|Native American Stories and Songs
Rocky Paul Wiseman / Maliseet from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
Rocky Paul Wiseman is a man clearly in love with his people and his nation. A young Maliseet man from Fredericton, New Brunswick in Canada, Rocky is friendly and more than anxious to drive us around St. Mary's reserve to show us the many ancient sites. The Maliseet people are one of the oldest known tribes along the eastern coast. The land is beautiful and lush along the St. John River. Milt records the stories while he and Rocky are driving over the reserve in a truck--a bit noisy but workable. Rocky says that there about 5000 Maliseets in the world and half of them live away from the reserve.
When Rocky's grandmother was 90 years old and coming to the end of her life, Rocky went to the hospital and sang the old songs to her. His grandmother would speak nothing but Maliseet to Rocky and other visitors because she believed that if the old language were lost, the ancestors would not be able to understand them when they got to the spirit world. We were very moved by this story and had found one more important reason to preserve these ancient languages.
Rocky is a busy man, working in the arts community in Canada, working in theater and singing. He is a linguist, a student, a singer, a historian and has worked many different jobs within the art world. His voice is extraordinary, rich and deep. He sings a song for us in St. Anne's church, the same church his uncles and great uncles sang in.
Rocky was not raised in his community but returned when he was fourteen. He was taught in a non-native school and was punished for speaking Maliseet. However, Rocky felt, even then, that it was important to remember the language and he does his part to preserve the culture. Currently, he works as a forest and land use research officer but wants to return to the arts field when his term runs out.
Listen to a sample of the show here.