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Through a New Lens

Storyteller and author Tim Tingle

Yesterday is a bridge to tomorrow

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

  Choctaw storyteller and author Tim Tingle will be one of the featured artists at the Smithsonian's Museum of the American Indian where he will be telling a version of "No Name" a Choctaw story about father-son conflict in a modern 2014 setting. Tingle has published 12 books and received numerous accolades and awards including the Talking Leaves Award in 2009, the John Henry Faulk Award in 2003 and the Oracle Award in 2003. With over 200 stories still untold, Tingle is grateful for his heritage and those storytellers who came before him who willingly mentored and shared what he now willingly shares with others, a rich, beautiful Choctaw culture.

From the banks of Canyon Lake in Texas, at a leathertopped desk in a room filled with books from his favorite authors, Tingle has over 200 stories still to be told. He considers the art of Choctaw storytelling and book writing to be a "responsibility" that he has and has dedicated himself to researching and sharing the true stories of the Choctaw people through the crafting of vibrant historical stories with lovable and believable characters.

  Tingle is able to offer a bridge into the past where audiences can learn about the beautiful cultural parts of the Choctaw people, as well as, "the bad and the ugly things" as a nation Choctaws have had to overcome in an entertaining and educational way. This bridge into the past is important Tingle says, "so that hopefully we don't make the same mistakes" and we can offer others outside the Nation a more accurate history in a "loving, and forgiving way." This is something he learned from others before him including his most influential mentors Charley Jones and Archie Mingo.

  Using the past, as a way to appreciate the present, is something that Tingle personally practices. Tingle says, "from the beginning to the end of the day, little rituals remind me of who I am and also to respect the people who have gone on in hopes they will be there when we need them."

  He speaks to all age groups from pre-K to college level but says his most favorite audiences are the fourth- through seventhgraders. "I enjoy all groups, but at this age level you can tell stories that are serious and humorous. They understand a lot more elements of humor. Also, their values aren't already in place so if you reach them with stories that mean something to them, they will stay with them forever."

  Although Tingle's schedule is full with conferences, association participation and workshops this summer, his newest book should be published in June. Based on the Choctaw story "No Name," his new book will be a contribution to the HiLo series of novels written for teens. Through his storytelling and writing, Tingle offers a unique opportunity for younger generations to identify with their culture, their difficulties and important life lessons.

  Tingle says that what he noticed most about the writers and storytellers of the past is, "their stories are not gone and so they will live on." Tingle also paid respects to his grandmother, previous teachers and many great Choctaw historians and educators such as Clara Sue Kidwell for helping to get to the "true" Choctaw history.

  As an author, he is very grateful to be Choctaw. He says that one of the most remarkable things about being Choctaw is "forgiveness is so much a part of the culture, and a powerful part of the culture. We've all done wrong but if we continue to blame people for the wrongs that they've done, we can't grow. It keeps the darkness around us. If we forgive, it brings light. We are people who forgive, that's part of our culture."

  In September, Tingle will be a featured author at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., and he is a recent recipient of the 2014 American Indian Youth Literature Award to be presented by the American Indian Library Association.

Tim Tingle
Storyteller, Tim Tingle                                                              Choctaw Nation     

This article and others came from the Choctaw Nation Biskinik. To see more history please refer to the following sites.


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