Bearer of the Morning

Mary Frances “Te Ata” Thompson was born and raised in the Chickasaw Nation, where her family had settled following removal of the Chickasaw People from their original tribal homelands of Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky.

Thompson’s birth coincided with the United States efforts to dismantle tribal governments, discourage tribal traditions and allot collective tribal lands to individual tribal citizens. During this time of government enforced assimilation, Thompson stood out as a voice for cultural preservation.

She embraced the Chickasaw tradition of storytelling and transformed herself into the world-renowned performer, Te Ata. As Te Ata, she traveled the country collecting Native stories and sharing them with audiences.

By preserving and telling these stories, Te Ata educated the public about Native American culture, overturned popular stereotypes perpetuated by the media and improved social conditions for Native peoples.

In this one-hour documentary, discover how this dynamic Chickasaw woman successfully navigated the social, geographic and cultural distances to become one of the most successful Native American performers in history.

Follow Te Ata’s illustrious career, wherein she entertained and educated audiences, including President Franklin and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and their quests - the King and Queen of England.

Last Updated: 10/19/2017