Books That Inspire 2005

Walking the Choctaw Road
Tim Tingle

Walking the Choctaw Road transcends Native American cultures and speaks to the depth of family relationships. The chronological anthology of twelve stories frames a literary triptych, painting a canvas from the days when Choctaws lived in Mississippi, through the Trail of Tears into Okla Homma, and culminating in a personal retro-spective of Tingle’s own family.

The stories are based on a mixture of historical accounts, traditional lore, and everyday life derived from interviews with Choctaw elders. Tingle’s offering is multidimensional. On one level, we are challenged to reflect upon movement and displacement of family. The stories “Trail of Tears,” “Saltypie,” “Crossing Bok Chitto,” and “Caleb” speak to the removal from one’s homeland. On an emotive level, Tingle challenges the reader to think about family, personal ideas of home, and religious belief systems. Introspectively, the opening trilogy consisting of “Crossing Bok Chitto,” “The Beating of Wings,” and the “Trail of Tears” reflects the Choctaw values of freedom, dignity, and life that transcends all cultures.

Metaphorically, the opening trilogy represents the whole of the soul with “Crossing Bok Chitto” as the legs (movement), “The Beating of Wings” as the arms (transcending spirit), and “Trail of Tears” as the heart of the book. In the words of Tingle, “I would hope that Oklahomans, and other readers of my book, would make renewed efforts to strengthen family bonds, heeding the lesson learned in Archie’s War.”
Bruce Roberts
Director of Academic Programs
University Outreach