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The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress presents

The Homegrown 2011 Concert Series
Traditional Ethnic and Regional Music and Dance that's "Homegrown" in Communities Across the US

June 29, 2011 Event Flyer

D.J. Battiest-Tomasi and Tim Tingle
Oklahoma Choctaw Storytellers and Flute Players

 D.J. Battiest-Tomasi and Tim Tingle flyer

In 1830, leaders of the Choctaw Nation signed a treaty with the United States of America. This is one of several treaties completed with the five large tribes of the Old South including the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Seminole, Muscogee (Creeks), and the Choctaw. These tribes were mostly moved overland to the place now called Oklahoma. In 1830, the place did not appear on any map and was largely unexplored. They were, in truth, exiled from The United States. They left Mississippi in 1832 and many died en route to the new land. These treks of the tribes have come to be known as the Trail of Tears. Each tribe has its own story of suffering and loss. So it is true of the Choctaw people.

Once they arrived in the new land they began the first era of pioneering for Oklahoma, establishing schools, working with missionaries, and creating a government in their new home. This was both a sorrowful time and a time of great achievement. They were survivors. Later, the imposition of Indian Boarding schools outlawed their native language. Gradually governmental control ended the Choctaw Nation with the beginning of the State of Oklahoma in 1907. Choctaws and other Native Americans could not vote, but still served with great distinction in the United States armed forces.

Although language and traditions were lost, many remained true to the old ways and remembered the old stories and way of life. Current Choctaw Chief Gregory Pyle initiated a Choctaw language program in public schools in the part of Oklahoma originally identified as the Choctaw Nation. This was a study in native language, not foreign language. Today many more speakers of the old language can be found at Choctaw gatherings. But this is only part of the restoration of the Nation. The old stories are very important, including the stories from Indian boarding school days, from military service, and from everyday life.

Our performers, D J Battiest Tomasi and Tim Tingle, are members of the Choctaw Nation, and both are masters of the traditional American Indian flute. Tim is also the designated storyteller for the annual gathering of the Choctaw Nation in Tuskahoma, Oklahoma. His book Walking the Choctaw Road is a collection of stories about Choctaws' long walk from their ancestral home in Mississippi, as well as other stories. The small book gives a glimpse of Choctaw traditions and values in a form suitable for all ages. He has also written Saltiepie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light, and a beautiful children's book, Crossing Bok Chito. D J combines her flute, storytelling skills, and her skills as a family counselor to provide music and story with a healing effect. She seems to mesmerize audiences with her soft voice and gentle flute. D J's CD, Healing Spirit, is available on the web. Both performers speak Choctaw and weave their language into their performances. They are also gifted wordsmiths who use everyday English with great skill. They represent the Chief of the Choctaw Nation at official gatherings in Oklahoma and elsewhere. Both also search for many stories from family, friends, and elders in the Choctaw Nation.

The name Oklahoma is a combination of Choctaw words: okla and humma meaning red people or "home of red people" as it is interpreted today. Today, the Choctaw Nation is home to the timber industry, ranching, farming, oil and gas production, and an outdoorsman’s paradise of water, woods, mountains, and the rich heritage of the Choctaw people.

Rodger Harris,
Coordinator Oklahoma Folklife Council

American Folklife Center Logo The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to "preserve and present American Folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs, and training. The Center includes the American Folklife Center Archive of folk culture, which was established in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world. Please visit our web site.


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   March 25, 2015
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