Indigenous storyteller to visit campus

Perry Ground tells ancient stories of Haudenosaunee people

Photo of Perry Ground indigenous storyteller

Haudenosaunee storyteller Perry Ground will don his traditional regalia to tell traditional indigenous stories Nov. 1 at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.   

In addition to his public performance at noon in the Mukaiyama University Room of the Frame-Westerberg Commons, Ground will also visit Floyd C. Fretz Middle School.   

Ground says he tells traditional stories in a contemporary and engaging way, acting out parts of the story. The stories, he said, have been told for hundreds of years by the Haudenosaunee (HAW-de-no-saw-nee), who were known to the French as the Iroquois, to teach Indigenous history, values and ways to behave as well as entertain.   

Ground explained originally, Haudenosaunee did not write down their stories and passed them only verbally from one generation to another. There were once many storytellers, but now there are only a few, he said.   

A member of the Onondaga Nation (part of the Iroquois Confederacy) Ground first became interested in storytelling during his first year at Cornell University, where he originally wanted to study to become a veterinarian.   

He discovered the university’s American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program and changed to a dual major of Native American history and communication.   

He learned not only from native faculty members, but from his fellow student, one of whom came from a long line of Mohawk storytellers, which fascinated him.   

After graduating from Cornell, Ground began his career an upstate New York historic site on the site of a Seneca village destroyed by the French in the 17th century.   

He has gone on to present at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Museum of Art and the Iroquois Indian Museum, and at museums, parks, schools and festivals throughout the country.   

During the 2021-2022 academic year, Ground was the Frederick H. Minnett Professor at the Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology, a one-year fellowship that brings Rochester-area multicultural professionals to RIT.