The Wisdom Tree


Reviewed by Mary Bilbrey

The Wisdom Tree is a website and company that came into being because of a Native American woman’s love of story telling and love of her culture to be told. Kiyomi Ortega, also known as Running Deer, started out much like many beginning storytellers, with the knowledge that there was a story to be told and an unclear path of how to tell it. She started out in the classroom reading books to children, followed by becoming a storyteller for children, and ultimately her greatest feat to become the founder of “The Wisdom Tree” which is a company that entertains groups of children and adults with authentic Native American tales. Her mission is to get the message across by employing people who are gifted with the talent of being both entertaining as well as true to their culture and beliefs and willing to share those beliefs. Groups who witness The Wisdom Tree performance see a Native American ventriloquist who uses his dummies to tell the stories of the Native American heritage and to ask questions that many are too shy to ask. Kiyomi is very much a part of the show. Since getting the message of her cultures to others is her goal, she still finds it necessary to be apart of it all. The performances that her group presents include authentic Indian dances, performed by professional native dancers, music, and a trading post designed to replicate what a real trading post should look like. Kiyomi Ortega didn’t start her journey in storytelling to make money, she started in a classroom much like many other storytellers who have a desire to enrich others lives through stories. She had a desire to get her cultural message across so that others could learn of a heritage that so few of us know of and she wanted to do it in such a way that it is interesting, fun, educational, and entertaining.

One of the things that make this site so unique is that the site contains actual excerpts from some of their performances. You can hear the storytellers weaving their tales and you can hear the Indian flutes as they add to the uniqueness of the program. If you are interested in the Native American culture don’t miss out on the excerpts that are included in the video library on the site.

The Wisdom Tree website is dated with a 2002-2003 copyright date. No actual update dates were found on the site.

The Wisdom Tree Company caters to all types of groups but their primary focus appears to be education through offering its services to groups for family night performances, scouting events, festivals, and special school events. Under the testimonial radio button there are several quotes from teachers, children and principals writing on behalf of the high quality of the people who perform within the “Wisdom Tree” company. The quality of the website is well put together and a delight to look through. It includes examples of all aspects of their performance. The pages within the site are beautifully and tastefully designed and a pleasure to investigate. The site includes a home page of various methods of contact including phone numbers, addresses and email contact information.

The site does not use outside sources for authority reasons on its website and the accuracy of it’s information appears to be intact. I would highly recommend this site to anyone looking for a storyteller of the Native American culture.