Storyteller-in-residence: Dovie Thomason

Indigenous storyteller offers assistance at U of M Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture

Photo provided by the Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture.

The imagination can run wild in the hands of a great story and its storyteller. Dovie Thomason—the current storyteller-in-residence at the University of Manitoba Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture (CCWOC)—focuses on sharing traditional indigenous tales. Beginning her tenure in January of 2015, Thomason will be available at the university until the beginning of April.

The U of M faculty of arts has been revered for bringing in unique writers and storytellers for the CCWOC. The inaugural residency was Aboriginal poet Gregory Scofield in the 2007 fall semester. In fall 2014, the CCWOC had playwright Liz Duffy Adams come in for the faculty’s residency. Dovie Thomason is the first American to be granted the position.

Thomason’s works have been highly coveted even outside the realm of storytelling. In 2009, Thomason performed a talk on space exploration and the need for “native science” at a Tedx Leadership Conference. The storyteller has also performed various keynotes, workshops, and consultations for organizations such as the American Folklore Society and NASA.

Thomason is grateful for the residency at the CCWOC and spoke highly about the knowledge and wisdom gained from her time at the U of M.

“The variety of a day is brilliant. The hardest thing for me is to not just let myself get distracted and blown away by the amount of experiences that could happen,” Thomason told the Manitoban.

As a Lakota/Kiowa Apache indigenous woman, Thomason’s influence began as a child with her grandmother. The stories were communicated in a traditional way with an intention to teach as well as entertain. They encompassed ideas of both practical advice and indigenous cultural values coupled with human affection and humour.

These stories assisted Thomason in her development as one of the most admired storytellers of her generation.

As part of the residency, Thomason has office hours to share her wisdom and assist with aspiring artists with their various works.

“Someone could come in because they are working on a song, or a poem, an autobiography, or a novel [ . . . ] It could be a retired woman, it could be an undergrad. It could be someone from the community,” said Thomason.

“It’s not just students; it’s students, faculty and [the] Winnipeg community.”

Along with assisting the citizens of Winnipeg at the CCWOC, Thomason has used her time at the U of M to explore the “great city” of Winnipeg.

“Winnipeg is lively. [There is] a lot going on in the arts [ . . . ] a lot going on in indigenous issues,” said Thomason.

Dovie Thomason is available for help with creative writing until the first week of April. Her office is located at 391 University College, with office hours on Mondays from 1:30-3:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Thomason is also available by appointment.