Profession: Ancestral Skills Teacher
Woniya Thibeault can’t remember a time when connection to the natural world around her wasn’t a primary focus of her life. Raised in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California, her childhood was spent swimming the local lakes and rivers and learning the names of wildflowers.
By the time she was in college, childhood dreams became real life, and she split her time between studying biology and running around barefoot in the woods learning ancestral skills like hide tanning, buckskin sewing, bow making, basketry, fiber arts, and more. Sharing her passion for these skills has since become her life’s work, and she teaches ancestral skills all over the United States through her business Buckskin Revolution. Her classes focus not just on ancestral and wilderness living skills, but on developing those practices that help us feel more connected to and more a part of the natural world around us.
Her time on Alone Season 6 was life-changing. It was not only an incredible opportunity to apply a lifetime of learning these skills, but to demonstrate to the world what is possible when one approaches a wilderness survival experience not from a place of fear or domination, but from a place of respect, connection, and belonging. What surprised her most out there wasn’t the challenge or discomfort, but the incredible joy and beauty she experienced, even as her body shrunk down to 2/3 of its former weight.
The outpouring of interest in her work has soared since the airing of Season 6; she has focused on several book projects and developing online courses and an online learning community.
When invited to return for another Alone experience, she didn’t hesitate. Woniya looks forward not just to challenging herself, but to experiencing again what it is to become a part of a wild living landscape, building the very muscles and bones of her body from the minerals in the rocks, plants and animals that surround her. Her goals for Alone this season are to explore how much connection, comfort and sustainability she can achieve in a wild landscape, even as she pushes her edges in the experience. After honing her skills snaring with fishing line Season 6, she’s excited to see what is possible when she actually brings snare wire.