Author and Storyteller Tim Tingle to Receive 2017 Festival of Words Author Award

Tim Tingle (Choctaw) will receive the Tulsa Library Trust’s “Festival of Words Writers Award” March 4, 10:30 a.m., at Hardesty Regional Library’s Connor’s Cove, 8316 E. 93rd St.  His award presentation will be followed by a book signing and a day of educational American Indian family events from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

   The award, presented every other year, consists of a $5,000 honorarium and an engraved crystal.  Previous winners include: 2001, Joy Harjo (Muscogee Creek); 2003, Vine DeLoria Jr. (Standing Rock Sioux); 2005, Leslie Marmon-Silko (Laguna Pueblo) 2007, Carter Revard (Osage); 2011, LeAnne Howe, (Choctaw); 2013, Sterlin Harjo, (Seminole/Muscogee Creek); and 2015, Joseph Bruchac, (Abenaki).

   Tingle is a storyteller and award-winning author of books for children, teens and adults.  He earned his master’s degree in English Literature at the University of Oklahoma with a focus on American Indian studies.  Since the early 1990s, Tingle has spent hundreds of hours interviewing Choctaw tribal elders throughout the South in an effort to create a personal and historical narrative.

   In 2005, he was selected as the featured author for Oklahoma Reads Oklahoma, for his book, Walking the Choctaw Road.  This book features 12 stories with a mix of historical accounts, traditional lore and tales from everyday life.  Tingle collected stories through interviews with Choctaw tribal elders.  Told in chronological order, the stories range from the days when most Choctaws were living in Mississippi to the Trail of Tears, including difficulties in modern times.

   “My dad and his brothers and sisters told story after story of our family surviving the Trail of Tears,” recalled Tingle.  “John Carnes, my great, great grandfather was 10 years old when his town was burned to the ground and the journey began.  It seemed every weekend we children were treated to various versions of John’s story.”

   His first children’s book, Crossing Bok Chitto, earned more than 20 state and national awards, including Best Children’s Book from the American Library Association.  It also was named an Editor’s Choice by the New York Times Books Review.

   Tingle was a featured author and speaker at the 2014 National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., based on the critical acclaim for How I Became a Ghost, which won the 2014 American Indian Library Association Youth Literature Award.  How I Became a Ghost is told through the perspective of a young Choctaw boy, Isaac.  He recounts his tribe’s removal from the only land its people have ever known, and how their journey to Oklahoma led him to become a ghost – one with the ability to help those he left behind.  Isaac leads a remarkable group of Choctaw comrades; a tough-minded teenage girl, a shape-shifting panther boy, a lovable 5-year-old ghost who only wants her mom and dad to be happy, and Isaac’s talking dog, Jumper.

   His latest novel, House of Purple Cedar, won the 2016 American Indian Youth Literature Award.  Set in the 1890s in Spiro, Oklahoma, it describes challenges facing Choctaws and incoming white settlers.

   Every Labor Day, Tingle performs a Choctaw story before the Chief’s State of the Nation Address, a gathering that attracts more than 90,000 tribal members and friends.  In June of 2011, Tingle spoke at the Library of Congress and presented his first performance at the Kennedy Center, delivering a keynote address at the National Education Association’s Annual Assembly.

   Family events during the Festival of Words events include:


Genealogy Research - 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. - Second Floor - Tulsa City County Library’s Genealogy Center houses one of the largest genealogy collections in Oklahoma.  One of the highlights of the collection is their American Indian resources.  Discover the many services and resources available to family history researchers at the Center.


Native Culture Maker Spaces -11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. - First Floor - Come and enjoy a day of make and take!  Participants will get to take the projects home that they make.

·         Cherokee Pottery by Crystal Hanna

·         Fingerweaving by Michel Laudermilk

·         Cherokee Basket weaving by Choogie Kingfisher

·         Sculptures with Lisan and Dana Tiger

·         Pony bead key chains by Stella Foster


Children’s Crafts 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. -Children’s Area, First Floor – Families can enjoy a variety of different crafting areas to make a memento to take home.


Zoo 2 U: Oklahoma Wild - 11:30 a.m. & 12:30 p.m. - Story Time Room - Join us for Oklahoma wildlife! This family presentation from the Tulsa Zoo will bring a better understanding of the natural world while encouraging a healthy appreciation of wildlife and conservation. Audience limited to 50 participants per session. 


3rd Annual Preserving Our Tribal Languages Forum - 11:30 – 1:30 p.m. The Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission and the American Indian Resource Center will showcase the rich culture of native languages while focusing on native youth and children.  All tribes are invited to participate.

Presenters include:

  • Travis Mammasety (Kiowa)
  • Robin Soweka (Muscogee Creek)
  • George Blanchard (Absentee Shawnee)
  • Paul Barton (Seneca-Cayuga)
  • Tracy Moore (Osage)


Traditional American Indian Dance Exhibition Presented by All Nations Indian Youth 1:30 p.m. – First Floor - All Nations Indian Youth, coordinated by Alice White Cloud, is a group of intertribal dancers who perform a variety of traditional American Indian dances representing their different tribes.


Food Concessions - Back Street BBQ & Burgers


   Sponsors for the American Indian Festival of Words include the Tulsa Library Trust, Tulsa City-County Library’s American Indian Resource Center, The Maxine and Jack Zarrow Family Foundation, Dr. Frank and Mary Shaw, Friends of the Helmerich Library, Greater Tulsa Indian Affairs, and Tusla Indian Community Foundation.

   For more information on library programming, call the AskUs Hotline, 918-549-7323, or visit the library’s website,

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