I recently completed a book for my book club. It was not a subject I would have chosen: the author's story of his experiences of an Amazonian tribe. The culture of the remote tribe was vulgar, primitive and at times, I was disgusted by the descriptions of the tribe's crude customs. But as I forced myself to delve deeper into the book, I slowly became engrossed within its story.

And I realized the subject was not at all about the primordial lifestyle of the tribe itself. It was about the tribe's most treasured member; the storyteller.

Through each decade as the tribe was slowly infiltrated by the rubber traders and drug traffickers, their members became disconnected and isolated from each other. Small groups of the tribe were forced to relocate, seperating family members and villagers. But when the storyteller or Hablador appeared, the tribal members quickly gathered around, spellbound by his words.

Why were the Amazonians strangely drawn to the storyteller? He spoke of the mythical stories of their tribe's history. The Hablador weaved stories of centuries old customs that provided the tribal members a sense of who they were and where they came from. His stories kept them grounded to their real selves and he traveled from each disconnected group telling of births, deaths and marriages.

The Hablador was an historian; both tribal and ancestral.

The Irish had their own storyteller; a Seanchai or "bearer of old lore." The Seanchai displayed a certain style of speech and gestures that were peculiar to the Irish folk tradition and passed on tales at ceremonies and community events. They were the "village storytellers;" cementing their townspeople to the traditions and customs of their past.

As I grew surprisingly enthralled with the story of the Hablador of the Amazonian tribe, I became enlightened to the real meaning of genealogy and it's deep and growing interest. As our current environment pushes us farther away from our culture and roots, we search for our ancestors and their stories to keep us grounded to who we are as a tribe.

There is something deeply and inherently rewarding in learning the histories of our ancestors. And as we do, our roots grow deeper. It is a basic and primordial instinct to feel spiritually linked to our customs and culture. And when the stories are retold, we feel we have a stronger connection to not only our past but to the present.

Give your family a sense of who their tribe was and is. Write about your family tales and retell the historical stories, so the next generation can feel a connection to their past.

Become the Hablador; the storyteller of your family's history.

Keep searching for answers,

(Source: The Storyteller by Mario Vargas Llosa)


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