Thomas Doty – Storyteller
Book & Audiobook
A Tapestry of Native Stories
Doty Meets Coyote is a collection of 40 traditional and original native stories from master storyteller Thomas Doty. There is a paperback book and an eight-hour CD audiobook narrated by Doty. Also available is an audio download and eBook editions. Doty Meets Coyote is published by Blackstone Publishing, and is part of their series, "The Legacy of the First Nation, Voices of a Generation."
"A cultural treasure ... the best spinner of native myths I have ever heard." —Dr. John M.H. Kelly, Skidegate Haida Elder, Adjunct Research Professor, Carleton University, Ottawa
"I pray that Tom lives for a long, long time so that generations ahead can hear these stories." —Agnes Baker-Pilgrim (Taowhyee), Takelma Elder, Spiritual Leader, International Indigenous Grandmother
"Wise. Humorous. Rich. Human. From a true Master Storyteller... This collection is a rare treasure that will delight, inspire and continue to inform while the echo of their truth resonates and stays with you for a long, long time." —Melani Marx, Energy Alignment Master, Certified Life Coach, Teacher, Mentor and Writer
"A fantastically entertaining audio experience told by a Master Storyteller whose passion and knowledge of the subject are obvious and overwhelming." —Larry Graves, on Goodreads
Public Radio Interview
On 4/14/2016, Thomas Doty was interviewed by Geoffrey Riley on Jefferson Public Radio's "The Jefferson Exchange." He talked about his new book and audiobook, and his experiences as a native storyteller.
On 4/15/2016, Thomas Doty and his new book and audiobook was the cover story in the Ashland Daily Tidings.
Making Ancient Stories New Again
Storyteller Thomas Doty grew up in a white, middle-class neighborhood in Medford and was terrified of public speaking -- but he had part Takelma-Shasta genes and noticed, at age 28, that no one was telling the ancient stories of his ancestors and if someone didn't record them, they might disappear from history.
"I had a speech problem and had to go to a special speech teacher," says Doty, 63, who now lives in Ashland. "I would avoid any college class that had public speaking. But my grandmother started telling me the Native American stories and I realized no one was going to keep them alive. Amazingly, I decided to spend the rest of my life doing what absolutely terrified me."
What really made him turn the corner was a visit to his ancient tribal lands, called Coyote's Paw, on the Klamath River with Hornbrook resident Carroway George. Descendants had "tribal memories" of his ancestors who left in the 1850s, when Shastas and Takelmas were force-marched to the Siletz reservation on the central Oregon Coast.
With some fellow poets, Doty in 1981 took a big "leap of faith," reading his Indian tales at the long-gone Vintage Inn on Water Street. Soon followed speaking-acting lessons with Oregon Shakespeare Festival staff, hooking up with Grandma Aggie (Takelma Elder Agnes Baker Pilgrim) and Cow Creek chairman Chuck Jackson of the Northern Takelma in Douglas County, speakers of the then-dying Takelma tongue.
How do you make a living as a storyteller of Indian tales? It was something that Doty, then one of a half-dozen storytellers in Oregon, had to figure out. He did it, establishing a network of school districts, museums and wineries where he could make regular visits, set a speaking fee and draw new generations into the mythology of the people who lived here for 15,000 years before whites arrived.
"Telling an Indian story in person is a very intimate exercise," says Doty, who always does it in his signature vest. "There's a lot of movement and gesture, based in the Indian sign language. It's a sharing where you use all the tools at your disposal, including my 15 masks."
A story is designed so that, no matter what stage you are at in life, it will speak to you at that level, he notes.
"So much is done non-verbally, the silence, the eye-contact, the pause before the first word, to invite them in. It's one of the most magical experiences I've ever had. There are moments when it's beyond the story and you know absolutely that all 100 kids are breathing in unison. It's incredible how they're so tuned in, not just to the story but to themselves, touching deep into their emotion in ways that facts can't do."
So immersed is Doty in the original lore and meaning of the landscape of Southern Oregon and Northern California that it's hard for him to drive over the Rogue River by Table Rocks without recalling what's really here -- the Dragonfly Brothers (the upper and lower Table Rocks), who are the center of the Takelma universe. The Rogue is the blood of the Great Animal, which is all of life, and Crater Lake is the head. Gold Beach is the tail.
"It's a symbol of all our lives. The gorge is like a wild child. The river smooths out in the middle and Table Rocks are the ribs ... A spot above the river between Gold Hill and Rogue River was for sacred vision quests ... In death the river flows into the ocean, to rise into the clouds and fall as snow in the mountains, starting life again."
After 35 years of storytelling, Doty has compiled native stories -- and his own tales, modeled after them in style and meaning -- into the book Doty Meets Coyote, just published by Blackstone Publishing, with accompanying audio book. It's part of the Ashland publisher's "The Legacy of the First Nation, Voices of a Generation Series."
Doty will read from the book, tell stories and sign books at 7 p.m. Monday, April 18, at Bloomsbury Books, 290 E. Main St.
"There are two things I do as a storyteller," he says. "I keep the old-time stories alive with integrity for the core of the story. It never changes. Second is the art of creating new Native American stories, as a storyteller, which is what's been done for thousands of years. I make the ancient tradition a living art form."
Native tales reveal that all tribes in this region were matriarchal -- with women owning all dwellings and running the village, but allowing for a "man cave" for guys to get away. The purpose of storytelling, he adds, is "to entertain all night, sometimes for five nights in a row, to teach us who we are, the myths of how to build houses and where the fish and huckleberries are."
However, says Doty, "the crux of it is that when you're doing a magic story, the teaching is so deep that it's healing. You feel better about a situation." Doty points out a tale in the book, where a fourth-grade girl, new at the school, was isolated and in pain, being teased about her skinny legs. Under Doty's teachings, she insisted on telling a story, her new story, to the entire school.
It was about a crane harried by all the other animals for its thin legs, but soon they needed to cross the wide, swift river. They had no bridge or boat, so they asked crane to carry them. With that, the teasing stopped. They reached a new land where they could thrive.
"Out on the playground, an amazing thing happened," writes Doty. "Oral tradition happened. The students who heard her story told it to those who hadn't and just like stories have been spreading around for thousands of years, that story spread all through the school. By the end of the day, nearly all the students had quit teasing her. Within a week, she had some good friends. That's what I call a healing story, a little something to make the world a better place."
Paperback, CD Audiobook, Audio Download
Doty Meets Coyote is also available as an eBook from iTunes and Amazon....
Libraries, Bookstores, Retailers
If you're a school, university or library, and interested in purchasing a durable deluxe edition of the CD Audiobook in a vinyl case with seven CDs in cloth sleeves, visit Blackstone's Library Site.
If you're a bookstore or other retailer, you can set up a wholesale account with Blackstone Publishing at their Library Site.
Signed Copies Directly from Doty
If you have booked Thomas Doty for a program, you can purchase signed copies from him when he shows up for his gig. You have the option of paying by check, credit card, or with cash. If you would like Doty to add your purchase to the invoice for Doty's appearance, just let him know. Here are the prices....
Reading & Listening Levels: In the Old Time, everyone attended traditional storytellings, from the youngest to the elders of each village. Like good stories everywhere, native stories have layers of meaning which allow persons of different ages and experiences to be able to relate to each story. According to education standards in the United states, the paperback book has an overall reading level of fourth grade, with several stories easily read and comprehended by younger children, and all stories enjoyed by adults. The audiobook includes stories with a listening level for all ages. Teachers and parents, please read or listen first before sharing. You know your children best.
Audio Recordings: Two stories from Doty Meets Coyote can be streamed on this website: Listen to Stories.
Table of Contents: Page numbers refer to the paperback edition. There are two sets of track numbers: one for the CD audiobook (standard edition), and the other for the audio download. There is a description of each work, and its setting, as well as playing times for both audio versions.
Contents & Audio Playlist
Ancestors and Elders
Description: Doty thanks those who have kept the stories alive for centuries, and he talks about his approach to native storytelling.
Description: Doty remembers listening to his grandmother, the family storyteller.
Description: A poem for grandmothers everywhere.
Sun and Stories Come into the World Together
Description: In this Old Time story about the power of dreaming, people experience the arrival of sunlight and stories.
Setting: In a village along a river in southern Oregon.
Doty Meets Coyote
Description: In their first story together, Doty the storyteller and Coyote, his canine sidekick, become best friends and journey from their home into the mountains. Doty gives a dramatic campfire telling of a Crater Lake myth, and Doty and Coyote climb to the summit of a Cascade peak.
Setting: In the Cascade Mountains of southern Oregon, including Lake of the Woods, Crater Lake, and Mount McLoughlin.
Description: A five-part poem about about a sacred lake that is powerful to native people.
Setting: At Crater Lake in southern Oregon.
The Woman Loved Trees
Description: In this original native story, a woodcarver comes to terms with the loss of his wife.
Setting: In the woods of southern Oregon.
The Truths of Trees
Description: Doty and Coyote travel into the redwoods in search of a tree in a photo from Doty's youth. Encouraged by masterful taunts from his trickster friend, Doty journeys deep into the relationship he and the Old Ones share with the ancient race of Tree People.
Setting: In the redwood forests along the northern California coast.
The Legend of Table Mountain
Description: An aging anthropologist goes to live in an abandoned fire lookout and discovers the power of the stories he spent a lifetime collecting.
Setting: In and around Table Mountain, in the Greensprings region of the Cascade Mountains of southern Oregon.
Jackrabbit Cuts Down Trees
Description: In this traditional myth, the first war begins from an abuse of the environment and misinformation.
Setting: At Cottonwood Glades, in the Greensprings region of the Cascade Mountains in southern Oregon, and in a native village in the Rogue Valley.
Sixth Grade and Beyond
Description: Doty becomes a writer, and a listener and watcher.
Setting: At an elementary school in southern Oregon.
Description: A short, original story. The wind is the breath of the earth.
Setting: In southern Oregon.
A Mythtime Walk Up Lower Table Rock
Description: As Doty climbs a sacred rock, he journeys into the heart of Takelma mythology.
Setting: On Lower Table Rock along the Rogue River in southern Oregon.
Panther and the Deer
Description: After a lesson from the Deer People, Panther and his brother Wildcat learn to be good hunters.
Setting: Along the Rogue River in southern Oregon, and in the Cascade Mountains.
On Younger Daldal's Back
Description: A short walk in the fog takes Doty and Coyote to the edge.
Setting: On Lower Table Rock along the Rogue River in southern Oregon.
Ribs of the Animal
Description: Doty borrows Coyote's buckskin bag of magical masks and makes seasonal treks to the center of the Takelma universe, where most anything is possible.
Setting: At the Table Rocks along the Rogue River in southern Oregon.
Description: A short piece about Great Bear in the Sky, and one of Doty's childhood memories.
Setting: At an elementary school in southern Oregon.
The Boy Who Lived with a Bear
Description: An Old Time story about a man, his bear wife and their bear cubs.
Setting: In the mountains of southern Oregon.
Description: Native Woman is on a journey to discover herself and explore her native culture.
Setting: Along the Rogue River in southern Oregon, and at nearby Diamond Lake.
All Night Salmon Leap the Falls
Description: Doty and Coyote meet the spirit of the poet called Lampman in an old house in the woods. The three of them walk back through time to participate in the Sacred Salmon Ceremony at an ancient village.
Setting: At Ti'lomikh along the Rogue River, near the southern Oregon town of Gold Hill.
The Boy Walked into the Sun, His Father into the Moon
Description: In this traditional story, a boy leaves his home and grows into a man.
Setting: Along the Klamath River in northern California.
Description: A short piece about stories carved and painted on rocks.
Setting: In southern Oregon.
Waiting for Rock Old Woman
Description: Doty and Coyote wait for the return of the spirit of an Old Time Takelma medicine woman. At an ancient creek crossing, they witness centuries of stories pass by, and then they walk the old Indian trail up the mountain to the traditional home of Rock Old Woman.
Setting: On and around Sexton Mountain in southern Oregon, including Grave Creek and Sunny Valley.
Journey to the Land of the Dead
Description: In this traditional story, a husband travels to the Land of the Dead and tries to bring his dead wife home.
Setting: At the village of Coyote's Paw, along the Klamath River in northern California.
Where Koomookumpts Sleeps
Description: Doty tells a childhood story of his first trek to Koomookumpts' Bed, the home of the Modoc creator.
Setting: Petroglyph Point near Tule Lake in northeast California, including Lava Beds National Monument and the native village of Gumbat.
Where the Sun and Moon Live
Description: With a mysterious young man as a guide, Doty and Coyote travel underground through lava caves to the center of the Modoc universe. They experience Old Time myths of the sun, moon and stars, witness the supernova of 1054, and visit a sacred solstice site.
Setting: In and around Lava Beds National Monument in northeast California, including Lower Klamath Lake, Shapasheni, Symbol Bridge, The Solstice Pictograph, and Petroglyph Point.
At Their Best, Stories Heal
Description: A fourth-grade girl tells a healing story to her classmates.
Setting: At an elementary school on the Oregon coast.
Panther and the White Duck Women
Description: The White Duck Women travel from their home across the ocean in search of Panther. Coyote tries to mess things up.
Setting: Along the Rogue River in southern Oregon.
Long Walk Home
Description: Doty and Coyote are joined by Coyote's grandmother in a walk from the reservation to their homeland. Following a Trail of Tears in reverse, this journey through landscape and time is edged with unsettling revelations.
Setting: Various locations in Oregon, including Ti'lomikh along the Rogue River near Gold Hill, the Oregon coast, the Siletz Indian Reservation, the Willamette Valley, Dayton, Coyote Creek, Grand Prairie, Grave Creek, and Sexton Mountain.
The Yellowjackets Steal Coyote's Salmon
Description: The yellowjackets pull a trick on the trickster Coyote.
Setting: Along the Shasta River in northern California, and on Mount Shasta.
Night of Ghosts, Night of Stories
Description: Doty, self-appointed old west wordsmith, and his legendary sidekick, Cowpoke Coyote, arrive by stagecoach at an old hotel. Among trees and tombstones, a green fog forms in the nearby cemetery. Doty and Coyote step through the door and into a spooky night of stories.
Setting: At Rock Point along the Rogue River in southern Oregon, including the old Rock Point Hotel and Stage station that is now Del Rio Vineyards and Winery.
Dog Brings Fire to the People
Description: In the Old Time, the people get fire and become best friends with Dog.
Setting: On and around Mount Shasta in northern California.
Writing on the Rocks
Description: A man teaches his son about ancient rock paintings.
Setting: In a cave in southern Oregon.
Five Nights at Medicine Rock
Description: Guided by Mister Coyote, Doty journeys into the high country in search of an Old Time vision quest site. This story chronicles the native history of the rock through five nights of dreams, from the Rock People to a contemporary museum exhibit.
Setting: Along the Rogue River in southern Oregon, including Medicine Rock, Ti'lomikh, and a museum in nearby Talent.
Description: An ancient story about friendship.
Setting: At a native village on the southern Oregon coast.
Story Tree at Kilchis Point
Description: Doty searches for a legendary tree where stories are stored. He meets a menagerie of characters ... South Wind, Wild Woman, Ice Man, Bashō and, of course, Coyote. During a Mythtime moment, the tree receives a native story.
Setting: At Kilchis Point near the town of Tillamook on the northern Oregon coast.
The Sun Rolls North and South
Description: A traditional solstice story.
Setting: Along the southern Oregon coast.
Description: Doty's poem about being a native storyteller.
John Beeson's Ghost
Description: During the Rogue Indian War of the 1850s, John Beeson stood up for the rights of Indians. He was driven from his home by death threats, eventually becoming a national voice for native rights. Doty and Coyote go on a quest to discover the peace-loving spirit of Beeson.
Setting: In Stearns Cemetery near the southern Oregon community of Talent.
Words at the End of a Storytelling
Description: What the storyteller says when the stories are over.