Thomas Doty – Storyteller

Index of Writing

I want to tell a story.
I want to write a poem.
Sometimes the sun and moon
travel together.


– A –

  • Acorn Woman – This medicine woman lives on Mountain McLoughlin and brings good food to the people.
  • All Night Salmon Leap the Falls – 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 Ti'lomikh, an ancient village along the Rogue River.
  • Ancestors and Elders – Doty thanks those who have kept the stories alive for centuries, and he talks about his approach to native storytelling.
  • At Koomookumpts' Bed – Koomookumpts is creator and trickster of the Modocs. His stone bed is a vision quest site at the top of the rock called Koomookumpts' Bed.
  • At Manzanar – Doty walks through the ruins of a World War II Japanese-American internment camp.
  • At Symbol Bridge – An ancient rock writing dramatizes the story of Shapasheni, "Where the Sun and Moon Live."
  • At the Heart of the Universe – The Table Rocks are the center of the Takelma universe. They have many names, and offer diverse experiences.
  • Away from the Very First War – On a midsummer day, Doty visits Cottonwood Glades. The Takelma name for this place means "Knife in Belly."

– B –

  • Bear, The – After several visits to a vision quest site in the North Umpqua country, Doty describes signs of a bear he's never seen.
  • Becoming Complete – This rock writing symbol is often found at vision quest sites.
  • Between Storms – Doty and Coyote snowshoe into Boundary Springs to visit the winter home of Native woman.
  • Biting Down Place – At Lake of the Woods, Doty floats the marshy north end on an air mattress.
  • Boats – In native culture and myth.
  • Breath of the Earth – Doty takes a walk from the Rogue River up Lower Table Rock into the mythic world of the Takelmas. Here he experiences Old Time stories about the great flood, the origin of death, and the power of this sacred place.
  • Butterflies – In the 1950s, Nabokov pens Lolita in Ashland and collects butterflies in the nearby Siskiyou Mountains.

– C –

  • Cabin Full of Words, A – Doty visits a cabin in the Siskiyou Mountains with stories penciled on the walls.
  • Cemetery, The – Visiting the neighborhood cemetery on Halloween.
  • Coyote and the Eyeball Trick – In this traditional myth set on the marshy shore of Upper Klamath Lake, Badger tricks Coyote who tricks Mole after he is tricked by Crow, until everyone's eyeballs find a home, more or less.
  • Cranes – Symbols of longevity along the Silvies River.
  • Crater Lake – A five-part poem about about a sacred lake that is powerful to native people.
  • Crows – At the outdoor pool in Ashland.

– D –

  • Dad's Briefcase – In a canoe with his parents on Upper Klamath Lake, Doty listens to his mother tell the story of the Klamath tribe termination and government payoff in 1954.
  • Day Tule Lake Came Back, The – Doty and Coyote and Fox Girl join Coyote Old Man, Bear, and Basket Woman on a journey through the Klamath Lake country in search of creation stories.
  • Doorway – Haunting scenario and image from Fort Klamath.
  • Doty Meets Coyote – In their first story together, Doty the storyteller and Coyote, his canine sidekick, become best friends and journey from their home into the Cascade Mountains. At Lake of the Woods, Doty gives a dramatic campfire telling of a Crater Lake myth, and Doty and Coyote climb to the summit of Mount McLoughlin.
  • Dragonflies – On Lower Table Rock above the Rogue River.
  • Dream That is Becoming a Story, A – Doty has a lucid dream. He and his mother are playing music on the piano, and the dream connects music and words: "Words are the music of memory."
  • Dreamtime – Dreaming of words in the shade of sycamores on an Indian summer day.
  • Dying – Doty's poem that expresses his native view of dying.

– E –

  • Echo of Falling Water – In 1957, the backwaters of The Dalles Dam on the Columbia River buried Celilo Falls, an ancient site sacred to native people.
  • Elders – With Grandma Aggie at Siletz.

– F –

  • Fall Rain – First fall rain in the Japanese garden.
  • Finding Fort Rock Cave – In 1984, Doty and his father go searching for the cave where 9000+ year-old sandals were found in 1938.
  • Finley and Friends – Oregon wildlife photographer and writer William Finley, and his family and friends, had a unique relationship with the Animal People.
  • Fireworks – Near Tule Lake on July 4, 1054.
  • First Contact – In 1847, Peter Skene Ogden arrives at the Modoc village of Gumbat.
  • Five – Sacred number of native people.
  • Five Nights at Medicine Rock – Guided by Mister Coyote, Doty journeys into the high country in search of an Old Time vision quest site on a ridge above the Rogue River. This story chronicles the native history of the rock through five nights of dreams, from the Rock People to a contemporary museum exhibit.
  • Floating Mountain, The – Mount McLoughlin is the home of Acorn Woman. The Takelma name for the mountain is Wilamxa, "The Floating Mountain."
  • Flutes – In Takelma mythology, Eel was the first flute.
  • Following Mister Bear – Doty and Coyote follow Bear into Oregon Caves and discover a magical world of timeless voices and ancient stories.

– G –

  • Go Gather Seeds and Eat Them – Outside the Ashland Food Co-op, Doty and Coyote listen to an old man tell a story that has them in it. At the height of a wild snowstorm in the Siskiyou Mountains, Doty visits the lodge of the Digging Stick Women, and he listens to Gwisgwashan, the Keeper of Stories, tell an Old Time myth about Panther and his brother Wildcat.
  • Gone Fishin' – A modern day fishing controversy at Willamette Falls.
  • Grandma Maude – Doty remembers listening to his grandmother tell their native stories.
  • Graveyards – At the native villages of T'lomikh and Coyote's Paw.
  • Gumbat – This ancient "village among the rocks" is located in the Modoc homeland along the south shore of Tule Lake.

– H –

  • Hapkemnas – A short description of Children Maker, the Takelma creator.
  • Home – The importance of home in Old Time myths.
  • Honoring Dad – On what would have been his 100th birthday.

– I –

  • It's All Literature! – Description of a collection of native stories by Jarold Ramsey, and book covers with rock writing images.

– J –

  • Jakalunus – Story of a Modoc medicine man.
  • John Beeson's Ghost – 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. On a quest to discover the peace-loving spirit of Beeson, Doty visits Beeson's grave in Stearns Cemetery. At night. Under a full moon. With Coyote lurking in the shadows. And he waits for "something unusual to happen."
  • Journey to the Land of the Dead – In this traditional story from the Klamath River, a husband travels to the Land of the Dead and tries to bring his dead wife home.

– K –

  • Keeping the Stories Alive – The persistence of native storytellers, even during the dark years of forced removal from their homeland and early reservation life.
  • Koomookumpts – Ancient Old Man. Trickster and creator of the Modocs and Klamaths.

– L –

  • Latgawa – In December, Doty takes a five day trek to a winter solstice site in the Cascade Mountains. As he struggles with his desire to live a spiritual life, and the "messy business of the real world getting in the way," his journey becomes a personal vision quest as he is visited by several stories, and, of course, Mister Coyote.
  • Leaving and Returning – In 1856, five Trails of Tears forced the Takelmas from their homeland. Now, at the village of Ti'lomikh, a ceremony has returned and a few of the Old Time stories are told once again.
  • Lights – Watching the lights, both old and new, from a ridge above the Klamath River.
  • Like Coyote – Late night at Crater Lake, Doty is attracted to Coyote's star.
  • Long Walk Home – Doty and Coyote are joined by Coyote's grandmother in a walk from the Siletz Indian Reservation to their homeland along the Rogue River. Following a Trail of Tears in reverse, this journey through landscape and time is edged with unsettling revelations.

– M –

  • Mapmaker Makes a New Native Map – Mapmaker's map of Doty's story, Waiting for Rock Old Woman, his thoughts on native maps, and a description of the narrative and symbols.
  • My Circle – Doty's poem about being a native storyteller.
  • My Drawings – Accompaniments rather than realistic illustrations.
  • My Parents – Father the banker, Mother the artist, and their views of their son, the storyteller.

– N –

  • Native Woman – Native Woman is on a journey through the Rogue River country to discover herself and explore her native culture.
  • Night of Ghosts, Night of Stories – Doty, self-appointed old west wordsmith, and his legendary sidekick, Cowpoke Coyote, arrive by stagecoach at the Rock Point Hotel, along the Rogue River. 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.

– O –

  • On Table Mountain – From the summit, the view of the expansive landscape is a familiar view Doty grew up with.
  • Owls are Back, The – In the middle of a winter night, the owls tell stories from tree to tree.

– P –

  • Panther and the White Duck Women – In this traditional myth, the White Duck Women travel across the ocean and up the Rogue River in search of Panther. Coyote tries to mess things up.
  • People – Everyone is People -- Animal People, Tree People....
  • Perspectives – Three view of The Peninsula at Tule Lake.
  • Place Names – Calling a place by its right name is a path toward wisdom.
  • Porcupine – Doty takes a twilight walk into Juniper Canyon in search of Mister Porcupine.

– Q –

– R –

  • Raccoons – Their rowdy night life in Ashland.
  • Rain – Coastal rain along the lower Rogue River.
  • Rain Rocks – Ancient carved boulders for controlling the weather.
  • Ready to Write! – Doty's writing table in the shack at the Lost Burro Mine.
  • Remembering Fire – Along the Illinois River of southern Oregon, in the scorched aftermath of the Biscuit fire, Doty and Coyote meet an old man who tells them stories about fire.
  • Remembering to Wake Up! – A prophecy about an 1840s eruption of Mount St. Helens, and the coming of the white people.
  • Return to the Village – Doty follows a white deer to a cave above the North Umpqua River where he finds Coyote, Bear, and Panther, acting out an Old Time story. Doty joins in.
  • Ribs of the Animal – Doty borrows Coyote's buckskin bag of magical masks and makes seasonal treks to the Table Rocks, the center of the Takelma universe, where most anything is possible.
  • Rolling Heads – Some sheet music, Rollhead Owls and a Daruma doll inspire insights into Captain Jack's surrender at the end of the Modoc War.
  • Rolling in the Ashes – The effects of fire along on the community of Somes Bar along the Klamath River, especially students in the school where Doty is sharing stories.
  • Room Enough for Us All – As his native play opens in the fall of 2001, Doty ponders the connection between the devastation of the eruption of Mount Mazama 7000 years ago and the 9/11 bombings in New York.

– S –

  • Sacred Trust – An Old Time agreement with the Salmon People.
  • Safety – The rock writing symbol that marks a safe place.
  • Season of Stories – Winter is the time for creating stories, dreaming stories, telling stories.
  • Shadows – Each morning, native people call their shadows home.
  • Shapasheni (2) – A description of the Modoc name, Shapasheni, and the ridge "where the sun and moon live."
  • Siskiyou – Doty contemplates the origin of the word Siskiyou.
  • Snake, The – An ancient story about friendship from the southern Oregon coast.
  • Snakes – Native symbols of good luck and longevity.
  • Solitude – At Squaw Lake before the holiday crowds.
  • Spiders – Symbols of good fortune and weavers of destiny.
  • Stories and Light – Doty contemplates light in storytelling, and in gazing at rock writings.
  • Stories and Truth – An exploration of the various levels of truth in native stories.
  • Storyteller of Buckhorn Springs, The – On the winter solstice, Doty and Coyote and Fox Girl meet Gwisgwashan and her storyteller friends at Buckhorn Springs in southern Oregon. One night, everyone gathers in front of the fire in the lodge, and act out the story of this sacred place of healing.
  • Story Tree at Kilchis Point – 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.

– T –

  • Thunderstorm – From Shasta to Pilot Rock to Devil's Peak, rain-streaked clouds curtain the Cascades.
  • Tourists – Early March and the tourists are in Ashland.
  • Tracking Coyote – Looking ahead and looking behind at McCormack Slough along the Columbia River.
  • Trains – Doty's childhood love of trains.
  • Trek to Table Mountain – Doty and Coyote visit an aging anthropologist who lives in an abandoned fire lookout in the Cascades. The old man describes how he discovered the power of stories he spent a lifetime collecting. As winter settles in, he tells an Old Time myth about the first war when Jackrabbit clearcut the forests.
  • Truths of Trees, The – 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.

– U –

  • Underground Visions – Two vision quest sites in caves and the rock writings that describe them.
  • Unwanted House Guests of Muskrats – Story of Finley and Bohlman's adventures at Tule Lake and Malheur Lake in the early 1900s, and the challenge of pitching camp in the tules.

– V –

  • Visit, The – At his mountain home, on the winter solstice, Doty gets a visit from an old friend.
  • Voices – In an old growth forest, on the last evening of spring.
  • Voices of the Rock People – Doty and Coyote and an old man journey across the dry lakebed of Fern Ridge Reservoir, following the old course of Coyote Creek. Along the way, they meet Coyote's grandmother, and another Doty and Coyote. The two coyotes act out a story about the Frog People.

– W –

  • Waiting for Rock Old Woman – 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 Sexton Mountain to the traditional home of Rock Old Woman.
  • Watchers – Keeping watch on native cultures.
  • Water – Native people are water people.
  • We Are the Stories! – Doty joins others in a native lodge. Sitting in a circle around the fire, they tell every story they can remember.
  • We Who Watch the River – Doty and Coyote journey up the Columbia River. Coyote has numerous adventures. He meets a man with no mouth, and Tsagiglalal (She Who Watches), and The Old Man of the Dalles. For a brief while, he becomes the Sun's assistant, before Doty and Coyote return to the mouth of the river.
  • When Animals Talk – Trapped in a museum after hours, Doty and Coyote wander through the night and experience Mythtime in the high desert. They visit the Rollhead Owl People, the Otter People, the Porcupine People, and listen to their stories.
  • Where Koomookumpts Sleeps – Doty tells a childhood story of his first trek to Koomookumpts' Bed, the home of the Modoc creator.
  • Where the Sun and Moon Live – 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.
  • Which Way to Dance – Native people dance their circle dances different directions for different reasons.
  • Woman Loved Trees, The – In this original native story, a woodcarver comes to terms with the loss of his wife.
  • Women – A contemplation of feminine energy.

– Y –