Title: Mildred Blue
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Title: Mildred Blue
Series Title: Mildred Blue
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Bibliographic ID: UF00007379
Volume ID: VID00001
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Interviewee: Mildred Blue

Interviewer: Emma Echols

September 4, 1992

E: This is Emma Echols, from Charlotte, North Carolina, 5150 Sharon Road. I am
visiting on the Catawba Indian Reservation today. [Today is September 4, 1992, and]
this is a very special day. I am in the home of the former Doris Blue, and her
daughter Mildred Blue is here. In fact, she is making an Indian head over there, all
molded by hand, a beautiful thing. I have so many memories of Doris Blue. She
was an outstanding person. She married, of course, as you remember, Chief Blue's
son. Mildred, what was his name?

B: Andrew.

E: Andrew. I never did know Andrew, but I knew Mildred's mother Doris very, very
well. She was not only an outstanding pottery maker, but she was respected and
loved all over the reservation and in many places otherwise, too. Well, I am going
to move over here to where I can talk to Mildred. Mildred, you have always lived
on the reservation, haven't you?

B: Yes, ma'am.

E: Where did you go to school?

B: Right here on the reservation, through the seventh grade.

E: Who were your teachers?

B: Willard Hayes and Jim Davies.

E: Did you have any white teachers after that?

B: They were white.

E: Oh, yes, I know they were.

B: No, ma'am, I did not.

E: And you went through what grade?

B: Seventh, down here.

E: And then where did you go after that?

B: Rock Hill High.

E: Did they treat you nice[ly] at Rock Hill High?

B: Some of them did.


E: [laughter]

B: Some did not.

E: Yes, I know. That is hard, isn't it. Then after you finished your schooling, what did
you begin to do?

B: I worked in a discount store. Well, I worked in the bleachery during the war. Then
for a while I stayed home and helped my mother with the pottery, and then in 1963
I went to work at the Family Dollar Store on Cherry Road. I stayed there seventeen
years, until I retired from there.

E: Seventeen years at the Family Dollar on Cherry Road. That is a long time. Have
you saved all your mother's tools that she used for making pottery--the rubbing
stones and things of that kind?

B: Yes, ma'am.

E: And the little knife she used?

B: Some of them are the ones that she used. Some of them I have collected myself.
I have some of hers.

E: And you make the same kind of things that she used to make?

B: Yes, ma'am.

E: Do you make the one with the snake wrapped around it?

B: I have made some small ones. I have not made the large [size].

E: I think I have one of your mother's like that. I have several of her little ducks. I
was fascinated with all that. At one time I bought from her an arrowhead, like the
one you are making now, except it had an Indian on it, I believe. You make that
kind, too, don't you?

B: No, ma'am, not with the Indian on it.

E: Well, anyhow, I have one that your mother made. I am so glad that you have your
own home here. Your mother used to have a store [here]. You do not have a store
any longer here?

B: No, ma'am. That was my little store, and when I went to work at the Family Dollar
store I closed it out. It was too much for her to handle.

E: Did you drive? How did you get into town?


B: Yes, ma'am, I drive.

E: So you go into Rock Hill to do your shopping?

B: Yes, ma'am.

E: What do you think about the settlement with the Indians, the grant you are going
to get? Do you think it is going to affect you or not?

B: Well, it will, but not as much as the young people, because I am up to the age that
I do not have much longer. I will be here, so ...

E: How old are you, Mildred?

B: Seventy.

E: Well, I am a few years older than that, you know.

B: Yes, ma'am.

E: [laughter]

B: But it will help; I know it is going to help the younger people.

E: For the education and for the training.

B: Yes, ma'am.

E: It is very important. Do you still fire your pottery out in the back yard, like your
mother used to do?

B: Yes, ma'am.

E: Same way?

B: Same way.

E: And sometimes you don't know how it is going to turn out. You might have a
broken piece, won't you.

B: Sometimes. You don't know. When they come out you don't know if they are all
going to be in one piece or if they are all going to be in several pieces. Sometimes
you can fire twelve and you will get twelve good ones, and other times you will put
twelve in there and you will have twelve broken ones. So you just do not know.


E: Oh, no. That is very disappointing, isn't it. You don't have any trouble selling your
pottery, do you?

B: No, ma'am.

E: Do they call on you to come into schools and demonstrate your pottery sometimes?

B: Well, I have been asked to go, but at the time that I was supposed to go I fell and
broke my ankle, so I couldn't go. But we go to museums and places like that.

E: Now, tell me who your mother and who your father were.

B: Doris Wheelock and Andrew Blue.

E: And your grandmother was?

B: Rose [Wheelock].

E: She is the one who taught at the school here.

B: Yes, ma'am.

E: And your grandfather was an Indian from another part of the country.

B: Yes, ma'am. Wisconsin.

E: From Wisconsin. Whereabouts?

B: Oneida.

E: Oneida. [I understand that] he also used to be a medicine man, that he would come
and demonstrate medicine. Is that true?

B: Yes, ma'am. And he was also a great football player.

E: Yes. I have corresponded with the school where he went, trying to get some of his
records, and I have a picture of your father demonstrating some of his herbs and
medicines when he sold them.

B: Yes, ma'am.

E: Now, how many brothers and sisters do you have?

B: I had two brothers and one sister, but one brother has passed away.

E: You go to church here on the reservation. Do you remember the old church?


B: Yes, ma'am. I remember the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, better
known as Mormon.

E: Yes. You and your mother both have always had a close contact with the white
people of this community as well as the Indians.

B: Yes, ma'am.

E: Your mother as a little girl wanted to go to school, but she was not allowed to do
that. Is that right?

B: That is right.

E: Your father used to bring your mother out here, and she would stay on the
reservation during the week. Who would she stay with?

B: With her aunt.

E: Who was her aunt?

B: Betsy. Betsy Harris.

E: I didn't know that. At that time there was a teacher who taught for a short time,
Miss Macey Stevenson, who drove out here from Leslie. Your mother used to ride
back with her to Leslie in her little buggy, and Miss Macey Stevenson would put her
on the train for Rock Hill. Did you know that?

B: No, ma'am.

E: I think I am correct.

B: She may have told me about it, and I have just forgotten.

E: Miss Macey was deaf, but she loved music, and she taught a number of them down
here to play the piano or the organ. Did you ever hear anyone tell about that?

B: No, ma'am.

E: Well, there has been a wonderful relationship between the whites and the Indians,
most of the time, hasn't there been?

B: For a good portion of the time there has been.

E: Most of the time. [laughter] You are too young to remember 1918, when the flu
epidemic killed so many.

B: I was not born until 1922.

E: No, you were not born then. The history says that the white people came out here
with soup kitchens to help. Who of Sam Blue's family do you remember? Of
course, your father was his son. What other ones of the Blue family do you

B: I remember my uncles, Guy Blue and Nelson Blue.

E: Oh, tell me about Nelson. He married the little girl across the river, Leola.

B: Leola. I believe she was a Watts, but I am not sure.

E: Did you know Leola?

B: Yes, ma'am.

E: They were very happy together, weren't they?

B: Yes, ma'am.

E: He was a fine-looking person. The only picture I have of her is after they were
married. The story is that her father made her a little boat, and she paddled across
the river to go to school, which is where she met Nelson. Nelson would be your

B: My uncle.

E: Do you remember Nelson?

B: Yes, ma'am. He just died probably about ten or twelve years ago.

E: Has the reservation changed very much as far as the trees and the roads and the

B: Yes, ma'am. There are a lot more mobile homes here now, and the trees have
grown up. Back when we were growing up, most people farmed, and when they
would be cleaning up during the spring to get their fields ready, sometimes the fire
would get out of hand and burn the trees, and they did not grow up very big. But
now we have a lot of big trees; there are a lot of big trees here now.

E: They used to go hunting down here for deer, rabbits, squirrels, and what else?

B: I think turkeys, ducks--most any kind of game that you could hunt, they did.


E: Now, how old were you when your father died?

B: About forty. He died in 1960, so I must have been about thirty-eight, I guess,
something like that.

E: You very well remember him. What did he do? Did he work in Rock Hill?

B: He worked at the Rock Hill Printing and Finishing Company. It was built in 1928,
and he went to work there in 1930 and worked there until 1958 or 1959. His health
was bad.

E: You are so nicely situated here in your lovely home, but all up and down the
reservation I see trailers, trailers, trailers--and some of them not in very good repair--
and no little gardens, and not many flowers around them. You are different here.
On this tract of land can you use as much of the land as you want to?

B: We have a lot. I think it is 300 feet square, and we can use as much of it as we
want to.

E: And it is all you really need.

B: You cannot come within [a certain distance from one house to the next]. There has
to be 300 feet between the two houses, unless it is a member of your family. That
is my brother that lives there.

E: Oh, it is?

B: It does not make any difference. As long as I agree that he can live that close to
me it is all right. But if it was not a member of my family, they could not live there.

E: Now, what does your brother do?

B: He works at Westinghouse.

E: In Charlottesville?

B: Yes.

E: That is a good job. You Indians amaze me. You are electrically inclined and are
good mechanics. There were several people who work at the tire companies and
things of that kind. That is really interesting. Now, did Doris Blue have a daughter
across the road?

B: Yes, ma'am.

E: What is her name?


B: Betty Garcia.

E: Yes. And her husband is a painter.

B: Yes, ma'am. He is retired.

E: Oh, is he retired?

B: Yes, ma'am.

E: I want to come to see her some time, too. Well, what do you see for the future of
your people? You are proud to be an Indian, and more and more people are proud
of you, aren't they.

B: Yes, ma'am, I think so.

E: And you go back and remember a lot of the history, don't you.

B: Yes, ma'am.

E: When you get through scraping that piece, I want you to show me one or two of the
pieces that you have made, or one that Doris has made. Well, I have been here so
many, many times to visit Doris and have seen you, too. It was Doris that I was
talking to and watching do it, and now I am watching you. No one taught you how
to do that. You watched [to] see how the pottery was made.

B: Yes, ma'am.

E: Now, do you still get your clay across the road?

B: We did. We do not anymore.

E: Where do you get yours now?

B: I do not know where I will get it when I use this up. [laughter] But he has refused
to let us go back and get anymore.

E: Will Fred Sanders be the assistant to Chief Blue now?

B: Yes, ma'am.

E: Are you pleased with that [and with] the officers in the tribe?

B: Yes, ma'am.


E: So you look forward to a good future with them.

B: I hope so.

E: I hope so, too.


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