Choctaw Nation release
OKLAHOMA CITY – Tim Tingle has been awarded the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award by the Oklahoma Center for the Book. The Choctaw storyteller and author is well known in southeastern Oklahoma. He takes the stage every year at the Choctaw Nation Labor Day Festival, he shares ancient tribal tales at schools, libraries and colleges, and he turns both oral and documented histories of the area into books for children and adults. “House of Purple Cedar,” “Salty Pie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light” and “Crossing Bok Chitto” are a few of his award-winning works.
On Saturday, Apr. 7, Tingle was recognized at the 29th Annual Oklahoma Book Awards. Held at the historic Skirvin Hilton in downtown Oklahoma City, the ballroom was filled with authors, artists, librarians, teachers and book lovers from across the region. Two former governors were present: Frank Keating, in the capacity as a nominee for his new book “Abraham” and George Nigh, who served as emcee of the event.
Soft-spoken and eloquent, Tingle, as so often in his presentations, had the room leaning forward and hanging on his every word as he accepted the honor.
Tingle opened with the word “Yakoke,” Choctaw for thank you. He asked everyone to say “thank you,” in whatever language they chose, to the memory of a teacher who had impacted them. He then told the story of his first break, meeting a professor at the University of Oklahoma, who directed him to write a paper on interviews with Choctaw elders which led to his book “Walking the Choctaw Road.”
Tingle, who resides near San Antonio, was introduced to the podium by his son Jacob Tingle, who also lives in that Texas metropolitan area.
Ron Wallace, Southeastern Oklahoma State University adjunct professor of English, won in the Poetry category for his book “Renegade (and Other Poems).” The Durant native is a four-time finalist for the award and a three-time winner of the Oklahoma Writers Federation Best Book of Poetry Award.
Also, a rare presentation was made of the Director’s Award which went to “The Survivor Tree” by Gaye Sanders. It’s a story told from the viewpoint of an elm tree. Planted in Oklahoma City, it witnesses the nearby destruction of Alfred P. Murrah Building April 19, 1995. The charred and battered tree was to be cut down when it suddenly sprang new leaves and became a symbol of hope for Oklahoma and America.
“I am a teacher,” said Sanders in her acceptance. “I went to work that day not knowing what was to happen. The children and I vowed never to forget.”