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Retelling Native American tales

When Kira Hendricksen and Mickey Yeager came to the Museum and Arts Center as interns through the Washington State Work Study Program, they asked director Katherine Vollenweider what they should do - and she handed them a box of puppets.

"So we hatched this crazy idea to do a puppet show for kids," laughed Hendricksen.

The two interns decided to act out Native American legends using the MAC's supply of puppets, including a raven, an owl, a bobcat, even a mastodon.

"We haven't found a story that could use a mastodon yet though," Hendricksen said.

The students said the first storytelling event, on July 5, attracted 15 children and many parents. To involve even the youngest children, Hendricksen and Yeager have the children make a craft project that supplements the story before the reading.

"It's really interactive, that's what I think is great," Hendricksen said.

The students, who present the stories on Saturdays in conjunction with the Sequim Open Aire Market, often find themselves putting on masks and encouraging children attending the market to come listen to stories while their parents shop.

For a recent story, the girls had the children make a fog hat, which was featured in the tale, and had the children put on the hat each time it was mentioned in the story.

To find the stories, Hendricksen and Yeager spent hours researching online and at the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribal Center.

"The Jamestown Tribe's been really helpful to us," Hendricksen said. "We've gotten so much information there."

Before the end of their internship, they said they hope to visit the Burke Museum in Seattle and the Makah Cultural and Research Center museum in Neah Bay.

The girls, who both plan to attend Seattle Pacific University in the fall, said they are creating a handbook for future interns and volunteers to maintain the storytelling program.

"Hopefully it will continue to expand," Yeager said. "It's a great program and we really want it to continue."

The internships are through the Washington State Work Study program, which the students and Vollenweider tout as a wonderful program.

"It's really beneficial for businesses and for nonprofits," Vollenweider said of the program that provides partial subsidies to businesses that hire college interns and have them perform career-related tasks.

The girls agree it is a win-win program.

"We have learned so much about how museums run and it is so fascinating," Hendricksen said. "It's fun, we're learning a lot about Native American stories and working with kids ... and we're helping pay off our school bills."

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