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Paddle Your Own Canoe
Chapter 7

There was such a smooth transition between the speakers it was fascinating to watch. It was as if they had been on this panel for all their lives. Dee was impressed with the very pleasant way these elder people went about speaking to the youthful group in front of them.  For the most part there were only a few,  who yawned,  squirmed in their chairs, or whispered to each other. For the most part they were very attentive and Dee felt this was admirable.

It was obvious the children were of all tribes, mixed as they were. The facial characteristics and their physical bodies were very different. Having experienced the years at Chilocco Dee could almost know the tribes of the children, but not completely,  since there had been such an intermarriage which gave these individuals traits from all tribes.

The third speaker introduced herself.  “Good morning. I was born in 1929,”

She was honest and not afraid to admit her age.  Why should she be? She was youthful in appearance. Her hair was gray, but this was the only thing to speak of her age.  Otherwise,  she stood tall and with dignity.  She wasn't over weight.  Her attractive knit sweater  she wore revealed a very well put together lady.

“It's good to be here.”  “I consider it a privilege to hear these elders speak.”  “I agree we all did go through some rough times.”  “My grandchildren will say, 'Grandmother, were you living during those dust storms in Oklahoma?”

“Yes,  I tell them.  We did go through some rough times then. Plus the fact that we had no running water. We had to pump or water. The only good thing about that was it seemed like the longer we pumped the colder the water became.  It sure tasted good.  Otherwise, if we wanted cold water we had to buy a block of ice in town and bring it home.”

“In the mornings we pumped the water and put it into tubs which sat outside. By the end of the day the sun made the water warm enough for our bath.”

“We walked every day to school.  It was a school house like the one you see on Little House on the Prairie. There were two rooms.  The little room was for the children in grades one through four. The big room was for children five through eight grades.   There was an outside bathroom. I walked to that school house for eight years and then  graduated.”

“When my folks decided to move to town that was hard too. We were rather like the Beverly Hillbillies, not knowing how to adjust to town life.”

“East   was where I went for the seventh, eighth, and ninth grades. I was getting ready to go to Po High (Ponca City High School) by taking summer school. A neighbor worked at Conoco and they gave me a ride in their car for that far. The rest of the way I jogged from Conoco to Po High”  (minimum of two and one half miles).

"At the end of this summer my mother called me to her.  “You must go to Chilocco.  I have you enrolled. The paper work is done.”

“Oh, I can tell you I didn't want to go.  I was so afraid.   But, it was what my mother said I must do.  She said I could not jog every day to school through the cold, rain and bad weather.  So, Chilocco sent a bus and I went.”

“There were six dormitories at the time, three for boys and three for girls. I had to stay at home three. It was big and old. It was so scarey. But, the longer I stayed the more I liked it.   Mother told me, 'these are the best years of your life.”

“I graduated in 1948.  Today I am a member of the National Alumni Society for Chilocco.  I enjoy so much going to the meetings.”

“Those days at Chilocco were a time when they were really strict with us.  We were taught to respect our elders.”

“As to the relationship of our people, our Native people, we too were taught respect. Don't call them by their names. They are your relatives, know their relationship to you and call them by that.”

“Always remember who you are and where you came from.”

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