradition

Deanna Wuttunee

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      FEBRUARY/MARCH 1986      p49  
Wes Fineday, 38, is a storyteller in the old tradition. He has been collecting stories for several years, once living in one area of Northern Saskatchewan for four years. In an age where there is a mad dash for degree certification and diplomas, Wes has gone back to the Elders for his teaching. He has traveled extensively to do this.

"Many youth have lost touch with the past and wander around in the present. They are immediately oriented. They don't have a connection with the past so they can't get in touch with the present or project for the future." he said.

Wes has done some work for the provincial Department of Education and CBC and has had some work published. He has chosen to remain freelance. He performs in schools alternating storytelling with songs. He also appears as a guest with the Great Plains Dancers, a pow-wow troupe who are looking to expand internationally.

"We have to go beyond knowing about our past. We have to promote it, our philosophy, to create an appreciation for Indian people. Doing this will create an appreciation for what we have." he added.

Wes is a poet, storyteller, writer, songwriter and historian. A hobby is collecting old photographs of his reserve, he's traced down old Indian agents in Canada and the U.S. and even as far away as Bermuda to negotiate for old negatives. Now his collection of photographs and audiotape interviews fill old carton boxes. He is planning to put it all in a book. The pictures makes history come alive. Some of the tapes go back to 1952 and the photos bring the lifestyle at the turn of the century into reality.

I see those old photographs and it's almost like therapy. It makes you feel good inside." he said.

Besides the book, another future project is collecting traditional songs. Songs were sung for all occasions. Even children had songs that they sang while at play. Wes said that the songs of a people reveal ,their basic philosophy and value system. Therefore it is important not to lose that component of their life.

"And who can do it (document it) but the Indian people themselves. No one else will do it for us." he said.