Author & Choctaw Storyteller
Author & Choctaw Storyteller
Tim Tingle is an Oklahoma Choctaw and an award-winning author and storyteller. His great-great grandfather, John Carnes, walked the Trail of Tears in 1835, and his paternal grandmother attended a series of rigorous Indian boarding schools in the early 1900’s. Responding to a scarcity of Choctaw lore, Tingle began collecting tribal stories in the early 90’s.
In 1992, Tingle began mentoring with Choctaw storyteller Charley Jones. He retraced the Trail of Tears to Choctaw homelands in Mississippi and began recording stories of tribal elders. His family experiences and these interviews with fellow Choctaws in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Oklahoma----and surprise encounters with Choctaws as far away as Bethel, Alaska----are the basis of his most important writings.
His latest middle grade novel, How I Became a Ghost, (Roadrunner Press, May 2013), pulls heavily from these interviews. It is a fictional first-person account of a young boy who “becomes a ghost” on the Trail of Tears, but stays on the walk to help family and friends survive. Filled with humor and elements of traditional lore to soften the tragedy, HIBaG includes a shape-shifting panther/teenager, a five-year old ghost sister, a talking dog, and a headstrong teenage girl who refuses to give up.
In June of this year, Danny Blackgoat, Navajo Prisoner will be released. A Hilo novel, for teens who read on a more basic level, this tale follows the misadventures of a tough sixteen year-old on the Navajo Long Walk of 1864. Danny fights bullying soldiers, rattlesnakes, and his own fiery temper, till he meets an older prisoner who devises a dangerous escape plan. Danny Blackgoat, Rugged Road to Freedom, continues the history-based saga of the imprisonment of innocent Navajos.
House of Purple Cedar is set for release in January of 2014. Fifteen years in the crafting, this novel describes the struggles of Choctaws in pre-statehood Oklahoma, through the eyes of a young girl who witnesses the burning down of New Hope Academy boarding school. Filled with hope in the most tragic of circumstance, HoPC is Tingle’s testiment to Choctaw elders who continue to watch over the well-being of the Choctaw Nation and its people.
Every Labor Day, Tingle performs a Choctaw story before Chief Gregory Pyle’s State of the Nation Address, a gathering that attracts over ninety thousand tribal members and friends. In June of 2011, Tingle spoke at the Library of Congress and presented his first performance at the Kennedy Center, in Washington, D.C. He was also a tribal storyteller at “Choctaw Days,” a celebration honoring the Oklahoma Choctaws at the Smithsonian. He has been a featured storyteller at festivals in forty-two states, including five appearances at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee.
From 1986-1990, Tingle took regular trips to Mexico, collecting Hispanic ghost stories. He spent his summers in intensive language schools in Cuernavaca and San Miguel de Allende, obtaining a level of fluency in Spanish. Many folktales he learned from these journeys appear in his books for middle school readers, including three versions of “La Llorona.” This tale is one of his most requested oral performance pieces.
Tingle received his Masters Degree in English Literature at the University of Oklahoma in 2003, with a focus on American Indian studies. While teaching freshmen writing courses and completing his thesis, “Choctaw Oral Literature,” Tingle wrote his first book, Walking the Choctaw Road. It was selected by both Oklahoma and Alaska on the “One Book, One State” program, and was read by students and adults in communities throughout these states. The Anchorage Daily News sponsored Tingle on a two-week tour of Alaskan cities, including remote towns accessible only by sled and frozen rivers in the nine-month winter. WTCR is now studied at universities across the United States and abroad.
As a visiting author and performer, Tingle reaches audiences numbering over 200,000 annually. In 2009, he received a fellowship to write and produce a documentary film, “The Choctaw Lighthorsemen,” a historical look at the tribal police force. The film premiered in Honolulu in September of 2011. He has completed eleven speaking tours for the U.S. Department of Defense, performing stories to children of military personnel stationed in Germany.
His first children’s book, Crossing Bok Chitto, (Cinco Puntos Press, 2005), garnered over twenty state and national awards, including Best Children’s Book from the American Indian Library Association, and was an Editor’s Choice in the New York Times Book Review.
In 2010, Tingle welcomed the release of two books; Saltypie, a children’s illustrated story of his childhood. Also in 2010, Tingle contributed a story, “Rabbit’s Tail Tale,” to a multiple award-winning anthology, Trickster. Both Saltypie and Trickster were selected as 2011 American Library Association Notable Books.
2013, a Banner Year for Tingle, as he welcomes the release of three novels!
How I Became a Ghost,
Danny Blackgoat, Navajo Prisoner, and
Danny Blackgoat, Rugged Road to Freedom.
And novel number four? Well, you’ll have to wait till January of 2014 for the release of House of Purple Cedar, Tingle’s first adult novel.