Using short talks and demonstrations, I explain to people how Native Americans lived, survived, and thrived for thousands of years before the arrival of white settlers in North America.
Tom Romito, Native American Interpreter, will be at the First People Festival at Rocky River Nature Center
November is National Native American Heritage Month. Rocky River Nature Center in North Olmsted, Ohio will host its annual First People Festival in honor of this observance on Saturday, November 19 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. I will one of several interpreters who will engage the public on Native American culture.
My interest in Native American culture will amply be on display as I display my artifacts to the public, tell Native American legends, and play my native flutes.
What I Do as an Interpreter
I interpret Native American culture to the public. Using short talks and demonstrations, I explain to people how Native Americans lived, survived, and thrived for thousands of years before the arrival of white settlers in North America. Artifacts I use are those I have made or either been made or gifted to me by fellow interpreters.
Why I Do This
I got into this when I was very young. I would wander through the woods behind my home and imagine how American Indians made bows and arrows out of sticks. I tried to bend sticks like bows and shoot other sticks from them like arrows. Of course, the sticks broke.
When I was much older, I decided to learn how the Indians made these things. This passion led me to learn about many other aspects of their culture. As I amassed knowledge about this, I decided to share it with other people.
How I Build My Practice as a Native American Interpreter
I believe that everyone who lives on the North American continent shares the heritage of the Native Americans. They left a legacy that they created over thousands of years, and it is ours to learn and enjoy.
In 1998, I learned how Native Americans created beautiful art with glass beads, both on a loom and directly on leather. In 2004, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I learned how the Chippewa created many useful things from birch bark.
One year, I attended a pow-wow at Atwood Lake in Ohio and asked a Native American to explain an item she was selling. She explained that it was a directional choker. She said, “When you educate people about our culture, tell them about the four colors.” These colors appear on many of my artifacts.
In 2004, I visited a craft show in Grand Haven, Michigan. I asked a Native American vendor to play something for me on a rather crude flute he was selling. He made it sing. I couldn’t get a note out of it. I bought it and learned to play a little more. Eventually, I graduated to more challenging instruments and now incorporate my flute music in my practice.
In 2008, the Cleveland Metroparks asked me to construct a wickiup for the maple sugar festival that occurs every winter. I learned how to do this using black willow saplings for the frame and common reeds for mats to cover the structure. I had to rebuild the wickiup every year because it would lose its shape.
I’ve developed the art of telling Native American stories. As I travel around the country, I keep an eye out for Native American legends that I think people, especially, children, will enjoy.
I involve my audiences in my interpretive practice with singing, dancing, sign language, discussion, and shooting my primitive bows and arrows.
Tom Romito is an interpreter of Native American Culture, a facilitator of organizations who want to grow, and a Reiki practitioner dedicated to helping people heal. Tom shares stories and skills to help you energize your world.