Independent Cinema: “Te Ata” — Chickasaw Storyteller – American Treasure


Mary Thompson Fisher was born Dec. 3, 1895, near Emet, Oklahoma, in what was then called Indian Territory. Mary later took the stage name and became well known as “Te Ata” which means “Bearer of the Morning.” A citizen of The Chickasaw Nation, Te Ata was an accomplished actor and teller of Native American stories.

During the prime of her more than 60-year career, she performed in England and Scandinavia, at the White House for President Franklin Roosevelt, for the King and Queen of Great Britain, and on stages across the United States. Among her accomplishments was appearing on Broadway before taking her career down a path that honored her Native American heritage.

This year, the Chickasaw Nation will release a new feature film based on the inspiring and true story of her life called Te Ata. The film tells the story of how this young girl in Indian Territory followed her dreams to perform and share the stories of her culture to the world. Starring as “Te Ata” is actress Q’orianka Kilcher. Mackenzie Astin portrays Clyde Fisher. Also in the movie is well-known Native American actor Graham Greene (actor). This film has been approved by The Dove Foundation for family viewing.

There are two great books about Te Ata available:
“Te Ata: Chickasaw Storyteller – American Treasure” by Richard Green is available through the Chickasaw Press. (https://www.chickasawpress.com/Books/Te-Ata-br-Chickasaw-Storyteller-•-American-Treas.aspx)

“Te Ata: Oklahoma Cultural Treasuer” by Pati Hailey is part of the “I Am Oklahoma Children’s Series” through Oklahoma Heritage Association Publishing. (http://store.oklahomaheritage.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=ChildrensSeries_Ata)

The book written by Te Ata, “Baby Rattlesnake” is available at Lee & Low Books. (https://www.leeandlow.com/books/2806)

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