My name is Tricia Velure Nissen. I love talking with older people, always have. We tend to share a favorite topic – “the old days” – which has inspired every part of my life. That love has gravitated me toward the experiences that have prepared me for THIS, the time when I get to spend my days with elders, listen to their stories, and help pass those stories on to their families.
My earliest memories are filled with the elders my parents took me to visit. Henry and Thelma, Oscar and Helen, Birger and Myrtle – they were among my earliest friends while growing up on the family farm my great grandfather started in North Dakota. Older people far outnumbered kids, and I took every opportunity to ask them about one-room schools, basket socials, and how to do everything from churn butter to butcher chickens. My curiosity of the past led me to bachelor and master’s degrees in history, while learning the arts of interviewing, writing and archiving along the way.
After working a few years for North Dakota’s largest county historical society, I followed a young man to Minneapolis-St. Paul, and surprised myself with a 19-year career in public relations. I worked for the kind, wise Bob Goff, owner of the communications firm Goff Public and a former history teacher. Bob taught me everything I hadn’t already learned about having a great conversation. I primarily served Native American communities and clients – most notably the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community – and I admired their respect for elders above all else. Their desire to capture and share oral history nurtured my appreciation for stories from everyday life, which often feel ordinary when lived, but turn extraordinary when told. For me, storytelling is the art of sharing those memories, and I’ve been doing it since I learned to write.
Storyography focuses on capturing elders’ life stories and sharing those stories with their families. As a historian and biographer, I’m giving current and future generations the gift of history. Spending time with elders is my greatest joy, and helping them preserve and share their stories with their kids and grandkids is my life’s purpose.
Please contact me to discuss how I can help your family preserve its history. I am also available as a storytelling resource to individuals and organizations, both as a writer and writing coach.
Elders: my term of respect for older adults, borrowed from Native American cultures, because elders are our keepers of wisdom
Home base: Minneapolis-St. Paul, and happy to travel to you as needed
Past work experiences: Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe (Director of Public Relations); Goff Public (Director of Writing and Strategic Communication); Cass County Historical Society at Bonanzaville (Marketing Manager)
Master’s degree: History, magna cum laude, North Dakota State University
Undergraduate degrees: History and English, summa cum laude, Valley City State University