Waterlilly Story Telling Institute

We recognize the vital importance of keeping Native American traditional cultures alive by supporting programs linking elders with young people to pass on their oral history through storytelling.

Running Strong is proud to support the annual Waterlilly Storytelling Institute, organized by the Brave Heart Society  on the Yankton Reservation in South Dakota in which more than 1,000 participants hear traditional stories told to them firsthand by Native storytellers at local school assemblies during a four-day period in March.


In hosting the storytelling institute, the Brave Heart Society states that it is its firm believe that “it is essential to repair the fragmentation of Dakota family structures that have been crippled by historical trauma.”

One of those fragmentations is the near loss of “Dakota Storytelling,” which was the primary way to teach morals, desired behavior, human and the importance of being related, or “mitakuye owasin,” among many other important story values.

The Brave Heart Society partners with area schools to host its amazing storytellers, often serving an audience of young people and families with numbers as high as between 800 and 1,000.

The Institute is named after Ihanktonwan author/anthropologist (now deceased), Ella Cara Deloria, who preserved these philosophies in many books, including Waterlily, which is the story of a young Dakota woman of the early 1800’s and how she preserved her integrity as a strong relative.

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