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Bearer of the Morning


Mary Frances “Te Ata” Thompson was born and raised in the Chickasaw Nation, where her family settled following the removal of 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, discouraging tribal traditions and allotting 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. Throughout her travels and performances, Te Ata kept her Chickasaw heritage close to heart and shared the unique story and spirit of the Chickasaw people.

By studying and performing traditional Native American stories, she overturned negative stereotypes and advocated the preservation of Indigenous American cultures.

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 guests - the King and Queen of England.

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Educational Curriculum


Te Ata Curriculum Elementary Student

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Te Ata Curriculum Elementary Teacher

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Te Ata Curriculum Secondary Student

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Te Ata Curriculum Secondary Teacher

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About the Chickasaw Nation