Dovie Thomason is an award-winning storyteller, recording artist, and author of Lakota, Apache, and Scot Traveller (an itinerant cultural group from Scotland) descent. She is recognized internationally for her ability to craft tales that enchant audiences while teaching invaluable lessons about human nature and Indigenous worldviews. With intergenerational appeal, Thomason shares traditional stories, enriched by her experiences working alongside tradition bearers of diverse Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and Algonquian nations.
Raised in the Southern Plains her father’s family has called home for millennia, Dovie absorbed the tales told to her by her relatives, especially her grandmother and her father. “I fell in love with stories when I was just a girl,” Dovie explained to the BBC. “I was surrounded by them. I was really fortunate, because my father would tell us stories. And I, of all the nine in my family, was the one who was most drawn to them. And my grandmother would tell me these brilliant stories—stories about animals and heroes and women of great power. And in each story, there was usually a small lesson—sometimes a large lesson. And how large the lessons were in those stories I’ve only learned as I’ve grown older.”
This exposure to the rich oral traditions of her mixed heritage set Thomason on a path to listen and learn and share the stories, to give people a better understanding of cultures and values of the First Nations of North America. Alongside the traditional Indigenous tales, she also adds original personal and historical narratives. Drawing inspiration from her own life, she has explored issues of identity, family, and community, and shone an uncompromising light on the conflicted legacy of the government boarding schools charged with “re-educating” Native American children.
Dovie began telling stories publicly while teaching literature and writing at an urban high school in Cleveland. In the nearly 40 years since then, Dovie has shared stories throughout North America, Europe, and New Zealand, on reservations and maraes, at powwows and conferences, and in schools and libraries from Belgium to California. She has represented the U.S. twice as the featured storyteller in Estonia: EU City of Culture and the HeadRead Literary Conference. In the States, she has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts as a Master Traditional Teaching Artist, and her voice was the first one heard in the Rasmusen Theater at the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian. She has appeared at major storytelling festivals both in the U.S. and abroad and at venues ranging from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre to the Kennedy Center. In 2015, Thomason was the first American to be honored as the Storyteller/Writer-in-Residence at the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture.
Establishing a rapport and bond with listeners of all ages, Dovie creates a climate where laughter, learning, and respect come together. Her storytelling transmits her life’s experience of Indigenous oral tradition and transforms it for today’s audiences.