Tchin explains that while such a story may not be true, it tells us an event from a perspective that is different from the scientific one, which can be healing. As an example, he met a woman who was grieving over the loss of her son. She was having a hard time dealing with the whole idea of death, and even found herself in the fruitless pursuit of picking up the leaves in autumn, and trying to glue them back to the trees. After he told her the story of the creation of autumn, that part of her was healed. It didn't change her sadness over her son dying. But it made her see the fall in a new way where she looked forward to it. And because it's a story of death, it helped in the process of healing from the loss of her son. He observes that you never know how a person is going to interpret a story, or how it might hit a certain part of their spirit. So, Story Telling can be healing in many ways.
Words Are Sacred
'Many times people ask me, how did I get started as a storyteller. Native American people, we grow up basically as that. We grow up hearing stories all the time. But we don't call them stories, legends or myths. To us, they are lessons, because they explain the universe.'
Tchin (pronounced 'chin) learned many of his lessons from Red Wing, a famous Narragansett woman who traveled the world telling traditional tales. He is also an avid researcher and many times is given the gift of lessons from other storytellers. To enrich his own cultural knowledge, He also studies folklore from around the world. 'I'm studying quite a bit about the Mideast at this time. I've studied ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and what you get out of all that is that you get to understand people more clearly'How the universe makes sense to them'it allows you to understand your universe that much better.'
Tchin was born in Norfolk, Virginia and was raised by his extended family. As a child, he attended segregated schools in rural Virginia, and was grouped with people of color. He also spent time with relatives in Rhode Island, learning more about his Narragansett culture. Ironically, the Narragansett tribe did not have a reservation at that time, and were not recognized as a tribe by the U.S. government.
When he was 15, he moved to New York City by himself. Too young to get a job, he worked for food and created Native jewelry, flutes, moccasins, and clothing. After ten years in New York, he was accepted to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). He studied at RISD, Brown University and the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. After receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from RISD, Tchin lived and worked in New York City, raising four daughters with his wife, Woo.
Today, Tchin is an internationally known, multi-award winning metalsmith, author, flutemaker, educator, folklorist and musician. He has performed at institutions from local schools to prestigious museums such as the Museum of Natural History, Peabody Museum, and The Museum of Man.