Tim Tsoodle
Kiowa/Taos Pueblo
Part 1 of 3

"We began to read into the demeanor of the person who would come to the door, and be able to pick out, “Okay, is this a safe moment or is this a dangerous time? Is this one where we are going to have to huddle?” because a lot of times during abuses, my siblings and I would huddle in the corner. We would just hang on to each other as my mom would take the brunt, as she would try to stand between us and my father."

 

 

 

 

Transcript

Tim Tsoodle - Kiowa/Taos Pueblo - Part 1 of 3

My name is Tim Tsoodle. I’m a pastor here in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I am a Kiowa out of Oklahoma in Taos Pueblo here in from the northern parts of New Mexico.

I’m one of five children; I’m the second oldest one. As I was growing up on the Taos Pueblo reservation, we had a very unique opportunity to have been born into a Christian family. The Gospel came through both sides of my family, both from my Kiowa side and also from my Pueblo side, through my grandmothers. I thank God for their lives, and how they lived their lives as an example as someone who would follow Jesus Christ.

My grandmother in Taos married my grandfather who was Kiowa. He came to New Mexico, fell in love with this Pueblo gal, and stayed there for the rest of his life, leaving Oklahoma.

The gospel came, of course, through missionaries, many years ago, to my grandmother in Taos.

My grandmother in Oklahoma lived out near the area of Mountain View, Oklahoma, pretty much farmland. She went to a church at a place called Rain Mountain Church. Her opportunity to accept Christ into her life and to believe in Jesus Christ as being God’s Son happened when as she was an orphan many years ago, when she was at a boarding school with her two siblings, one older, one younger, and she spoke very highly of a missionary that would travel by horse every single a year, making a circuit visit, and as he visited he brought items for the children, and also brought the Gospel.

She very vividly gave pictures, word pictures, of how she would look off in the distance, and they all knew that he would be there around certain times of the year, and so they would look off into the distance, all these kids, if you could imagine them, looking off at the horizon.

Of course Oklahoma being very flat land, you were looking off at quite a bit of a distance, and they always looked for a figure, and the figure they always looked for was a man on a horse, riding in a particular posture, in a particular manner, and they knew that as he was getting closer, the children get more and more excited. And they would gather and just be excited to see this man, and when he would arrive he would have bags with him, and he would unload the horse and walk in, and the kids, if you could imagine… probably something you and I could relate to would be almost like Santa showing up with a large bag and with goodies for them to be excited about something.

And you can imagine, being orphans, them looking for something familiar, something they can be grounded in, and excited to see someone that they would recognize, that would come back and be a part of their lives every single year.

So as this man came one year, as he shared the Gospel, shared the truth of the Gospel, my grandmother and her two siblings, all of them accepted Christ into their lives, and that’s how the Gospel came to the Kiowa side for me.

Her husband was a tribal leader for quite a few years. She was known as a lady that was full of grace. She was very, very… showed a great sense of hospitality, and if you’re Native American you know exactly what I’m talking about, about having that being able to offer someone something or to help in some way.

And so as the Gospel spread from my grandmother, it came to my mom, and my mom married my father who became a military serviceman for twenty years in the army, and thus, as they were in Colorado Springs at Fort Carson military post, I was born there in 1958.

I was one of five, as I mentioned earlier, and as we grew up, we grew up in a military family, and if you’ve been a part of a military family, you know what that feels like. There’s times when you don’t have your father, whichever one is in the branch of service, you don’t have them with you, and so you kind of grow up with one parent really raising you.

We spent time, really, between Colorado and Oklahoma because, as my dad was off doing his military service, he would nest us with the grandparents, and that was just the most wonderful time because my grandparents knew the Gospel, and they made sure that the Gospel came to us as their grandchildren.

Many times as I think about the times at my grandparents would take me to church, I wouldn’t want to go but they would always make us go, and I thank God to this day that they did make us go, because, as the seed began to get planted more and more, early on in my life, life became more difficult, and we all know that life does, the older that we get.

And so, as I began to grow up and I began to hit my preteens, my family life, at that time, my mother was a believer, but my father really wasn’t. He was a man of the world and, of course, being military, that’s very much like being a part of a team, or a, you know, you felt more compassion, more desires to be around those folks than I think he really did his family at that particular time.

And of course, with that also came the introduction of being a part of a team that, you know, would drink and alcohol was there, and of course it became very difficult as a child, because I can honestly tell you that I can acknowledge that I was an abused child, of physically and mentally, and this is something that is deep on my heart now as a minister, because I know of many, many native families where abuse is a big part of their families, and yet it is something that gets suppressed. And I’ll talk a little bit later on about that.

And so, as the abuse began to happen, of course, and as my dad began to come up through the rank structure of the military and eventually become a drill instructor, and you can imagine what family life was like. Having to live with a person that strived for perfection, as a way of having approval, and that the family had to rise up in the same way, and if something simple like dishes weren’t washed or laundry wasn’t done, then literally our lives became a living hell.

I remember on numerous occasions hearing the arguments begin, and I know as I may be talking to you, you may be having difficulty because you may hear or know that this is going on in your own families, and I pray that you will be able to cope and process well.

But as the arguments begin to rise, more and more, and as we begin to get older, more and more responsibility became a part of us, we became abused. The oldest of us, my older brother, myself and my sister who is one year younger than me, the three of us really experienced the brunt of the abuse. The two youngest ones did to some degree, but not at the levels and not at the durations that we did.

I remember vividly, one time not doing the dishes, and I remember having a dish thrown at me, and I remember trying to get out of the room and I remember getting thrown up against the wall. I remember being… having the marks which I still carry on my body today, of the abuses that had come over my time as a preteen and also even as a teen.

It wasn’t there all the time; there were times that were good times, and there were always bad times as usual.

We began to read into the demeanor of the person who would come to the door, and be able to pick out, “Okay, is this a safe moment or is this a dangerous time? Is this one where we are going to have to huddle?” because a lot of times during abuses, my siblings and I would huddle in the corner. We would just hang on to each other as my mom would take the brunt, as she would try to stand between us and my father.

Many times, after the abuse would happen, my mother would come to us, and she would be bruised, she would be crying, she would be shaking, and she would be trying to hold on to us as we did as a family.

And so, because of that, I was very close to my mom, for several reasons really, because I felt loved when I was held my her, but also she was the person that, very much like my grandmothers, would take us to church, so that she knew that if anything was going to change anything, if there was change going to come to our family, it was going to be because of God. It was going to be because of a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ.

Well, over the course of the years, as we began to wander and as we began to get older as siblings, we began to question our mom and ask her why is she staying here in this environment, why she was allowing us to be a part of this, and why is it sometimes you wonder, you went to church, you had the appearance that everything is just fine, when just hours before physical abuse was happening, not only to you but also to your mother.

And so we kind of spent this cyclic kind of a routine where it just kind of happened like that for many, many years.

We spent a lot of time hunting. We spent a lot of time out in the outdoors. A lot of times I reflect today and I ask myself, “Why did that happen? Why did we spend our time outdoors, especially my older brother and I?” and I really feel that the reason why we spent the most of our time outdoors is because we felt safe. It was because we knew we weren’t going to get hit, we weren’t going to hear words that were going to be very hurtful.

And so, we would spend our days from morning to evening, away, out in what God has created, looking at the flowers and leaves, looking at the water that would flow there in Taos.

(To be continued)