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Author Tim Tingle Receives Award


Award-winning Canyon Lake author and Oklahoma Choctaw Tim Tingle will receive the Oklahoma Center for the Book’s 2018 Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement award this Saturday, April 7 at the Oklahoma Book Awards banquet in Oklahoma City.

The internationally acclaimed writer and storyteller has won multiple awards for some 13 fiction and non-fiction books about Native American life since publishing Walking the Choctaw Road in 2003. Most of his stories are aimed at middle-graders and young adults.

“He’s one of the preeminent Native American authors in the country at this point,” says Jeanne Devlin, president of the Friends of the Oklahoma Center for the Book.

She describes him as a “hoot” who enthralls audiences of all ages when he speaks — “whether they’re two or 82.”

The follow-up to Tingle’s How I Became a Ghost, which won the 2014 Indian Youth Literature Award, will be available in limited edition at the awards ceremony, she says. The book is titled When a Ghost Talks, Listen.

In 2016, Tingle’s novel House of Purple Cedar won the American Indian Youth Literature Award.

When Tye Preston Memorial Library’s Youth Services Librarian Betsey Leitko reached out to Tingle to plan spring break activities, she says he responded eagerly at the chance to perform storytelling for children.

“The morning of the program people arrived early and were so excited to see Tim,” she says. “The adults might have been more excited than the kids. From adults to young children, he captivated them with his stories and music. He involved all ages in his storytelling and everyone had such a great time.

“We look forward to having Tim back out at the library again soon.”

Storytelling with Canyon Lake’s Joe “Doc” Moore

Tingle also co-authored three books of Texas ghost stories with longtime Canyon Lake-resident Joe “Doc Moore,” now deceased. Moore’s dog, Duke, was the inspiration for Jumper, the talking dog in How I Became a Ghost. Moore was a storyteller, folklorist, author and professor at Southwest Texas State University.

Like Moore, Tingle also is known as a master storyteller who breaks down the boundaries between audience and stage, often tossing casual asides to audience members during impromptu intermissions before as many as 200,000 people annually. According to his website, timtingle.com, he’s completed eight speaking tours for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Trail of Tears

Tingle’s great-grandfather John Carnes walked the Trail of Tears in 1835 when the Cherokee nation was forced to leave ancestral lands east of the Mississippi and migrate to what is now the state of Oklahoma.

His grandmother was a full-blooded Choctaw. In 1993, Tingle retraced his ancestor’s route to Choctaw homelands in Mississippi and began recording stories of tribal elders.

His first children’s book, Crossing Bok Chitto, won more than 20 state and national awards and was selected as an Editor’s Choice by New York Times Book Review.

In June 2011, Tingle spoke at the Library of Congress and presented his first performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

About Tingle

He earned his master’s degree in English literature — with a focus on American Indian studies — while attending the University of Oklahoma in 2003. While teaching writing courses and completing his thesis, “Choctaw Oral Literature,” Tingle wrote his first book, Walking the Choctaw Road.

It was selected as book of the year in both Oklahoma and Alaska.

Son Jacob Tingle, Ph.D., is a faculty member at Trinity University. Grandson Niko and Finnegan are named for Greek novelist Nikos Kazantzakis and James Joyce’s novel Finnegan’s Wake.

The Arrell Gibson lifetime award is named for Norman historian Arrell Gibson, first president of the Oklahoma Center for the Book. It recognizes writers whose body of work contributes to Oklahoma’s literary heritage.


Tingle’s repertoire includes over 100 oral performance pieces suitable for all grade levels, college students and adult-festival audiences.

A sampling:

K-2 “Grandmother Spider Brings the Fire” – a traditional Choctaw story of a tiny, elderly spider who succeeds with careful planning and courtesy while braggarts fail.

3-5th “Crossing Bok Chitto” – based on the award-winning book, this oft-requested story follows a Choctaw girl, Martha Tom, and her friendship with Lil MO and his pre-Civil War family of American plantation workers. Accompanied by a drum and Choctaw chants, Martha Tom leads a daring nighttime escape to freedom.

Middle grade/festival audiences – “Amafo and the Panther,” from House of Purple Cedar, chronicles a trip to a friend’s house that ends in darkness, icy sleet and deep-woods danger as a black panther stalks Rose, a 12-year-old Choctaw girl, her mother and her little brother.

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