Culture and Storytelling

Storytelling and Values: Below the Radar?

Storytelling and Values: Below the Radar?

Some storytellers have a social message they would like to deliver, but run into problems about telling stories that promote social change:

  • If they tell stories as part of their living, do they dare risk alienating potential customers or even their own supervisors or colleagues?

  • If they tell stories with a strong message (of any kind), do they risk alienating their listeners?

  • If they need to separate their “social change” storytelling from their bread-and-butter storytelling, how can they have the energy to do both?

But what if there’s a way that storytelling can promote important values “below the radar”?

What if the very processes of storytelling can be enlisted to promote values that will be crucial in making a future society even better than today’s society?

What if…

A Choctaw Response to Violence: Authenticity?

A Choctaw Response to Violence: Authenticity?

We live in a historical moment where hatred and violence are promoted, not only by individuals and splinter groups, but also by governments. Is it possible that we can learn how to hold onto our true selves in such a moment? 

What’s more, can we learn about that kind of authenticity from Native Americans, who have had a few hundred years of practice at the receiving end of hatred and violence?

Tim Tingle is a Choctaw storyteller and novelist, who work models a sense of connection that is rare in our wider society.

In fact, Tim’s novels for teens and young adults—mostly written in the historical past—show us something about what it might mean to be authentic today…

Tim Tingle: A Choctaw Approach to Authenticity

Tim Tingle: A Choctaw Approach to Authenticity

I first got to know Tim Tingle when I moved to Oklahoma in 2004. After my wife Pam and I had spent time with Tim in several contexts, he invited us to attend the Choctaw Nation’s annual Labor Day Festival in the tribal capitol, Tvshka Homma (Tuscahoma), Oklahoma.

Pam and I had the great privilege there of meeting some of the elders who had taught Tim his stories. But most of all, we got a glimpse of some unspoken parts of Choctaw culture.

A case in point: we heard many stories from Tim and from his friends about the jokes they had played on Tim...