Thomas Doty – Storyteller
"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
Stories in Education
Thomas Doty is a master storyteller and teacher. Since 1981, he has visited thousands of schools throughout the country. Doty has a variety of performances, workshops and residencies for grades K-12.
Education is naturally built into native stories, the core of Doty's art. Storytelling is the way Native Americans have been learning about themselves for centuries. Their history and folklore, their beliefs, even practical things like how to build a house, and where the best huckleberries are in the mountains. Everything is passed along through the stories.
Thomas Doty's storytelling programs are innovative and vibrant. They dramatize native wisdoms and teachings in ways that profoundly connect students to themselves, as well as to cultural traditions.
"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
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 European/Native contact for Social Studies classes. Or stories that emphasize cultural traditions for classes studying local and regional native people. There are many possibilities.
To maintain the intimacy that is at the heart of Native American storytelling, Thomas Doty's school performances are small group presentations, not school-wide assemblies. It is essential to not exceed these limits....
For staging requirements, visit the Scheduling & Staging page.
Workshops & Master Classes
Thomas Doty's workshops and master classes are great follow-ups to his performances. He fine-tunes activities to meet the needs of participants. Students not only immerse themselves in each workshop's main topic, but also learn about other cultural traditions ... native world view, vision quests, sacred numbers, and more! Here are descriptions of Doty's workshops....
- Stories & Songs (Workshop for Grades K-2. Maximum of 30 students. Length is 30-45 minutes.) Doty uses hands-on activities to give young students rich experiences of Old Time stories and songs.
- The Importance of Stories (Workshop for Grades 3-12. Maximum of 90 students. Length is 45-60 minutes.) Students learn how stories are the heart of native cultures. Stories entertain, they teach, they heal. Even during the dark years in their histories, native people have kept their stories alive. Students experience oral tradition by telling a traditional story with Doty that is passed along to them orally.
- The Art of Storytelling – Basic Skills (Workshop for Grades 3-12. Maximum of 30 students. Length is 45-60 minutes per session.) Students actively learn the skills of storytelling and oral presentation, including voice, movement, gestures.... Emphasis is placed on sharing, connecting to your audience, inviting them into your story. In multiple sessions -- great for residencies -- students expand their skills and create their own stories as a path to discovering their unique performance styles ... journeying yet deeper into this ancient art.
- The Art of Storytelling – Advanced Skills (Master Class for Grades 6-12. Maximum of 30 students. Length is 45-60 minutes per session.) This is a vigorous and intensive storytelling experience for middle and high school students who have expressed interest or demonstrated skill in the performance arts. Great for theatre arts students. Available as a single session or a sequence of sessions.
- Reading the Rock Writings (Workshop for Grades 3-12. Maximum of 30 students. Length is 60 minutes.) Stories and messages carved and painted on the rocks are simply another form of storytelling and native literature. Doty has participants act out short stories with gestures and movements based on rock writing symbols. A fun and active way to learn the concepts of the images.
For staging requirements, visit the Scheduling & Staging page.
A Sample Day
Here's a full day for three 4th grade classes who are studying local Indian culture. Thomas Doty's programs explore the importance of stories to native people. Students listen to stories, learn about stories, tell a traditional story that has been passed on to them orally, and discover the stories the Rock People tell (paintings and carvings). All programs interconnect and build upon each other. Along their journey through stories, students learn about a variety of native traditions and history.
Performances, workshops, and master classes can be combined to create artist residencies, each lasting from five days to several weeks.
For more than three decades, Thomas Doty was a featured artist in the national Arts in Education program. In his current residencies, Doty continues to create new and innovative sessions with students and teachers. In addition to several contact sessions per day, residencies can also include staff in-services, one-on-one meetings with teachers to share activity ideas for individual classes, performances of original stories by residency participants, and more!
"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