Thomas Doty – Storyteller
"Thomas Doty is a cultural treasure. From the Black Hills of South Dakota, to the deserts of the Southwest, to the Oregon Country, he is the best spinner of native myths I have ever heard. And I've heard quite a few."
Dr. John Medicine Horse Kelly (Cle-alls), Haida Elder, Professor of Journalism, Carleton University, Ottawa
Traditional & Original Native Stories
Thomas Doty accompanies his audiences on dramatic journeys into the wondrous world of stories, landscapes and culture. Recipient of a Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award from the national American Indian Program, he has been called "one of the best of Oregon's storytellers," "a cultural treasure," and "a master of his art."
Each year, in addition to performing native stories in a variety of community settings, Doty visits dozens of schools, colleges and universities.
Steeped in Native American oral traditions of the West, traditional stories are woven with original native stories to provide present-day insights into ancient cultures ... a dramatic bridge between the present time and the vibrant Old Time world of Doty's native ancestors.
Thomas Doty weaves a wide-range of topics into his performances, including the healing power of stories, native world view, stories the ancient rock carvings and paintings tell, Indian and European contact.... Each performance is honed to create the perfect presentation for audience, sponsor and venue. Thomas Doty blends his storytelling skills with decades of living his art, as well as constantly exploring, researching and writing about his native culture.
Performances are available for a variety of settings ... at schools, colleges and universities, theatres, community centers, art galleries, bookstores, museums and visitor centers, libraries, churches and spiritual centers, retirement homes and private homes, parks and monuments, refuges and retreats, summer camps, fairs and festivals, and more!
In a formal theatre or around a campfire, Thomas Doty's performances are dynamic and engaging ... and deeply rooted in native culture and homeland.
Thomas Doty shares traditional and original native stories in your home. Invite your family and friends, provide food and drink – or have a potluck! – and Doty does the rest. Enjoy a magical evening of storytelling in the intimate setting of your home.
When I was up north sharing stories, an Inuit elder gave me the best definition of storytelling I have ever heard. She said, "A storyteller creates the atmosphere where wisdom reveals itself." "What's that mean?" I asked. The elder said, "That's easy. Get the storyteller out of the story."
Yes! How can we share our stories with such genuineness, sensitivity, and skill that the audience walks away feeling the emotional drama of each story and the many levels of wisdom and truth, rather than simply acknowledging the personality of the storyteller?
Storytelling is all about sharing ... sharing a story that matters to you in a way that it matters to someone else. There are no limits within the heart of the ancient tradition of storytelling.
"I pray that Tom lives for a long, long time so that generations ahead can hear these stories."
"May your path be easy. Continue telling our stories. Keep our Spirit alive."
Agnes Baker-Pilgrim (Taowhywee), Takelma Elder, Spiritual Leader, International Indigenous Grandmother
"Thomas Doty delivers native stories in the style of the ancient ones; full of myth and magic, truth and humor. With his rich voicing of characters and hand gestures, you are taken along with him into every tale."
Tish McFadden, Musician, Composer, Writer, Founder and Director of Rum Tum Music.
"Mr. Doty's presentation was very powerful. He taught us a side of history which is generally not taught."
"Mr. Doty is a storyteller, but he makes the story stay with you for the rest of your life."
"He actually reached into his story, he was so passionate. For some reason it didn't feel like he was telling a story, it felt like he was the story."
8th Grade Students, Cascade Middle School, Eugene, OR
"Having watched you perform in schools, I can attest to the value of your work with students. You excite and amaze and make learning a fascinating adventure. I've spent my career in education, have started and directed 3 schools, have a Ph.D. in education administration. I think your work is profoundly enriching and recommend you to all schools."
Dr. Bea Davis, Educator, Portland, OR
Stories in Education
Since 1981, master native storyteller Thomas Doty has visited thousands of schools throughout the country. Doty has a variety of performances available for grades K-12, and beyond. For native people, stories have been a teaching-tool-of-choice for thousands of years.
Education is naturally built into native stories, the core of Doty's art. Storytelling is the way native people have been learning about themselves for centuries.
In his performances, Thomas Doty can include specific traditional and original native stories to compliment what you're teaching in the classroom, across content areas. For example, stories of the Sacred Salmon Ceremony for a class engaged in a Salmon Watch Unit. Or stories of Indian and European contact for Social Studies classes. Or stories that emphasize cultural traditions for classes studying local and regional native people. There are many possibilities.
For many years, Thomas Doty was a Master Teacher in the Arts in Education program. These days, he weaves knowledge from his years of teaching into his storytelling performances.
Thomas Doty's performances are innovative and vibrant. They dramatize native wisdoms and teachings in ways that profoundly connect students to themselves, as well as to cultural traditions.
Thomas Doty's stories align with educational standards, and are relevant across content areas. Here is an outline of CCSS in "teacher speak," with links to specific passages in Doty's writing that support key concepts.
"Today our class met a storyteller. Clearly it was awesome."
"First, he made funny faces in the stories. Next, he made funny voices in the stories. Last, he told three stories. All and all, he was the best storyteller ever!"
"He had a good character voice. The stories were amazing and we are going to do it all week. I can't wait to hear more stories."
1st Grade Students, Crestview Heights School, Waldport, OR
"The classes sat completely enraptured and were absolutely mesmerized by your storytelling. The program was more than what we had expected it to be. We hope to see you again."
3rd Grade Teaching Team, Maple Grove Primary School, Battle Ground, WA
"We came back to class and my kids were soooo excited about your stories. They loved them and the way you told them. I was able to then make a connection with their stories they are writing. These kinds of experiences are so good for our kids, and I just wanted to make sure you knew how much we appreciated you."
5th Grade Teacher, Three Rivers School, Sunriver, OR
From the Elders
Many of the traditional stories Thomas Doty shares in his performances were passed along to him by elders in his family and in the larger native community. Here are profiles of three elders who inspired Doty....
- Grandma Maude. "My grandmother Maude Daugherty was our family storyteller. It was from her that I first heard many of our local native stories. When I was a boy, Grandma would gather us children around the pot-bellied stove and tell us stories. She was a large woman and didn't move around much. But she had a wonderfully rich voice, and different voices for animals in the stories. And her hands were so expressive that they invited stories into the room. They became our friends. Though Grandma journeyed into the next world when I was nine years old, I have never forgotten her stories. And I hear her voices -- all of them -- inside my own stories."
- Gwisgwashan (Frances Johnson). "I discovered Gwisgwashan's amazing repertoire of our Takelma stories through conversations with her great niece, my friend Agnes Baker-Pilgrim, and through the works of linguists Edward Sapir and John Peabody Harrington. Gwisgwashan was born in 1835 in her family village in southern Oregon and walked the Takelma Trail of Tears to the Siletz Reservation in 1856. She was the last fluent speaker of our native language. She died in 1934, at age 99. Her Takelma name means Chipmunk Face."
- Chuck Jackson. "I first met met Cow Creek elder Chuck Jackson through my friend John Medicine Horse Kelly in the early 1980s. He lived on his family's traditional native land and carried in his head most of what had survived of Cow Creek and Takelma culture. The three of us sat for hours sharing stories. We talked about the mythology (Daldal, Coyote, Bear) and places (Ti'lomikh, the Table Rocks, the Bear Rock and the cave where Hapkemnas the creator lives). He told us stories of the arrival of Europeans and amazing stories of healing and transformation."
"Thomas Doty is a treasured native storyteller. He has the very real talent to interweave an ancient story with endless wonder and surprise while connecting both the story and the characters with today. When he tells the story, he becomes the character described and the audience is transported to that moment and place."
Gary Albright, Director, Tillamook County Pioneer Museum
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