The Center of Tribal Studies showcases Te Ata Film Series
TNE Editor

The Center of Tribal Studies showcases Te Ata Film Series

Published 4/13/18

Jalen Porter

TNE Writer

The Center of Tribal Studies has supported Indigenous students at NSU for many years. They have planned a variety of events over the past semester and is presenting a film series over Te Ata, honoring the late Indigenous hero.

The Center for Tribal Studies was created in 1990. Since then, it has become one of the central resources on campus for supporting academic effectiveness, improving the quality of student experiences, initiating scholarly activities, spanning communication between tribal nations and the university and inspiring a cultural heritage of the NSU community. They also support the Symposium on the American Indian.

This year marks the 46th annual Symposium. It is called, “Walking with our Ancestors: Preserving Culture and Honoring Tradition.” The theme focuses on the Indigenous community throughout the generations and reflects on how this history influences this generation. The organization provides the culture and honor of past traditions by bringing knowledge to the college community. They teach students the identity and the language, along with the sovereignty and the ways of their Indigenous ancestors.

“Being Native American is cool,” said Sylver Collins, Stilwell senior. “I can educate others about my culture and traditions on what I believe in spiritually. Educating others about my culture is awesome because it’s our job to keep culture, language and traditions alive for younger generations.”

The film series is a commencement to the Symposium of the American Indian. The film series highlights the accomplishments of Native Americans, as well as discusses certain issues in the community.

“In watching Te Ata, students will learn the story of a Chickasaw storyteller and actress Te Ata Fisher who performed for international audiences and world leaders,” said Charles Flint, Center of Tribal Studies member. “Te Ata Fisher is the great aunt of current United States congressman Tom Cole, who represents Oklahoma's 4th congressional district.”

Te Ata, also known as Mary Frances Thompson Fisher, was a traditional Native storyteller. Her parents were members of the Chickasaw Nation. Her father, T. B. Thompson was the last treasurer of the Chickasaw Nation and operated stores in Tishomingo. Te Ata's uncle, Douglas H. Johnston, was the last governor of the old Chickasaw Nation.

Te Ata attended high school in Tishomingo. She later attended Oklahoma College for Women in Chickasha where she acquired her mentor, Francis Densmore Davis. Davis is an Indian Culture writer and recognized the Te Ata’s talent.

Te Ata began to develop her style of storytelling by using American Indian resources. Her storytelling was often used in classical music played on the piano and small drums, rattles and other common traditional instruments. She later moved to New York City to pursue in theater and entertain the city’s social elite.

Te Ata performed for many people, including former President Franklin Roosevelt and the king and queen of Great Britain. She continued to go on tour across the world and influenced many people. Her legacy will continue to live on for not only the Native American community, but everyone around the world.

“I’ve seen fliers and posters about the film series,” said Jess Schuler, Sand Springs sophomore. “I have been interested to learn more about the Native American history.”

The film series is open to NSU students and the community free of charge. The event will start at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday April 17 in the Webb Auditorium.

For more information, email the Center of Tribal Studies at

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