Friday, March 6, 2009

Walking The Choctaw Road (and a personal account from my own oral history)

Walking The Choctaw Road
Stories from Red People Memory
by Choctaw Storyteller Tim Tingle
128 Pages
Fiction/Native American Studies
Cinco Puntos Press

Walking the Choctaw Road is a book filled with tales told from tongue to tongue, and heard generation after generation. Oral history and the beauty of a culture that makes the time to pass on wisdom, dreams, legends through communication, in person communication. Tingle grasps ancient tribal memories, supernatural events, and historical accounts to further the heritage of the present day Choctaw people. Walking the Choctaw Road contains eleven stories that give a glimpse into the core of the strength and desire to endure of the Choctaw people.

Tim Tingle doesn't leave out the horrors, the sadness or the tale of the journey, he embraces the devastation just as much as the victory as all being of equal importance to the generations to come. In a world of immediate gratification, I see the value in learning to wait, being patient, and not getting everything you want exactly when you first want it.

There is something magical in hearing words passed on which have endured generation after generation. I hope to someday have a chance to sit in on a storytelling, but for now I am satisfied with Tim Tingle and reading Walking the Choctaw Road. I enjoyed reading the stories, it holds and as I read I could imagine myself sitting listening to a master storyteller, with a deep voice and pacing slightly. This was a great read!

What books on Native Americans, storytelling, or oral history have you enjoyed? Is there oral history that you have felt it important to pass on to your descendants?

Personal oral history bit from my family that has passed on through generations:

The Ring

My great, great grandmother had a ring, a silver ring with a fabulous detailed setting and a medium sized diamond. She never took it off for fear of loosing it. One day after feeding her chickens she felt something was missing on her finger, and glanced down in horror to find her ring gone. It was her wedding ring and could not be replaced as it was purchased in the old country when her husband had a good job, now in the US life was much different. Immediately Grandma scavenged all over the house, swept over and over getting no dirt and no ring. She went outside where she had fed the chickens and searched for hours, she did not find the ring.

Many months later she went through the usual ritual of making a meal for her family. Grandpa butchered a chicken and she prepared the meat just as she knew he loved it most. Grandpa always enjoyed the gizzard and no one fought him for it. Grandma cleaned out the gizzard and was stunned with delight to find the ring inside! She then realized that her right must have slipped off that day she was feeding her hens and one had eaten it as chickens love anything shinny. Her second an more impacting was the second realization, that but for her husband being old fashioned and wanting to enjoy every slightly edible part of the bird, she never would have found her ring. She dropped everything and ran over to her husband, kissing him she thanked him repeatedly for giving her the most beautiful ring she had ever seen, twice.

This story is true, my mom has the ring. It is the most beautiful ring I have ever seen as well.
Do you have a family story to share?


bermudaonion said...

I love your family story. We do have a great family story, but it's kind of long and complicated for a comment on here.

Alyce said...

Your family story of the lost and found ring is wonderful! And what a great story to pass on to your children someday.

Heather said...

Wonderful story! One of mine that popped into my head was my great-great-great-great-grandmother, Annia Ohlsen, who came over from Denmark and homesteaded in Utah. One morning she went out to milk the cow in the temporary corral the men had set up, and while she was milking, a mountain lion jumped down on her from an overhanging tree, but she was able to wrestle it to the ground and hold it there till the men came running to kill it. Don't know how precisely true the story is (that is quite a few generations, after all), maybe it was "just" a bobcat, but who knows? I love it anyway. :)

As for Native Americans, I confess the most I've really read on the subject, as far as North American tribes go, is Tony Hillerman's Jim Chee/Joe Leaphorn mystery series, wherein Navajo culture plays center stage. For a more intellectual offering, I read a book in college about the Native perspective on La Conquista that you might find interesting: Vision de los Vencidos by Miguel Leon-Portillo

Dreamybee said...

What a great story! I can't imagine how thrilled your great-great-grandmother must have been to find that ring! We don't really have any stories like that in our family, nothing that reveals any family history at all. My grandpa is a pretty good story-teller, but he mostly tells stories about his days as a young man, working as a carpenter.

____Maggie said...

I cannot believe we didn't have this book in the library and I just now ordered it so we wouldn't look so inadequate!