Interviewer: Emma Echols
Interviewee: Garfield Harris
Date: August 28, 1993
E:This is Emma Echols, 5150 Sharon Road, Charlotte, North
Carolina. I am working on the oral history of the Catawba
Indians. I am visiting in the home of Mr. Garfield Harris.
I have a picture of his mother (taken) many years ago, she
was one of the early girls that went north to school. I am
told that I am at the right place, that Mr. Harris knows
more history than most anybody else. Now will you tell me
your name and address?
H:This is Reservation Road. 3029.
E:Your name (is)?
H:Garfield C. Harris.
E:Who were your father and mother?
H:Artemis Harris was my mother, and Theodore Harris was my daddy.
E:Who was your father?
E:Yes. and Artemis your mother was one of the girls, four girls,
that went from the reservation to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to
H:That is right.
E:Not long ago, on October eighteenth, the Charlotte Observer,
the York (inaudible) ran a picture of your mother and the
other girls that went to school. Tell me about what you
remember as a young boy growing up on the reservation.
H:I do not remember exactly what (inaudible). I remember the
first--what I remember about it was when I went to school;
we had an Indian school down there and, I recon (that) I was
six years old, I do not know.
E:Now who was your teacher?
H:Blair. He was an elder from out west, a Mormon elder. That
was our teacher. I remember going to school early one
morning, it was cold and it was really sunny. We would
walk along the road (inaudible) .... aside the riverbank
where we were walking, and I our heat was a big old pot-
bellied stove in the middle of a one room Indian School.
When they gave us training, in the first grade, or
kingergarten, we had cloth books. You probably remember
(those) old cloth primers.
H:Did you ever use any of them?
H:They were good. The only education that I got was down there
at the reservation.
E:Did you use a slate to write on? Or did you have pencils and
H:I do not exactly remember that; I remember the slate, but I do
not remember whether we had a slate or not.
E:Was it just the one teacher, when you were in school?
E:And about how many students, ten or twelve?
H:I believe that there were more than that. Because he used one
of (older children to help with the kindergarten).
E:Were you in the same class with Nelson Blue?
H:No. Nelson Blue was out of school when I went to school there.
See, Nelson was older than my mama.
H:See, they were already married and raising children. Doris
Blue was the first primary teacher that I remember. She and
Lula Beck helped with the little small groups.
E:Do you mean Doris Blue or do you mean her mother?
H:Doris Blue. They were about--I imagine they were about
eighteen or nineteen years old, or maybe younger.
E:Who else do you remember at your class at school?
H:I remember Billy Canty, that was my first cousin. See, we
lived over there with my aunt and uncle, and I remember Guy
Blue. I remember Elsie Blue, and Samuel Beck and Helen
Beck, but Helen Beck started a little later, because she is
a little younger than I am. Those are the ones that I
remember. There ought to be Evelyn Brown, there were
several of them; Kirk Saunders.
E:Did you eat lunches at school?
H:No, no. We never heard of anything like that.
E:You had to run home to eat lunch.
H:We had to go on home to eat lunch.
E:Some of you would not come back, would you?
H:They all would come back.
E:Did they? They wanted to learn.
H:Yes, they wanted to learn.
E:After school did you have games, baseball or?
H:We generally had some games, but I do not remember what they
were, because we did not have volleyball and things like
that until Davis from Charleston started teaching down
E:Mr. Davis was your next teacher?
H:No, Elder Johnson was the next teacher, and he was a Mormon
Elder that taught school down there. I never went much to
Elder Johnson. You see when I was a child coming up, people
farmed. Well you know how it was back in those days, when
you farmed, the kids were taken out of school to work on the
farm. (We) chopped cotton and everything like that. You
just had to grab what little education you could between
times. That is how I got my education was between chopping
cotton and picking cotton.
E:That is right. Now what brothers and sisters did you have?
H:I had a brother David Harris; and sisters Martha Lee Harris,
also Wesley Harris, Wilford Harris, Blanche Harris that
lives out here, Blanche Briason. (I) had some others, but
those kids died in infancy, except (inaudible).
E:How did you meet your wife, was she in school with you?
H:Yes, she went to the same school I did. But my Indian wife,
you see I was married before I married Olga. I met Olga at
church. Down here on the reservation in 1928. Well, you
know, Indians and whites could not marry then, so we could
not--we wanted to get married but we could not get married
because Indians and whites did not marry. See, I met her
when we were fourteen years old, and we corresponded
together until sometime in the thirties, and then I never
did hear from her any more, she married Glader over there
and I married down here at home. My wife and I separated.
I stayed separated for twenty-six years, (inaudible). So
when I went away to the army and came back, I found out
that she had asked about me. I went over there to see her,
and we finally got married.
E:Well, fine. (laughter)
H:--built a home.
E:Did you have any children?
H:I have but none of my own left. (inaudible)
E:But you made that wife happy, I remember you would take her on
a ride, every afternoon.
H:Oh, yes. We rode like that until she kept going down. She had
Parkinsons disease, and (that) cancer too, and she kept
E:Yes. So you live all alone.
E:Well, you go to church down here on the reservation.
E:What do you think of the future of your people, how is that new
deal going to help you?
H:Well, it is not going to help me as far as helping is
concerned. But it may help some of the younger ones to get
a better education. Maybe the (inaudible) Federal and
reservation might mean something to them.
E:You have grown up in the era of some wonderful people. What do
you remember about Chief Sam Blue?
H:He was my great uncle. Yes he was a good fellow. We looked to
him for a lot of help on the reservation and in the church.
E:Your mother must have been a beautiful person. From the
pictures I have seen, when she came home did she teach you
children at home some?
H:She did, yes. She had a big old story bible, I do not know
where it came from, whether it was hers. Maybe they gave it
to her when she was in Pennsylvania when she was staying
with people there. She would read that to us.
E:Read what to you?
H:The bible stories.
H:She would read us so many stories, I remember a lot of them.
We lived on the Sturches'place up there for a while and we
were farming for them some. The Sturches would bring bible
stories in those little leaflets. Mama would read them to
E:What do you remember doing to celebrate Christmas down on the
Reservation? Or in your home?
H:Well, we celebrated just like anyone else, we enjoyed it. We
would visit each other down there and have a Christmas
E:What was your special food, your mother was a good cook I bet.
H:Well, we prepared what we were able to get. You know, back
then, the only work that you could get in the winter was
cutting wood on the farm. Saw wood, and things like that.
Well, she would have chicken, a lot of pies and cakes and
things like that. If you were born in a poor family, you
did not have plenty (inaudible) the way kids have today.
They have so much at the table that they throw it away. But
we had fruit and things like that just put out at
Christmas. a couple toys and that was it.
E:Did you boys go out in the forest and find nuts and berries?
H:Oh, yes, yes.
E:What kind of things would come from the forest?
H:You would have those hickory nuts. Big, old hickory nuts. We
would put them away in the bag and use them. In the spring
we would gather blackberries, and mama would can
blackberries. We had a lot of blackberry pie. I would love
to have a taste of blackberry pie.
E:Did you have cultivated fruits like peaches and apples?
H:Grandpa had an orchard up down the hill in the back, where the
old church used to be. He would give mama fruit like that
E:Have the white people in this community been good to you?
E:You have some good friends around here I am sure.
H:Yes. I cannot grumble.