Native Traditions

by Mariah Morgan

Horizon Reporter

On November 14, Whatcom Community College will have the privilege of bringing back someone who is an experienced dancer, actor and musician; an individual who genuinely cares to share life lessons and stories about his own path, talking and entertaining people of all ages.

            Gene Tagaban is most famous for his wisdom and Native American storytelling. “His shows run the gamut from storytelling to musical performance to comedy to motivational speaking to wisdom teaching,” along with traditional props and instruments, says Susan Lonac, an English teacher at Whatcom. 

            Lonac invited Tagaban because the performance coincided with her mythology class. Other classes will find it interesting, she said, “especially those that look at narrative traditions, music, or indigenous culture.”

            Tagaban is Native American, having Tlingit descent from his great grandmother of Juneau, Alaska, Cherokee descent from his mother, and Filipino descent from his grandfather, according to Turtle Island Storytellers, a website which promotes tribal storytellers and song writers.

            “He’s pretty funny. He definitely connects with the audience,” says Kiki Tommila, a librarian at Whatcom.

Tagaban has an idea of what he will perform but he doesn’t always follow the script, letting the audience ask questions, says Tommila.“He does a nice job merging traditional with modern.”

      “He says to stay connected to your universe,” Tommila said, recalling Tagaban’s wisdom. “We can make our world smaller but don’t let that happen. Keep your world big.”


Gene Tagaban will be performing in the Heiner Theater from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 14.

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