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Velma's Work
Valiantly Velma - Page 17

Special Needs of Indian Children - I know who you are.

“I know who you are.” The superintendent of schools was a big man and now he leaned back in his chair. His attitude made it plain he wasn’t having anything to do with Oklahoma for Indians Opportunity or with Velma who was representing them.

“You may as well turn around and go out the same way you came in here.

This is my school and I don’t need any help in running it.”

“I know it is your school, Sir. I’m here as a visitor. Velma as always was cautious. “I didn’t just come to intrude on your schedule. I did ask for an appointment because my organization wishes to work through the schools to help our Indian students. I was sent here and it is part of my work assignment. If you do not wish to talk with me, I have no other recourse than to report this to your supervisors in Oklahoma City.” She did not wish to have a confrontation and turned to leave just as he had asked her to do.

She walked out of the double doors of the fine old brick building which was where the administration office stood at the time. It was centrally located in town and was beside brick streets that had been built by government programs during the depression under the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration, when he was president. All about the town were memories of the work these men came to do while the country was in the throes of depression. Heavy rock bridges in the parks, a great stone shelter house in another park around Lake Ponca, dams with stone decoration across the roads where they were, and much more. Federal government’s contributing to the economy and welfare of the town wasn’t exactly an unknown happening although it seemed at the moment all that had been totally forgotten.

The letter that went to the office in Oklahoma City was written by the people in the O.I.O. office at Norman. When the tall, strong man who was representing Velma’s office came to visit with the superintendent, there was a different reception given to him. This man was educated and graduated out of Howard University.

Velma smiled as she told about the visit. “He knew all the right words. The superintendent had to respect him.”

After that the programs to help Indian children were put into place and with no hitches. The Johnson-O’Malley plan was to provide supplementary financial assistance to meet the unique and special needs of Indian children. It was not to replace federal, state or local funds. There were broad and general regulations that allowed the programs to be developed to meet local needs and differences. Parent participation was encouraged.

Velma never allowed her own children to use any of the aid. Lee, her husband, was raised by a strong Republican woman and he would not allow the acceptance of assistance of any kind. His children had not been raised on the reservation and he did not feel they faced the same trials that Native children endured so were not entitled to the provisions offered for Native American children.

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