Title: Interview with Evelyn McGhee Davidson (September 12, 1972)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007505/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Evelyn McGhee Davidson (September 12, 1972)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: September 12, 1972
Spatial Coverage: Creek County (Fla.) -- History.
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00007505
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Creek County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: CRK 30

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Full Text


This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.

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instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
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Evelyn McGhee Davidson
A. Paredes

P: Start out by saying when you were born, where you were born, who your

parents were and all that stuff.

P: When were you born?

D: I was born October 15, 1940, in Atmore, Alabama Escambia County.

P: In a hospital?

D: No, I was born at home. My mother and dad were and Alberta McGhee.

P: Were you born in Atmore?

D: No, I was born in the Zceh community specifically.

P: What kind of house were you living in when you were born you grew up in,

your first ammax house?

D: The'first house was just a two-room house. It had a kitchen and the rest

of our living quarters was in the other room.

P: What was the house built out of?

D: Lumber, just a lumber house. I think I was born in my grandmother's Ida

McGhee's old house and it was built out of logs.

P: Did you all have a wood stove still when you were growing up?

D: We did for a while and then we got a kerosene stove.

P: How did you heat your house?

D: By a fireplace.

P: W I want to ask you a very general question How did you learn that you were


D: I guess I just really never thought about being an ixdnak Indian until we

heard this controversy about going to school. I guess I just remember

mostly about when Uncle Calvin said that the kids couldn't go to school

and that was just afew years before I entered high school.

Page Two

P: You were in school already .

D. Yeah, we were going to the part of the Episcopal Church up there now, and

I went to school there for the first three years and then in 1950 when

they built this other school, I went to the Perh Consolidated School, I

think they called it.

P: And that was the first time you could remember being aware that you were


D: Um, yeah. I just never did hear anybody say anything about being


P: When you before you went to school or in the early grades of school,

did you ever play with kids who weren't from the community you grew up


D: Just thepeople that was right in the community I guess that's why they

never talked about being Indian or a difference or anything, because

we played just with the kids who were right from that community.

P: Did you play with kids from -PWsh?

B: Oh, yeah. 'Cause that's where all my relatives are out there.
1-1 e,,0 P: How about A ?

D: No, we never did go up that xi far.

P: Did you ever play with any colored kids who lived up the street there?

D: No.

P: Were there any living across the street?

D: There was some, because I remember when they used to come across the creek

and come over there to get potatoes and fruit, and come over there to sell

different things.

P: How nn about kids did they ever come over there?

D: No, I only saw a grownup. A colored woman did help deliver me, Rachel (trf .C ..
,...and a Dr. Peavy that was from Atmore.
P: I.- a c&ef Cr-V\re! )

Page Three

P: Why did you have oth a midwife and a doctor?

D/ I think No, she had complications with my other sister who was born,

but not with me. I guess she did have a difficult delivery with me, because

I was u 2.

P: Where did you go to church?

D: I always went to the Holiness Church.

P: Which one?

D: The New Home I don't think it was called the New Home Church when they
Vwy-f ft.I-L
built the church over there that we have now. It was the New Home Church.

P: Was the old wooden church still there when you xxax went there?
T- o 0(4 .C. LrsA *
D: Yes, sir. I remember going to church thereA Then they built I think when

they built the brick church, the old church that was by the cemetery now,

I think when they changed the name to New Home is when they built it.

Then they have since built another church.

P: Did you ever go to church 6t1b" -ArLOr- Mee- ,r

D: Oh, yes. Lots of times.

P: Which one did you go to?

D: I went to the one between Hg Purt and Prt-h. We used to ride a wagon out


P: Yeah, tell me about that. When did your daddy get his first car?

D: Oh, gosh. I was about 8 years old. It was about a 1941-42 Plymouth or

something like that.

P: As an 8 year old child, what did you think of your daddy having a car?

D: Well, I was ashamed of the car, I+hought it was k about the funniest-

looking thing I had ever seen.

P: Even though your family never had one before?


Page Four

D: That's right. And I can remember m going to town and I didn't think

that they allowed you to park on the main street, 'cause we always went

to a parking lot that was on* the far 41MR end of town and we always

parked back there they didn't have parking meters or anything, but I

didn't think they'd let any old clunky cars like that par on ...

P: Which part of town?

D: It would be he south part of town.

P: Around Peanut Street at all?
L a
D: No, across the railroad tracks and tr that way.

P: Do you remember ever going to town in a wagon?

D: No.

P: How did you all get to town before you had a car?

D: We never did go to town.

P: How did your parents go to town before they get a car?

D: Well, my uncle had a car and a truck and he used to come by and tell

everybody he'd be going to town at ten o'clock and if they wanted to

go to town, they'd all ride with him..

P: Which uncle was that?

D: Uncle A/ C and Aunt Lilly is my dad's sister. And they used to come

to town and pick up their groceries and we used to whenve'd get our

shoes or something, we'd put our xhs9 foot on a piece of paper and

mother would drgw our footprint and buy our shoes like that.

KXX It was a big treat then, 'cuase they'd bring us back a popsicle or a

chocolate-covered popsicle.

P: Do you remember any people from out of the community coming to town in


D: No.

Page Five

P: How many people, when your dad got his first car, in the community still

didn't have cars?

D: I think he was one of t e very few. I think Uncle Calvin had a car and

Uncle ,Cand that's about the only ones who did have cars.

P: What about tractors?

D: No, they did all their farming by mule.

P: Can you remember 6he first person who had a tractor out there?

D: Uncle Calvin.

P: He did?

D: Yeah. I guess he had about the biggest tract of land around there. But

there used to be an old rolling store that used to come by through there

and that's how they bought their groceries, too. This rolling store would

come by and we used to have a little wagon that we used to go over there by

the road and momma would write out a list of what she wanted and we used

to go there and roll them back home.

P: Where was the closest stop on the way

D: Over by the New Home Church now.

P: I heard the other day that that road down by your parents house is new.

Is that right ?

D: When they put the highway in, they changed it. The highway the paved

highway has only been in about the last five years.

P: And they didn't have the road.(M A by your folks' place until

that time?

D: Yeah. Yeah it has always been there. That road has always been there.

P: What was the back road then?

D: CXmNW9.4WM--*%-aYou know where Kinsey lived? The back road used to go down

by Kinsey's and around the gravel pit, back that way, and around by the


Page Six

P: But the other road was always there?

D: Yeah, that's always been there.

P: How did you get to school?

D: Well, you had to walk from our house over to the road and then the

weh schoolbus picked us up from there that was in grade school-

when we started in gkis high school, we still had to walk over C

the road and then we would ride there downto the store and then we

would be transferred to another bus that would take us on into town.

P: Who drove the bus that took you to the store?

D: Uncle Dan McGhee.

P: Did you ever go to school in McCullough at all?

D: No.

P: So you went directly from the-Prtr school to Atmore?

B: Were there kids that went to McCullouhHlduring your time?

D: No, I don't think so. I think they all went tcAtmore.There's no

school in McCulloigh .,

P: There used to be.

D: Oh, I didn't know that.

P: Well tell me about your schoolexperiences.

D: Well, when I was in the llth grade, they offered the-j-? that was

the first year that diversified occupation was offered in the school

and Carl Reillyl-0-ee taught this. And that year, I took nursing,,

as part c that and I worked at the hospital for a year there, and

the second year I took cosmetology and when I was in the llth grade

we had our first district meeting which included about 13 or 14 counties

and we met in Jackson, Alabama, and I was chosen to represent our

school in the beauty contest there and I was in 1st place there, won

first place there, and then we went on to the state and I wonn,no I didn't

Page Skven

win, I came in fifth place in the state finals. I was in the homecoming

queen's court I was the first Indian in that 4

P: What waO that you were saying the other night about some teacher

making some comment?

D: Oh, she was our senior homeroom teacher Well, we always make an

annual as most of the schools do, and in the annual they have all

kinds of pictures in there, 8 x 10's in there of the girls and boys

who hav) won outstanding things throughout the year, and there was

not any recognition given to me except for one little snapshot

on one little page, and when I went to the state finals, she didn't

say antyhing to me about good luck, hope you winlhe only comment

she had to make was that she didn't want me to disgrace the school.

P: How did you feel about it at the time?

D: I was upset. I guess I felt hurt because I had a lot of pride and

having gone that far, I wanted to win.

P: Being very honest, now at that time, do you think her comment had

anything to do bewa you were Indian?

D: Oh, yes. I just always felt that she just didn't really care very

much about Indians. It wasn't just me but I think there was
8f( or(4 R o1C.A
five girls, senior Indian girls that year and one boyA and I think

they xiwKx all sensed this.

P: How did they sense this?

D: I don't know -

P: What would the teachers do that they could sense this?

D: Well, one time, let me say this I had a teacher and the desks they

were old and they were all cut up and it was in an English class and

we were taking atest, and she had me open, @ she didn't have me open,

Page Eight

I opened a book to write the answers down, and I just flipped it open

and she accused me d cheating, and moved me from, I waS sitting on the

back seat, and moved me all the way to the front. She said it in front

of the whole class, and you can imagine how big I felt.

P: You said earlier that you weren't being aware you were Indian until

they started the Indian school case, but by the time you were in llth

grade you were very much aware of that.

D: Oh, yet%.

P: Well, what happened in the intervening years to make you feel that way?

(The Tape cut off at this point)

P: Until you went to Atmore High School, how often did you have any

opportunity to be around all white people?

Sajy as you got older, did your parents every take you to a town?

D: Yeah, but we still didn't have anything to do. You know what we

did? We went to the movies.

P: When you would go to town, would you notice that there were people

who looked different than you?

D: No, but I tell you one thing and this is bad on my part a My grand=

mother wanted me to hug her neck no matter where she was at We

would go to twn on Saturday and would run into her I was going to

high school then and didn't want to be Indian, and see if somebody

would see me if I hugged her neck See, I was embarrassed to hug

her neck.

P: Was she dark?

D: Very dark. Not as dark as Uncle Ivey, but she was dark.

P: Why i didn't you want to be Indian?

D: Just easier to say you weren't Indian.

CRK Tape 30A
RaR Page Nine

P: Yet you said you were darker than most of the Indians. Did you feel

that although you were darker, you could avoid being Indian?

D: You know what I did, I didn't spell my name McGhee, I spelled it McGee -

4thought that would make a difference, but it didn't. They still kngw


P: What was going on in your teenage mind that made you not want to be


D: Just wanted to be accepted. Just wanted to be one of them.

P: As one ofthem or just accepted by them.

D: Just accepted by them. jo+. 6# 7Cu ""'C J

P: Were you ever in student politics.

D: No.

P: How many Indian kids have gone to Atmore high school before you came.

D: Not very many. I can't remember her name Dottie Cobler It was

a Martin boy That's the other two that comes to mind right now.

P: Can you think back and describe your feelings the first day that you

went to Atmore high school?

D: I was scared.

Frightened to death I thought it was just about the bigtest place -

Well, it was the biggest place that I'd ever been outside the hospital.

and I can remember the first time I went to the hospital.

P: What was the occasion for that?

D: I went up there to see Houston's grandmother and I though that was

the biggest place dBR At that time, that was the biggest place I

had ever been in. We graduated from the sixth grade, we came down to

the high school to pick up the chairs, and when we walked in that

auditorium, I couldn't get over the size of it.

Page Ten

P: When you started to go to Atmore school, did you notice any differences

between the min body of white kids and the ones you grew up with, in

the way they acted or anything?

D: They just seemed a little bit more adjusted, because we were shy.

We had always been with Indians 'cause that's all that went to school.

P: How did they act towards you all?

D: They jsut left us alone didn't say much to us and we didn't say much

to them.

P: Did they say hello to you?

D: No a., 7^e M O 4 j q

P: Did you notice any difference at all in their grammar or the way

they spoke or anything.?

D: No.

P: How did you do in English class: as far as grammar or anything?

D: It wasn't one of my favortie subject, but,,,

P: How did the teachers treat youpi^ CA14 S S *

D: Pretty good.

P: Well, after you graduated from gki high school what year was that?

D: 1958.

P: Then what did you do?
D: Well, I was only about 17 and Wpe-half when I finished and you had to

be eighteen before you could get a job, so I didn't do anything during

the summer and when I turned 18 in October, I still didn't Well, I

planned to go into nurses's training and I jsut changed my mind and

went to Washington D. C. and I stayed up there with Uncle Calvin and

helped him with some of those research projects up there and when I
C ,e rs4rctka ot
came back I went to A in Pensacola and put my application in down

there and I was accepted down there, so I went to work down there.

Page 11

I worked for a year and then I go t married.

I was in the Chem Strand Beauty Contest I represented our area and

I came in 5th place in that. I was so shy We had to talk to the

judges and I didn't say anything to him.

P: Back when you were in gki high school what would the teenagers fom

the community do for fun and recreation? o. A4 It4 cAa@I 4.a

D: I guess we did We Wed to go to dances up at the schoolueM N o) UP

Episcopal hurch They let us use that as sort of a community get-

together. We used to go up there and we had dances up there and

when I got to be older to go out on dates, we used to go to town

and used to go to the ,W1ll, we were pretty well accepted

then. It # WAS GETTING easier then.

P: Did you cte many guys from outside the community?

D: No.

P: All your dates were with other Indians?

D: No.

D: I didn't date high school boys I just didn't care for them.

P: Service 499?

D: I just didn't go out until just before I finished high school.

P: How did youneet them?
in Pensacola
D: Well, I met them-A n had an uncle who lived down there and I met

some down there. They used to come up to Atmore quite a bit.

P: Was that the American Legion dances, or what?

D: That was an older age group I was .

P: When you're in gke high school how much work did you have to do, I mean

for money? How much did you work in the summertime.

D: Oh, I picked cotton and stuff to buy my books, and helped my mother ank

dad buy my school clothes.

Page 12

P: Would there be a fairly large group of high school-age kids out picking


D: Oh, yeah. Every one of us.

P: Were you Ll hauled around as a group.

D: Uncle Mace used to We used to go down to Robertsville, Foley, on
PIA Mf-nC-tf1KC
the other side of A and pick up Irish potatoes.

P: What was the pay?

D: Oh, gosh. I might have made $5 a day if I was lucky. I can remember

about the end of th4e week, I would have about $25 all total.

I worked down there one dayAand picked up that morning and made

$2 and spent it all on hamburgers and coca-colas.

P: Would there x ever be more than your crew out in the field picking,

B: Oh, yeah. There's always a bunch of colored people.

P: Do you remember ever seeing a crew of white poeple picking.

D: Yeah, there'd be some.

P: Besides picking cotton and picking potatoes, did you do any other

kinds of work?

D: No, that's about it.

P: But you did work in diversified Did you get paid while working in


D: Yeah, we got 50 an hour that was as high as the state would allow

them to pay. We'd work about i2x two one-half to three hours a day -

That's all.

P: Do you think going to high school tR3aX influenced your taste in

clothing that first year or so?

D: Very definitely.

P: How so?

D: Well, you wanted to be dressed just the same way that they were.

Page 13

P: Did you make many of your own clothes?

D: No. We always bought them.

P: Okay Going back to your being married then what happened?

D: Well, after we got married, eh was still stationed in Pensacola and

shortly after that, we were transferred to the ... the ship had to

go to Norfolk, Virginia for repairs so that was the first time I'd

ever been away from home, and needless to say, I cried half the

way to Illinois.

P: Why Illinois if you were going to Norflok, Yxi Virginia?

D: Well, David could take the ship and go on up there or ... he wanted

to take me by his home and leave me with his folks and then I was to

meet him later in Norfolk after he found us an apartment.

P: Then after you went to Illinois Nou went onto Norfolk?

D: Uh huh. We stayed out there we were out there for what, David -

six weeks? That's as long as the ship was there about six weeks

and then we came back home to Atmore. He was stationed back in

Pensacola and we stayed with my folks 'cause the Navy wasn't paying

us enough to live on really and ...

P: Were your folks living in their present home?

D: Yeah.

P: Well, when did you all more or less permanently move up to Illinois?

D: Aoubt 1963.

P: Before that you were sort of going back and forth?

D: Back and forth, yeah. He was discharged from the navy in 1961 and his
mother was p sick so we went back there and stayed for a couple of

years I just wasn't used to staying away from home and waSx we were

back and forth We just made up our minds that we couldn't make it

down here so we went back up there dnd stayed until last year and we

came in August of 1971.

Page 14

P: When you were in Illinois, I understand a lot of other people from here

have gone tg1Illinois, Did you have a lot of your relatives and

friends from here in your circle i of friends up there in Illinois?

D: Oh, yeah. There wasn't much else to do down here and they couldn't

make a decent living so they all went up there and they all had good

jobs up there and nice homes.

P: Apart from Dave's friends that he already had in did the two of

you make a lot of new friends Where did you meet them?

D: Work i Worked for U'16k Corporation up there.

P: How long did you work for them?

D: Well, the first time I worked for them, the first time we went up there

in 1962, I started working up there in 1964 and met a lot of friends

who are still friends of ours now.

P: When you were working up there, did you meet other Indians, like reserva-

tion Indians from Florida?

D: Not that many mostly Spanish zp people up there Mexicans.

P: During those years you were up north, did you think about being

Indian at all occasionally?

D: Oh, yeah. I used to wear my braidst,

P: Why did you do that why did you wear braids?

D: Because there wasn't any other Indians in town, <-s wanted them to ,

-1inow I was there.

P: But you were just telling me a few minutes ago that ....

D: Yeah, but that was a different PY n pnow.

P: How was it different?

D: I don't know, It used to be it was so much easier when I wasA in high

school to say that you aren't Indian. If you didn't really look Indian it was

Page 15

D: easier not to be Indian and then after I got up there I was proud of it.

P: What made you proud of it?

D: Like I said, there just wasn't any other Indians in and I was

kind of unique. I was kind of proud of being Indian until we had one

( incident up there and I thought it was kind of important that David

belonged to the Moose and the Elks and different organizations up there.

To me, it would have made life just a little bit easier You belong

to these clubs and things and he went down and joined the Moose after

I kind of prodded him a bit and he was in there for about six months

and then he went down there to pay his yearly dues and when we went

down to pay his yearly dues, they said that they couldn't accept thm

and he asked why and they said because his wife was Indian American

Indian and in their bylaws, you have to be caucasian white.

B: How did they find out you were Indian?

B: I have no idea it was a =S small town, but I don't have any idea-

how they found out. I guess Davied he was kind of proud of me being

Indian and I always bragged about it and I guess that's how they

found out about it.

P: I was going to ask you how long did it take you to discover that being

unique was fun?

D: 25 years.

P: How long after you got up there?

D: Oh, I guess in the last, etbe, the last two years before we came down

about 1969 or 70, I guess.
P: The first year you were up there you didn't play Indian, so to speak?

D: No, I guess when I started everyt~ime something would be in the paper

down here, they would send copies up there to me and I had a lot of pride

in me showing these .ma newspaper clippings off and magazine' covers

Needless to say, I was proud.

Page 16

P: As both a high school student and an American women moving off

to Illinois, how close did you iawExx follow the progress of the

land claims case and what do you think of it?

D: Well, overtime they went everytime Uncle Calvin and wn Ext went

to Washington, I always called home to find out if there had been any

progress made.

P: How didou find out when they went to Washington?

D: My dad Well, I was always writing letters home and they would tell
me when they were going up there and sometimes if I had xsn money,

I would send aitxaxhkx to help on the expenses for them going.

P: How did you feel about thxg n gx x the whole issue of the land claims

in the first place?

D: Well, at first I just didn't have much faith in it like most people.

Through the years, I guess, it just increased with my interest in the


P: When did you come back now?

D: I came back last yMaxx August.

P: Why did you decide to come back?

D: I just wanted to come home. There was no particular reason I just

made up my mind one day and said I waxn want to go home and my husband

doesn't come from a very gaod family and he has no particular ties

except for his father and he was free to come down here if he wanted to *

P: Did you come before your parents came back or did they come back?

D: I came back before my parents came back. My parents stayed up there for

almost eight years, too They came up there I guess I had been up there

about a year before they came up there and then they stayed almost 8 yrs.

P: Was there anybqo you were close to up there a who waS originally tax from

here that came back before you did?


D: Denny McGhee. ,

P: He came back before y-ou did?

D: Yeah. D / i 1, I

D: Well, I guess my mother and dad came up first. One of the first things

I found out I had been up there a good many years before I even found

out that we had relatives in Zion, which is about 50 miles to the

east and come to find out there was just a whole bunch of them over

there I guess they had deliver qa pool table or something in

Harvard one day and they called me just out of the clear blue and it

really surprised me because I didn't even ... they knew I was there

but I didn't know they were there.

P: They had been up there for years before?

D: Ye* they'd been up there quite a bit Because they usually go up

there and then they usually go up to Wisconsin and harvest potatoes

and no, not tobacco just potatoes, I think.
P: Was that the ones that Jack Daltry used to p up4 *

D: Yeah. They used to go up in Anago, Wisconsin.

P: Okay, back to who those people were up in Harvard ...

D: Up in Harvard? First, after I had been up there, then my mother and

dad came and then Denny came up there and then he decided to get

marked, so he married a girl from back home and teLLa li.e enm Gau up

there 5 m lt edBell Morris and then Denny's dad came up there with

his satep-mother and all of their family and they didn't stay very long.

Then Denny's sister came up a good many ... Betty Lou McGhee, Uncle

Mace's daughter Sara Uncle Denny's sister, then Houston came

up there, then Joe Frank, Sharon, Raymond McGhee's wife .Awho else?

Oh, and different ones would stop off Denny's brother, Lavonne he

was there for a while off and on. Olga Lee Daltry .

Rage 18

P: Where did all these people work?

D: They worked Denn y worked for Auto Life which is Chrylser and B4-a Y0)

he went to Auto life and then he worked for Chrysler Houston worked

for A'X 'and then we worked for Auto Life for a while too.

P: mMx Onto mB another subject I noticed you really have gotten

really involved in the Indian work going on Why do you do itJ

D: I am looking for I guess, an identity to be a part of this

community I want them to know that we are a part of this community.

P: And you aren't satisfied with just being an American? A A morefl\ "

D: No.

P: Why note

D: I just We were part of this heritage here and I want to find

a rightful place here. I want to my children to know that

they are Indian.

P: Feeling that way now, do you feel ashamed of your own feelings

back when you were a teenager)or dd you feel like that was the best

thing at the time or do you think about it at all?
) I
D: I think about it I am ashamed.

P: Why?

D: Because I should have stood up for my rights then.

P: Why didn't you stand up for them then?

D: I was ashamed to do so.

P: WEre you scared?

D: I was scared.

P: did you think would happen to you if you did?

D: Well, I guess they told you before about them not wanting us to go

to school, standing out there with guns and not letting us on the

bus and ...

P: Who stood out there with 4uns?

Page 19

D: Jack Daltyy he had twin girls and when it was they were old enough

to go to high school, they refused to let n the bus and they

went back the first day and the second day he had them out there again

and he told them they better stop.

P: Did you watch that or did you just hear about it?

D: No, just hearsay.

P: Do you remember back at the time, was there a lot of talk hoing on in

the community about it?

D: I don't remember much about it. y

P: Did your parents talk about it? Would you say at that time, the

older people in the community show any feelings of anger among them-

selvevs about the situation?

D: Yes.

P: Why hadn't they done something years before?

D: Maybe nobody was inteAted enough to sKa send their kids on to school

and when they finished the 6th grade out there, it was just an
accepted tkhigs that this was as far as this coudl go.

P: What was this thing of working the Indian movement You said it

is for the purpose if of identity Can't you have your identity

without kaxi; g sending your time helping another group Helping

the group as a whole to do things? I mean, working with them without

HI doing your own individual

D; Well, it's for everybody?

P: Why is it for everybody? Why can't fmnxwmx a person do it on his own?

D: You get more accomplished by working with a group.

P: What do you plan to accomplish?

D: We're working for a cultural center W will portray our past and give

us jobs for the future.

Page 20

P: Your identity thing is just something to do with the past then?

What does identity mean for you? Specifically Indian identity. What does
it mean to you?
D: Indian identity....

P: Just tell me the first thing that comes to your mind.

D: Indian identity -

P: Just say what's racing through your mind. Not what you mean by

EX Indian identity Try this one: What do you feel about Indian identity?

What feelings does it bring up in you?

D: Pride.

P: Pride. What kind of pride?

D: I know I look like an Indian and when I go downtown, I wear my hair

in braids, I want everybody down there to know that I'm Indian.

P: I just want to ask you, why do you want people to know that you're

Indian. Wa swered-fhea-qesten---tntqae.Now, up north you

answered that question, because you were unique, 4here in

Atmore you want people to know that you're Indian?

D: I see a lot of people that I went to school with in Atmore and

I guess they all knew I was Indian *AI go down there now, I just

the more that I can look like Indian, e erything that I buy I want

it to look like Indian everything that I wear, I want it to look

like Indian.

P: Ihen you see those people downtown that you went to high school with,

what do you think they are thinking when they se e you?

D: Some of them thinks uts.

P: What would you like for them to think?

D: She looks pretty good yet.

P: That's ad honest womanly answer.

D: I still see a lot of people I went to school with and I'm pretty proud

of the way I look.

Page 21

P: Let me ask you another question.

D: I'm a little bit vain. a different
V-ine but off on _kgt)rack
P: Along the same iektnce,,i-About the time you started to high

school, the black people were enjoying this identity thingAs an

Indian how do you feel about that?

D: They have their right too. Their place in society too. I don't

go along with the pushy ways that they have, because I don't think

well just our particular group, I don't km think we have pushed liked

hat I don't think the American Indian as a whole have pushed luke

they have. Maybe that's why we've fallen down by the wayside.

P: Can yaosymphasize with their desire for better education at all?

:D Yes.

P: In your own mind,-see parallels between their attempt to do things

and the attempt say 20 years ago,to get better education, or do

you feel they're different things altogether?

D: Somewhat, I guess they are about the same a we are.

P: When you were a girl, do you think your way of Life as Indians)was

much closer to the white way of life than the black way of life?

D: It was much closer to the white way of life.

P: And traditioanlly, Indians identity themselves with whites?

D: I think our group has.

P: Why do you fink that is?

D: Well, most people come down)th when they hear about us here, expect

us to go living in tepe6s We don't live in tepees or we lived in

homes just the way they were maybe not as good as theirs, but still

lived in homes.

P: Do you ak 5 years ago and even now, that blacks have as much rna y ,,

S' C subservient to Indians as they were to whites?

I mean did they respect Indians and treat Indians as the boss as much as

they did whites?

Page 22

D: I think I don't remember too much about it, but the way I heard other

people talk bout it, is that they treated us pretty else the way they

did the blacks. I guess

P: Who treated you just like they did the blacks?
they have to
D: The whites in town.Ald now it's more or lessAsort of picked the lesser

of two evils.

P: How did the blacks treat the Indians?

D: There was a few of them that lived near our communities and we just

didn't have much to do with them.
crew worker
E: Say, were you ever with an Indian leader and the field inadwa had some

blacks in his crew?

D: No.

P: There was never such an Indian crew leader?

D: I think Jack Daltry used to have a black crew IM )e used to take

black crews down to pick up at potatoes and stuff. In fact, I think

even now, he goes around and picks up black people to pick up peas

and different things right now.

P: Do you think that Indians got along with blacks better than whites

did? As far as day-to-day working activities.

D: I guess the Indians did, because I guess they expected pretty far

treatment. I know Jack Dalty always used to treat them pretty fair -

they thoughtaxiWx a lot of him And Adam Daltry. They call him

Mr. Jack.

P: Do you ever remember when you wer ea girl, young girl, older people

talking about either whites or blacks being scared of Indians?

D: I think some of the black ones were scared of us.

P: Did you ever know why?

D: Maybe they were afraid they were going to cut them or something, I don't


Page 23

P: Let's go back to ... As you were growing up, in high school as a teenager,

what were your goals in life? Your teenage-type dreams, what did you

imagine yourself?

D: Well first of all, I wanted to be a nurse. And I wanted to marry

someone with a lot of money. And I wanted a nice home all the
comforts of life. I wanted to be somebody and not necessarily work

but ...

P: Why did you decide not to be a nurse again?

D: Liked to have a good time.

P: So the dream of being a nurse sort of slipped by the wayside?.I'o

w / Had youknown anybody closely who had gone to college?

D: I knew A Colbert was a nurse.

P: Did you know anyboyd say a year or two older than you who had gone

off to college?

D: No. Not any of our group.

P: Were you close to anybody who graduated Indian or white who A

finished high school?
some influence,
D: No. If I Had known somebody like that,\I might have gone on.

I could have gone onjet was just my own choice my mother was

working and I could have gone on.

P: Let's talk on a whole new subject Tell me about old customs that

you remember just briefly.

D: Well, the first one that comes to my mind was when a baby was born,

I don't remember how many days afterwards, but I remember they did

have the custom of taking the baby around the house I guess you

picked out the person you wanted to take your child around the house,

and it was supposed to tkae on the characteristics of this person.

Page 24

P: How many of your children were taken around the house?

D: Two both my boys that were born in Alabama were taken around the

house and my baby w boy was born in Illinois and ...

P: Now the two in Alabama were born in a hospital?

D: Yes.

P: How did that work, being bonn in a hospital and yet being carried

around the house?

D: I j u back home -

P: Wnxxthny Was it msm immediatIy after returning to home?

D: Oh, a couple of days I think after I came back home. Maybe on the

5th day.

P: Who did you pick out did you pick out somebody to carry them around

the house.

D: Uh huh. I picked James Roland to take my oldest son around the

house and I think my aunt, My aunt Lilly took around the house.

P: Why did you pick those two people?

D: Well, I picked James Roland because he was a preacher at the time e

I didn't know he was a rowdy as they say teenage jS No, this

is James Roland My dad's oldest sister's boy baby boy and he

was a preacher at the time and I thought this would be good, maybe

he'll be a fine upstanding citizen some day.

P: And why did you pck the other one for the other boy?

D: Because she took me around the house.

P: And your mother had told you that?

D: Yeah.

P: Was there anything else to it besides carrying them around the house?

D: I heard them say that you take them around there and you talk to

them as you go around the house and I guess may be tell them what

you want them to be when they grow up.

age 25

P: What were you doing all this time in the house?

D: I was still in bed -

P: You once told me about your reaction to wearing beads around the

baby's neck to keep him from having teething trouble What was

your reaction to that?

D: Dirty-looking.

P: What about Indian pride when it comes to things like that?

D: It was just dirty looking. They leave them on for so long and

they just look they get dirty and sweaty and it just didn't

look clean.

P: Where did you get your standar~dof cleanliness?

D: I guess from my mother.

P: She didn't go along with that kind of stuff either?

D: No, but we had to I know they did give Kelly and Murray these
two oldest
are myp sons they gave them chucked teeth to bring out the hives

and so forth My Aunt Josie was a midwife and she said that they

have to have these teeth to bring out the hives and otherwise the

hives would go in and they call it Vi hives or something like this.

P: Any other customs that you can remember?

D: Well, I remember I had a wart on my thumb and my dad said if he picked

all the seeds out of it, and rubbed some of txxitk blood fLem the

seeds, on this piece of fat j wood a little splinter of it and

buried it underneahh the doorstep, the warts would go off and

strangely enough they did. I don't know Maybe it works, who's to say?

P: Any others you can think of?

D: No, not right now.

P: In your age group, five years either side, what percentage do you think

the Indians marry non-Indians?

D: What percentage r probably 75 percent I think most of them have

page 26

out there have married Indian boys.

P: The majority have married Indian boys?

What was the reaction when you got ready to marry Dave?

D: I wouldn't know that's who I wanted to marry and ntk that's who I


P: Nobody said anything to you?

D: No.

P: What percentage in the people of your age bracket married fr.)4j' X *

D: That's what I'm trying to think now. Wait now ... Let's see you

don't know what you are You could be ... I was$ just trying to

think who's married to who out here.,,May be more of them are married

to whites.

P: There's never any reaction to anybody marrying outside the clan* ) O t

D: No.

P: What was the general feelings in the community about service men?

D: Just about the same way it was They wer e coming into their

territory and they just didn't like it. Well, all the boys in town

then, Houston and all the rest of them, a bunch of sailors come in

there and they'd run them right back. They didn't like it.

Somebody from out of town or out of state,,, Finally the navy just

called a halt to it and it was off limits to them. Everytime they

came up here, they'd send the paddy wagon up here to load them up.

P: Let me ask you husband Dave, how the navy found out about Atmore.

(r, D: Well, the town was close enough by but far enough out.

P: For example, when you were stationed in Pensacola, was it something

when you first got here, guys would say, there's a placed called Atmore

up the road?

. D: No, it was just kind of word of mouth. It was a long time... No, I

heard about it before I met you, but I just never Well, at that time,

Page 27

it was hard to get around.

P: Was it already off limits at that time?

D: No. It had been off limits at one time. It just had a lot of bars

and a good place to go.

P: You said the girls liked it or not?

D: Yeah, they liked it.

P: What about the parents?

D: I don't know too many of the Indian girls who went out with the

sailors. They used to come up here and just go to the bars and
kwai the girls were there, they'd talk to them or... I don't 4

know too many of the girls who married sailor boys, though.

P: You don't remember your parents orany of the older generation saying

anything about sailor boys?

D: No.'

P: let me get to one other question A while back, you said that one of
the goals-ek-this cultural center ... All things that you can think of -
x hatxis the most general sense What is the objective of all the work

that you are doing, people and the counselors are doing, the Indian

dance groups, cultural center and all ... What is the long range ob-

jective or the long range accomplishments that you hope to reach?

D: Well, we can ... Through the years, we have lost our identity. IAA+f

was lost with the removal. And we want to recreate this bring it

back. Something that the State of Alabama can look on us and there'd

be a pride in the state and pride in us. It will provide a lot of jobs.

P: You said the identity was lost with the removal. Can you be more specific?

D; Well, when they moved us out westi-n order to stay here, we had to

give up a lot of our customs and by this, we had to accept the white man's

way of life in order to stay here. There's not many of them that really

speak our language.

Page 28

P: I heard some of the older people say that they are kind of thankful for

the white man coming in and making them take up their way of life.

D: It's an easier way of life.

P: I was thinking of that but also Christianity. How do you feel

about that?

D: Well, I'd hate to live like they do on reservaions.

P: What chance is there, other than just saying it's a neat thing for

the State of Alabama, in trying to recreate an identity when there's

been so much economic progress being made in recent years 6 t J A ;*l

D: ** *,

P: ..Jkay, you used the word, recreate an in identity What does recreate

mean? Are you going to try and bring back the old-fashioned Indian

life? Are you going to try and preserve historic monuments like

Jamestown and is that all there is to it?

D: It's the pride of our own history that I want to see brought back.

P: Okay. WSt 4 and all that kind of things don't have much to

do with the real Creek history? t'.i a j V '.4 -

D: That's ... When people see Indians, that's what they expect to see.

The Creeks didn't look like Southwestern Indians ... They didn't

wear big war bonnets and stuff.

P: ATrying to do something in addition to preservingAreek Indiana Ars-s p'

D: Yes.

P: What is it?

D: The Indian image.

P: What is the Indian image?

D: What is the Indian image to you?

P: What is the Indian image to me? That's an unfair question to ask me

because I have so many images of Indians, as you know. I can sort of

guess what some people think of Indians this war bonnet and things

Page 29

like that. Is that what you want to do I.give people what they want?

D: No, not necessarily.

P: What do you want to give them? Are you interested in giving the public

anything? All along the way, I have been asking you questions about
4As&ari I *
Indian identity and you have been having a hard time Let me ask you

this Why do you think you have a hard time answering those questions?

D: Maybe I just really don't know what I really want out of all this f *e

P: Do you find yourself searching for words fr something that's in your


D: Yes, I do.

P: Do you feel that it's clear in your mind but you can't say it in words?

D: I have a hard time expressing myself.

P: Do you sit around and try and think up ways of saying what's on your


D: Yes, but when the time comes, it's hard for me to say what I think.

When I just sit and talk to you, it just comes out, but I know

that's there (referring to the tape machine)

P: Do you ever sit around with the exclusion, say of Houston, how often

do you sit r und and have a discussion more or less like we're

talking right now? -rI,( t (a, t 1"

D: Everytime I get together with somebody that wants ton.. I'd like to

see the Indian cultural center in existence and I'd like to have my

boys to be an active part of it. My oldest son doesn't identify with

it too much because he's light-skinned in fact, he has blond hair.

But my two youngest boys are dark and ... (tape ends at this point)

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