James Bruchac – Storyteller, Animal Tracker, and Beyond

photo credit: Eric Jenks

During this program, which can be geared for all ages, audiences will be treated to some of James’ favorite stories including various Native legends, Adirondack tall tales, and animal interactions combined with some of his own often comical life experiences. Story lovers of all ages will be taken on a journey of discovery and laughter. (Ages 8 – Adult)

School Author Residences & Workshops (Writing & Storytelling)

The focus of James Bruchac’s author visits can range from sharing a few stories from his books to comprehensive writing and storytelling workshops. During question and answer sessions Mr. Bruchac explains how growing up hearing Native legends from his father Joseph Bruchac and his real-life experiences in the wilderness have influenced his storytelling and writing. During Writing Workshops, James helps students compose their own stories. Using his various books as examples, the most popular lesson choices include animal lesson stories (K – 3) and cautionary monster tales (4 – 12). For Grades K-2 James can create a group story complete with his own illustrations. Mr. Bruchac’s Storytelling Workshops (4-12) use highly interactive exercises to help students develop key storytelling techniques. In the context of longer residences, students can not only create but share their own stories. Teacher-oriented workshops are also available. (Grades 2 – 12)

Native American Storytelling Presentations

From animal lesson stories (Ages 6 – Adult) to trickster heroes & monster tales (Ages 8 – Adult) audiences of all ages will not only be amused but learn valuable lessons as well. Since most of the stories James shares have been passed down from generation to generation they also serve as great windows into Native culture. During Native storytellings, James may also include the use of Native Instruments such as drums, rattles, and flutes encouraging students to sing along with various songs and chants. When requested Mr. Bruchac can also expand on any cultural and philosophical connections found within the stories and songs he presents. (Grades K – Adult)

 Wilderness Survival & Exploration

Participants will learn about such human necessities as protection from the elements, making fire, and finding food and water. James also demonstrates how people past and present have, and still can, obtain utilize resources from the wild to help them survive. During the hands-on, outdoor workshops, students can learn how to make their own survival shelter, how to navigate, find water, and food, make fire, and tips on avoiding potential hazards they could encounter in the wild. (Ages 9 – Adult)

 Animal Tracking & Animal Studies

Tracking can help students of all ages better understand the everyday life of animals. Starting with the very basic What’s That Track program (K – 12) to more in-depth programs like Animal Studies (3 – 12), students will use plaster casts of various animal footprints to identify animal tracks. Students will also receive general information and lore about the animals that made them. Longer classes can include trips into various wilderness areas to search for, identify, and collect various animal signs found in the wild. (Ages 8 – Adult)

Native American Culture and the Use of Natural Resources

Focusing on natural resources from plants, trees, rocks, animals, and water – to the soil beneath your feet – James provides physical evidence to show how pre-contact Native Americans shaped these key resources into everything they needed to survive. Along with showing objects such as deerskin clothing, furs, a birch bark canoe, snowshoes, wampum, baskets, and hunting tools, James also explains the ways this original reliance on the natural world helped shape the many Native legends, cultural values, and social interactions that continue to this day. (Ages 9 – Adult)

Field Trip to Visit Mr. Bruchac (at Ndakinna)

Schools, scout groups, and all others within driving distance of Greenfield Center, New York, can visit James at his family-founded Ndakinna Education Center & Nature Preserve. Housing all of his Native American exhibits with over 3,o00 square feet of indoor teaching space, the Education Center is surrounded by an 80-acre nature preserve. Half-day to multiple-day experiences are offered. Programs at Ndakinna can include aspects of all the above programs as well as the option of adding in various team-building activities on Ndakinna’s low ropes course and more. Visit for more information. (Ages 6 – Adult)