Title: Interview with Willie Lee Martin (January 27, 1973)
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007512/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Willie Lee Martin (January 27, 1973)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: January 27, 1973
 Subjects
Spatial Coverage: Creek County (Fla.) -- History.
 Notes
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.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00007512
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 37

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CRK 37A
SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN
INTERVIEWER: PAREDES
DATE: 1/27/73
SIDE: ONE, PAGE: ONE.










I: Testing...1..2......4...5....6...7. Today is January the twentyseventh,

1973. I'm in the home of Mrs. Willie Lee Martin...that is Mrs A.D. Martin.

If you'd begin by just...uh...so we can get some idea of what time period

we'll be talking about...saying when you were born Mrs, Martin?

S: Well I born in 1920...the fifth of September.

I: O.K...a couple of the first things I wanted to find out more about...uh...

is...recetly I understand there's been a kind of organized sewing circle

here in the community...if you could tell me about how that came about, and

what it does please?

S: Well, in the begining...uh...I would have to go into the town to the women's

circle...the Methodist and Baptist churches...the women they would get to-

gether. Uh...and I believe every two or three months. And they asked me if

I would be the guest speaker...to tell them something about how I got

started with my adult parties. And now how I got started with this is-kind

of a long story...

I: Go ahead...o.k.

S: So I'll just tell you the uh...uh...really why...how I think it got started

was through Mrs. Bradshaw. She was working here for the Episcopal Church,

and uh...she found out somehow I think it got started in Birmingham. That

uh...they taught people that didn't have any education at all...that couldn't

1












SUBJECT: MRS. A.D. MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: ...read or write...and uh...she...coming here and working with the

Episcopal Church...here she found that there was a lot of them here that

couldn't read or write at all. And...one is Elsie's mother, and her

father...well, Elsie herself...Elsie Hollingsworth that makes the quilts

now. And uh...she began to teach the ones...uh... that couldn't read or

write. Then uh...there was a lady from uh...I believe she was from

Birmingham...Blankenship...And she come down, and Mrs. Bradshaw got her

to.come here, and.look things over, and she gave some instruction place,

1: Believe it was uh...something that uh...to know who was...uh...eligible

:for.the-teachers, you know? To get teachers to handle it. And through this

1: shehad a.chart..,that uh..,well, we met...I believe there were five...

. lessons give. And uh...you were...they'd have this chart that she would

I: show-them how,. And it had to be that uh...they give the sounds of letters,

and-:then you would read...you'd give...learn those sounds, and then you'd

s: teach them the uh...by the pictures... -- i .-

I: So she was teaching the teachers?

S: Yeah...she was, you know...it was just kind of an instruction that she

would show, you know, she'd say this is a bird, and then the bee, and the

sound of 'B' is buhhh...and the bird, you give the.bird's picture that helped

them to learn the word bird. And so then we would have to get up front of

her, and...and uh...see if we could do the same thing that she did.

I: Uh huh.

S: So...yet I never dreamed of ever being...being one to be chosen for it.

There was a lot of other teachers in town, and five or six from right in

2












SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: ...here you know. So...but I was one chose for the teaching out here.

So we had to have five pupils to...or students, to start. But then we started

off with more than five...I think there's might of been 15 all together,

and me and i44ly-Mnnee another lady...that was chose for this. And in

doing this we...we really helped, but of course now the people that

started then...a lot of them are dead you know...like Margie and Ed, and

that would be Aunt Alice's sister and her husband. Well, there's several,

about as many that's all ready dead now that uh...that I had in the class.

I: What year was that when that first began?

S: Uh...that was in '63 I believe.

I: So it's been about...it's been ten...just ten years.

S: It's...it's...I believe it's been...it was '63 if I can remember.

I: How many people.do you think uh...actually learned to read out of that

program?

S: To tell you the truth...there was...there was really people that didn't know

not 'A', 'B', or...they really just didn't know anything. And through that,

there wasn't a one that started, that wasn't able to read and write his

name.

I: Um huh.

S: And not only that...but...to read.

I: Um huh.

S: I'll tell you something that happened here. This lady started in the first

begining...of course she was a young...not too young...she's in her sixties

or close to seventy now. Well...when she started...she couldn't read or

3








SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S:. ...write at all. And you know...she told me the other night...she said,

"I want to tell you how much that I know that I learned." She said I wrote

a letter the other day and I asked one of my gir...daughters to read it

that was in high school...tenth or eleventh grade...and said, you know

that child was so supprised...she...all she could say was..."Momma you

can read!" And she said that was how much that uh her daughter saw that

she had learned. And she said she was really surprised...and the daughter

was just so...got off with...that was all she could say.

1: How many of these people that couldn't read...had actually spent some

time in school when they were little do you think?

S: Now therelwas...there was...uh...I would say a third of them.

I: Um huh...that had actually been in school...

S: That had been in school?

I: But they just didn't learn ?

S: No. And too...uh...they...it was back...as I go back to the old times...it

was back, you v ow, whenthat they didn't have teachers that they have today.

I mean...when they went to school they we-ereally taught...just taught to

read and write, and of course they had learned that, but they uh...it had

been such a time, you know, that they just really hadn't cultivated...or

hadn't felt...felt that they had any use for what little bit they did have.

I: Um huh.

S: And of course af...they were...sooner to pick theirs up than uh...people

that really couldn't read and write at all.



4






SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





I: But there were about two-thirds of them you say that had never been in a

school at all?

S: Never had been...well...uh...as I said, I guess they had opportunities of

going...but then the times, you know, back then...the...school was just...

you could go I guess if you wanted to, and if you didn't...why you just

didn't go.

I: Yeah. Now you are still teaching the adult school there?

S: Yeah...I still...I still teach.

I: How many students do you have now?

S: Well now I have...I would-say on-the roll...about seven.

I: Um huh.

S: But then they all don't come every night...we average maybe three or four.

I: How often do you meet?

S: On Tuesdays and Thursday nights.

I: And where do you meet?

S: At the school.

I: You say you meet at the school?

S: Um huh. We don't have a..;uh...to tea...we...uh... only can teach about a

hour and a half or two hours is all that we can teach.

I: Now are all those people from the Indian community here?

S: Yes...they all are...they're...well, they're from --- --- .--- you know?

I: Uh huh.

S: But uh...I don't have anything but Indians...is all that I have.

I: Now...who is sponsoring this...are you just doing it free...or is there some

kind of financial support for it?

5










SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: When we first started it the Women's Auxil\liary...uh...payed. And at that

time...

I: Of the Episcopal church or...?

S: Well I don't know whether it came through that or...or how.

I: Uh huh.-

S: But...there's a lady in town, Mrs. King...she was kind of the overseer...

here. And now...the ones...when I first started there was some of the

uh...the uh...students that didn't have glasses...and that made it kind of

hard for them to...uh...read or...you now...because of the eyes. And Mrs.

King...uh...helped me through the Lion's Club...to get glasses for the ones

that needed them. And uh...later on though I ...let me see...was it '68...

'_67 or '68 I believe...the government then started...and see now they're

paid through the board of education...through Mr. 41d Ti.--- .---

I: Um huh.

S: And then we get more now. When we started off it was $50.00...but the

Women's Auxilliary paid that. And then...when the government...then they

paid by the hour.

I: Um huh.

S: We get so much an hour for teaching.

I: How much did they pay an hour for teaching? j 4s

S: I believe it's $2.....I don't remember...I don't uh... V:,I I'm not so

interested in how I get it....I mean I just love getting into it, and...and

it just...I think though that's what it is. ------------------------------

I: Do you have any connections with the Little River Community Action at all

in this?
6








SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES






S: No. No...it never has...it's nothing into this that I have. After the

government taken it...well uh...it's something similar to that, and I

have went to workshops that is something like this uh...Headstart

workshop...but uh...now I ...it's...I really don't know how much they are

connected, up with it or...

I: The program now is paid by board of education...but is it Federal Funds

that pays for it?

S: Yes...it's Federal Funds that pays it now.

I: Are you the only one teaching now?

S: I'm the only teacher...since Lilly-*Merat...you know about that...

I: Um huh.

S.: It's uh...well, I asked for another teacher, but then they thought since

I didn't have no more than what I did...that I would go ahead with it by

S: myself-

I: Just out of curiosity...what was the reaction...when you...especially when

you first began the idea of old people going to school?

S: Well...some of them...as I told you about the sound...it helped...uh...of

learning the sounds of letters...but it was so funny...they would get...I

would start with the sounds, and they would get to laughing. They said we

never heard of this before...and it was...it was really...uh...I don't know

how to say it...it was...uh...finally I had got to the place that I...I

had to drop a lot of the teaching of the sounds because it...it was just

more to them fun than it was learning. But uh...we...we...I...I dropped

a lot of it...of course I would always ask...uh the ones like Mrs. King

and...uh...she came out...she thought she could help me...she said about

7









SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN-

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: ...about all I can tell you...is give it up...if you feel that you can

do with out it. So I gave up the teaching of the sounds, but then...to

me...what helped a lot...and helped them to realize...what they were

doing, and why they were doing this...we'd give parties...we'd...we'd

Suh..,say once...we tried...once a month. Then each one would bring a

bowl...umhh...salad...chic...fried chicken...and we'd give out tickets,

and we'd make up what we liked to have. And we let them do that on their

own. And-then when...the night we had the party...we'd let each one stand

and tell how he enjoyed the school...and what it meant to him. And you

know, that picked their interest up. We found that was more for picking up

their-interest in learning than anything that we had tried..

I: Uh...how did you go about getting your first students to...just people you

knew of...or how is it done? .

S: Yes...it was...well, as I said, Mrs. Bradshaw had...a lot of the old ones,

teaching them all ready...and she helped us...Ms. Bradshaw helped us to

get our first class started. And of course we still have some of.those

that...that's ----- ---. Now we haven't been able to get too many new

ones...there was one white man that started last...year before last.

And he just couldn't read. Uh...he could write, and he knew his "ABCs".

You know...he knew them as he saw them. And he could write, but he just

couldn't read. He just was never able to sit to read. And you know...now

he... I don't know whether...he didn't feel that he fit in...you know, not

being used to us or something of that sort. He finally just give up. He

felt that he just couldn't... But we...we uh...tried...and I did what I

8







SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: ...could to help him ,but he finally just decided that he just couldn't

do it...and he hasn't been back anymore. But now the ones that have

started...t h. evw interests have been enough...I would say more for

them...or they have found...they'd soon find the value of it...just any

that may have been so good to come.

I: Back in 1963 when this first started...I know it's a hard question to

answer, but if you just give me a rough estimate...about how many people

in the Indian community really couldn't read and write at that time?

S: Well...uh...now for me....I was born and raised here from 1920...and

you know...I only could go to the sixth grade...at that time. Howev...we

were in the one-room school buildings. And we...you could only go to the

sixth grade. I never went any farther than the sixth grade...I don't know

how I ever got the job'I got. And in fact I'll tell you that I've learned

a lot. I have taught and I have learned. And I have really learned as

much as I've been able to teach 'cause I couldn't teach except what I

knew, and all of us together...I learned a lot. But uh...they were really

not any of the older people...I would say...I know they started in my

class at the age of...well, all of them was over 45. And there were none

of them...not...I mean all of the community...there are still now people

that uh...if they would come...that would really enjoy, and really be

helped...even the old. All of our older time people are just didn't have

education. You could just mainly say..."Everyone from forty or forty-five

back just didn't have any education.

I: In 1963...so that...

S: Um huh.

I: Anybody over forty-five years of age in 1963 had no education really.

S9







SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES



I: How about...were there many people under frty-five who hadn't had much

education?

S: Well...uh...that's what I mean...frty-five is the one.

I: Umh.

S: Now after...let me see...our first graduates out in here were...was...

umh...I could trace back...but right now...

I: Yeah. You mean high school graduates?

S: Yeah. A

I: Uh huh.

S: They...they started I reckon in...I guess after the school was built...I

believe.

I: Uh huh...after 1950 then sometime?

S: I believe that was about our first...there might have been some before then,

but if it were...it was just a few.

I: Let's go back to the sewing circle...that's where we first started...uh,

but in order to tell me about the sewing circle you had to tell me about

the adult school.

S: Yeah...we...as I said...I get to talking...I get all mixed up.

I: But they had...the ladies in town had asked you to come and just talk

about what you were doing with the adult school?

S: Yes...and they really didn't know...uh...how it was going on...you see there

was a lot of the teachers at...that...as I said were going to this instruction

that she give...or this demonstration or whatever you would say that she

gave on this...but uh...at that time they were trying to .get...uh...as

many classes even in town and all around that they could get.

I: Uh huh.

S10
--1-







SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: And of course you had tog get your own students to go you know...to get

payed. But uh...going back to the sewing circle...that was how that got

started. They...they wanted to help...now there were...uih...Maxine

would be...she...they helped her. Of course there was a lot of it through

the Episcopal church that helped her with her education. And she's a

school teacher now. And in telling....

I: Where does she live now?

S: She lives in... Monroeville. She's married. She married last year I

believe at uh...in college. And...but she's teaching school now in Monroe-

ville. But uh...they helped her through her high school, and uh college.

And then uh...Calley McGhee...Calley's girl, Martha JAckson...

I: Um huh.'

S: She uh...they started helping her...and thy came to my house to ask me

some questions about it...some of the ladies from town...and uh...they said,

well I said why can't you help the boys? I said...you know I think girls

need education, but I...I am more again women working...I don't know why,

but I just feel that...especially with a family...now of course if...it's

all right...I'm...I do 't have anything against it,but I don't have anything.

for it either. But uh...I...I just asked a question...why wasn't it that

they couldn't help the boys get an education...'cause the boys was always

the bread winner in...in my days. Growing up we always felt that uh...the

men you know...of course...uh...you can always ask anybody the girls are

the smartest it seems...right now. But uh...so that...that was really how

the sewing circle got started...was through this kind of help. and then they


11











SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: ...talked about the women...they didn't...they didn't know why the

women's circles wouldn't help boys, but they was always...they wanted to

help the girls.

I: Yeah.

S: They didn't know how...it was just a question that uh...when I asked them
II If
did they...they said you know, I just hadn't given any thought to it, but

they just don't do it. But they said well they would like to look into it

...after we talked awhile. So uh...when they left...just somehow or

another the thought come to me...what could our community do. Now here they

were helping out here...they had chose this girl to help...and they wanted

to help, and all one thought...just all through that afternoon I kept

thinking...what could we do? And uh...why was it we couldn't do something

in our own community...for our own...uh with...uh...working among ourselves.

So I called...it was Mrs. Grimes from frtiuauf...and uh...a Ms.Christianson

from Fairholdt...Ms. Grimes was in Attmore...and I called Ms Grimes and I

talked to her...and I asked her what did she think about it...and her...what

did she think...uh...that Ms. Christianson would say about it...or feel about

uh...uh...us starting some ting...a wman's circle by our own. And oh...it

just really...she...she thought it was just the nicest thing that we could

do...she really liked the idea of getting started, and she right away

- wanted to help us. And uh...she said she would get in touch with Ms.

Christianson, and see what she thought about it. So...from that, different

ones started helping us, and we met together, and we got organized, you

know, by president and secretaries and things of that sort. So our first

12









SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: ...thought was to have a chicken supper, you know how that goes here.

Chicken suppers are always the handiest things when you're going to sell

food, you know, our way.- So we had a couple.of chicken suppers to get us

some money to get started with...and then we had rummage sales...and from

that we just picked up at uh.... Now our first buying out of our women's
teA, A1ce
circle...was a hospital bed that -------is using now.

And we thought that that was just really something....

I: Yeah.

S: Then of course we've used a lot of our money in keeping up the school

building.

I: Uh huh. Now how many...how many...who were the people who originally

started the sewing circle...yourself, and who else were some of the first

ones to get it organized?

S: Well...it was myself and my daughter, and then it was Lil Brenner and her

daughter-in-law, and my daughter-in-law...well it was just...we wanted...

when we had our first meeting, our plans were that we would choose one out

of each community to put in as a secretary, and the treasurer, and the

president...we'd choose one out of each community...and uh...

I: By community you mean...?

S: Like Pretr.. and down where Calvin lives, and up here.

I: Um huh.

S: And uh...we would all just come together as the three communities and make

it up. But uh...it didn't...they never had a...more...more interest in

coming up here. I guess it being that far from them, and then they had a

lot of church activities...in both churches, you know, at Porch and ----

13











SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





I: Uh huh.

S: And they never did seem to have too much interest in coming ot help us so

it just left this community.

I: Yes.

S: So it...then we had to go an...an uh...put in new members, you know, and

of course we got them around here...and they just....

I: Tell me....

S: I think about twelve...I guess it would be all together ...when they all

meet. And we have worked good together...we reall- don't meet as often as

we should because of sickness and different ones with their jobs, and P.T.A.

meetings, and everything going on at night. We...we have been able to meet

as often as we....

I: The idea was not just to sew things...but to somehow do something for

the community?

S: We just wanted to band together...to help in the time that we feel need to

be....

I: Now you do actually do some sewing when you get together sometimes?

S: Yes we...now as I said...we have a...uh...now before Thanksgiving see we

just met to this house. And the ones that could meet and sew they did.

Of course like Katherine, and different ones around, they were working in

Headstart and they couldn't come.

I: Katherine who?

S: Sayres...that's Roberta's uh...daughter-in-law, and Julie Ann...uh...but

now fparie her sister, she could help us. And the ones that could come and

14










SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: MARTIN





S: ...quilt, they just pitched in and quilted the ones that we sold for the...

But...and then what they could do...uh...uh...together...they did, you

know, like...uh...uh...helping Katherine with the posters, and Julie Ann

was doing what she could do. And we all just worked that way together, that

we just never did....

I: Now..at the Thanksgiving...uh...pow wow...there were quilts...and were those

pot holders made by the sewing circle too...were they...?

S: No...now those pot holders a lady had give them...to...she wanted to help-.

"I: Uh huh.

S: And she...uh...did these home...at her home.

I: Um huh.

S: And she would bring them in...and she brought them and give them to them.

Martha up here to the store...that she just wanted to help us.

I: Yeah. Now you mentioned a hospital bed, and you've helped out on the school,

are there any other specific things that the circle has given the community,

or gotten for the community? Well what kinds of things have you done up

at the school...specifically?

S: Well...well, we bought the curtains for the windows, and we paid for this

pole light that's out ithe front, you know, to protect the school build-
-loea ;TO7Lr_&
ing...the...the uHeAliafe wouldn't. So uh...we're paying for that.

I: One other important question...how...when was it that the ccwing circle

started...how long ago has that been?


15








SUBJECT: WILLIE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: It was in the summer...I...I'll have to give you the date of our first

meeting...but I really just don't know...but it was before the first

Thanksgiving that they had up here.

I: Uh huh...But it's not been very long though?

S: No.

I: No.

S: No...it hasn't been very long at all.

I: Do you remember from your own youth...was there ever any other organized

sewing circle thing like this in the Indian community that you know of?

S: This was the first.

I: This was the first one?

S: That I ever knew anything about. Uh...as I said though...we...we used to,

in this community, we have been, and I guess maybe this was a lot of our

backing, with what we're doing now...we were always...if somebody got in

need...we always, just the community...would meet, and if it was for

uh...getting together for a shower to give them something that they needed,

now here the other day, all the women go together, and with Aura vmra-

has her father, and of course she needed a lot of sheets...which...

I: AmAe Stit?

S: Uh huh...and she had to wash a lot...see she just washed all...and she

really keeps him clean I tell you. And you know if you do...if you do that

it's washing.

I: Yeah.

S: So we just got together, and we'd taken some refreshments up to her house,

16








SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: ...and she didn't know anything about it, and we took her sheets and towels

and things, and we just had a party with her, and... And we've always done

things like that.

I: Here in idaede ------------?

S: Yes...and uh...of course that comes under our sewing circle...because it's

the women that's in the sewing circle that dOb these thing/. And...

I: You mentioned P.T.A. is there still a P.T.A. associated with the school

out there?

S: No...they...that's how that we had to take over the lights...when the P.T.A.

was there...then they payed for this. Like being that...

I: When the P.T.A. was there did the people from Prech and Heg-Fort take part

in that too?

S: Yes...they...they were...well, I'll tell you how we got that done.

Uh...we...we usually...we found that if uh...if the president...uh...say

most of the office members, you know, was elected from those communities,

then they, you know, then they had an interest.

I: Uh huh.

S: And we tried always, you know, to keep that going...and it...it...it was

a help. And of course now in the time that the school was going on...uh...

they were...uh they did have a big interest in helping.

I: Uh huh...but you couldn't do that with the sewing circle huh?

S: No...I just wasn't able to do it. I...I...I think though...it wasn't...one

of the things was that uh...uh...they had so much going in their churches.

See there was different...now of course they...even Perch has a different

17









SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN
INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: ...denomination of church than the folks in eg ort .

I: Uh huh.

S: And they was just I guess in that circle...we'd say together that each

uh...community.....

I: In your sewing circle do you have people from...I think I know the

-: answer...but...other members of the Episcopal church 6 Parrth Community

Church...both in the sewing circle?

S: Now uh...I think...there might be...I would say three or four...or hardly

that from the Episcopal Church that does take part.

I: Uht huh. ..uh huh.
1WeSd; e
S: I- guess Iwould say because Elsie, and 414e4a May, and Berngstine...they're

": all-in the Episcopal Church, and they do help.

It: Uh huh.

S: Guess-so it would mean...these two churches...well in fact...the Episcopal

"Church and our church they work a lot together.

I: im hiuh.

S: It's really our community.

I: Um huh.

S: I...I think we've got to the place...we handle...don't holdAnominations as

much as some churches do today. We...we kind of use ours more as a family

and community...than...because we visit each other in our churches, and

that sort of thing.

I: O.k. now Mrs. Martin we can talk about old times...just start anyplace

where we were talking before or anything...just start talking.

18








SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: Well now...thinking of the...the churches...I remember that my mother used

to say that uh...there was this preacher...they called him...Ger...Joh*.

I believe his name was Jaibra.... that used to come through every so often,

he'd come through with his wag...uh...buggy...horse and buggy...

I: Um huh.

S: And they...he...they would...he would stay maybe a week, and have

meetings with them, and he would teach them. But you know I find that they

were taught then...a lot of things that we just don't find in scripture.

Well, we find it in scripture, but what I'm saying is...like if you killed

a man...you didn't get forgiven. Because if you took something that you

couldn't give then God wouldn't forgive you.

I: Um huh.

S: Well, you don't find that in the scripture...it says God forgives everything

but sinning against the Holy Ghost. And that was one thing that they were

taught. And I find that a lot of things in their teaching...well, of course

now they loved and cared for each other. And what they knew...it kept them

from really...even wanting to have murder in their heart.

I: Um huh.

S: Because they felt that that was one thing, and to me I don't think after
/I
all that it did any harm to them...it helped them.

I: Um huh.

S: And even though I have to say that it was the.has of God...it was just

God with them. It helped them to do the things that they done back in those

days...with what little of it they had to do with.

19









SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





I: Now you said that uh...you remembered that uh...Fred Walker was a leader

of sorts...

S: Yeah...he....

I: Would you talk about that again? .

S: He used to...he would gather all the young girls together...of all the

young people, and we'd have a prayer meeting on Wednesday night...and oh

we loved singing...and we'd just sing, and our...even now)I can remember

how different that was, and what it really meant to us...comparing to what,

how church and things of that sort is now.a-days...you know singing and

all. It just...and he would be the leader. And oh...of course I can just

see him, you know, that I...he just carried on with us in his leading of

the old-time songs and we uh...he knew them in his memory, and we...from

him we'd just sing along, and we just memorized them...we didn't have a

book.,

I: Um huh. How else was it different then than it is now when you go.to

church?.

S: Well we met together...as I said, we met together and we'd just sing, and

we talked, and we...we had of course...my mother always taught us that to

be reverent.

I: Um huh.

S: Even when someone was praying...that you just wasn't to...to talk or say

anything, you know, it was just the quietness that...that uh...and to me,

the children, you didn't have to just keep after...today...you know

children now today in church...they really don't...have what we had then
somehow 20
somehow. 20







SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





I: Um huh.

S: Because it...this just...you have to really always just cauti on them that

what's going on.

"I: Um huh.

S: And that...I know we really appreciated that old man. We loved that man.

We appreciated what he was doing for us, and we believed him. We...we just

our confidence in him meant something to us I think more than what you find

"ii people now-a.days. -- .. -

I: Um huh. Now why did he...why was it that he took this upon himself to do

that. ..you think?

S: Well, as I said, to me I just feel that God could use him...and he did be-

i: cause he uh...his family life wasn't all that perfect.

I: Um huh.

S: And of course he really had problems in his home. In fact his wife left

him-years after. And uh...he stayed a widower for a long time, but you know

even while he was a widow...he really done more...after he was a widow...

than he was in his family. Not...not saying that it was that wrong with him

being married...it wasn't.

I: Um huh.

S: But he...he just found more time...and up until he died...he was a man.

that was trying to carry the word of God.

I: Um huh. Did he ever try to be a leader, you kn6w, in everyday practical

kinds of things...helping people at all?

S: Well uh...at that time'he had some children to take care of after his wife

left him...he worked...he really worked more in a farm and garden...but we

21









SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: ...always could go to his house.

I: Um huh.

S: And..!other words he was somebody that we could really just depend on. You

know he could look up...this is a fact that I know that has happened...we

would say Uncle Fred...is it going to rain? And we wanted to have a party

or something. He'd look up, and they wouldn't be a...a cloud around that

you could see...and he'd say well, about Thursday it will be raining, and

sure enough...when Thursday came that rain came. I know that has happened

so many times to that man.

I: He just had a gift for that, or did he ever tell you how he did it or what?

S: He...at night he would tell us that he...there was a railroad that come
.tre s-f/e.
close to his house...and down this railroad there was a ssle....and he
ftres ie-
used to tell us that he would go down to that dcees&e...eleven and twelve

o'clock at night...and he said I would walk out...and...and...he studied

the stars. I think that he...'cause he knew a lot about the stars. And I

think that his...he...he learned it of him...his own...you know...through

God's help.

I: Um huh.

S: And through his uh...determination. I just feel that it was just a determ-

ination he had...that...that he-earned these things)a lot of it I guess

through the stars...and uh...

I: Um huh. Did he ever have any...any stories...sort of like fairy tales

about the stars that he would tell people?

S: No...he didn't. Uh...

22










SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





I: When he would talk to the young people or something like that?

S: He would tell of olden times. Now I rememebr he used to tell us about

"Haints" ...he was the person that really knew them "Haints"...and he always,

told us, you know, the tales, to children like...about different things

happening like that.

I: Um huh. About the "Haints" Huh? Do you remember any of the stories at

all?

S: Well, he used to tell us one about this house...he said there was a house

thatuh...l...he...I don't remember whether it was around in this

community, or whether it was someplace that he had went. But there was a

house he-said-.that uh...you could go in this house and uh...and uh...to go

to sleep, and it was a house kind of....people didn't live there and uh...

S- it was for that reason thatgthey couldn't...and he said that about twelve

o'clock at night ...you'd just go...just...just like tubs of rocks,

pooring out on the top...and he said you could come out, and look around,

and it wesjust as quiet, and the moon would be shining pretty, but as

soon as you would go to bed that...you could hear that noise. Things of

that sort he used to tell us, and he used to tell us a lot of times too

about uh...uh...people was warned of their death back in his days, he used

to say that uh...uh...if a person told you that uh...to...he was going to

die...and they could always even tell you the time of the...date that

they was going to die.

I: People knew before hand...he would talk about this,


23









SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER:' PAREDES







S: And you know...my mother told us...she said when her mother died,

she said she called them to her bed one night...one evening...and

uh...she talked to them...all the girls and boys...she said...the

children...she talked to them and told them...she said tomorgw when the

sun goes down...when the sun began to set...said the esrnS is coming after

momma. And said I want you all to be good children...I want you to care

for your father...and uh...but she said...now God is going to send the

eng S for me tomorrow evening. And she said sure enough...the next

evening...when the sun began to set...said her momma started dying...said

that she would tell them...don't you all see the :-e...said they are here

for me. And she said in a little while her momma died. Now you know to me,

that has just made me without a doubt...knew that God cared for people then

as much as he does today. And they...they used to tell us...now tales of

that sort was what that they lived on...and they handed down.

I: Um huh.

S: And too...to me that was love. They loved and was close to each other...that

much.

I: Do you think people were more that way then than they are now?

S: I really do. I...you know...now you've just got to show somebody something,

just...they just got to know it. But now back then...she said that uh...her

...my daddy's sister...they were so close to each other...my momma and my

daddy's sister...and uh the night that uh...she got so sick...my momma told

my daddy...she said, you know, something has happened to Emma...that was her

24








WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: ...name...said something has happened to Emma. And uh...he asked her why.

Said...why she sit here beside my bed so long...said she's been sitting

here on my bed...and said something...I know has happened to her. And sure

enough...when they got up the next morning they found out they had to take

her to Mobile that night to the hospital...and she never lived to come

back home.

I: And when was that...that was when you were a girl?

S: No...that was, you know, back when they were first married, you know.

I: Um huh.

S: But bac..she...they used to tell us things of that sort a lot. Why there're
S:
just a lotta....

I: Back in those days how did they get to Mobile?

S: They would have to go...I think...I believe it was a train, but they would

have to go to Flomaton...I believe it was to Flomaton then to catch a train.

I'm not sure but I think, and from there I think they would have to go I

guess in a buggy or something else.

I: Um huh. You know speaking of those olden times...one thing I've asked a

lot of people is...if they can remember when they were young, and ever

hearing any of the older people using any Indian language of any kind...or

a word or two?

S: My mother...at one time she said to us that her...her momma had told them

...well it would be my mother's grandmother that did speak a few words of

Eng...Ind...uh...Creek...I believe.



25










SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





I: Your mother's grandmother's name was what?

S: Louisa I believe.

I: And her last name?

S: Let's see...my mother was Mary Hathcock. And I believe her mother was either,

either Polly Menac...or Louisa Menac...I don't remember which. That's

further back and I can't remember...but I think that that's...that's how it

was.

I: But by the time that you came along there weren't any people left that knew

even a word or two of it?.
C1 Iuh
S: She would say 'bobew-ti-tutl" wa uh...you're a bad boy...I believe that's

what she said.

I: Say that again!

S: Uh..."bobowa titula' ...I think that's whe- my mother used to say that her

grandmother said that uh...and uh..."ch unee"...I...I can't remember that,
i i
but some how or other that meant the money.
/1.
I: "Chn'inee?"
*1 I
S: "Chununee"...I think that.was...I...I can't put that other together. I used to
I '
could...but you know I...I can't...I...me and old Bubba was talking about

that some time ago...that we were going to get together, and see if we

could, you know, think of some of those things back.

I: Uh huh. But those were...when you were brought up those were just kind of

rarities...or oddities...they weren't everyday conversation?

S: No...they just...just done at times when we'd get together, and we'd start

questioning her...that she...we helped her to think of, yOu knou.-

26
\









SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





I: Uh huh.

S: And uh...and she would sometimes...she would say well maybe sometime if I

think of it I'll tell you more, but then we would always, you know, maybe

never have the time to...

I: Yeah...but you did when you were growing up...you all knew that you were

Creek Indian ancestry ?

S: Yes.

I: Um huh. Do you remember your parents ever talking about...uh...you've got a

phone call I guess...

S: My mother used to from the distance that I would live from Roberta. Now...you

can know about the distance that I am from Roberta from here.

I: Yeah.

S: In the cfternoons...if uh...we...she wanted us she could call us this

distance. And we would hear her and come home.

I: Did she call you by name...or did you just have a special signal that she...?

S: Well, she would call...she would call us by name.

I: And you could hear your name over that...?

S: We could hear...we could hear our name.

I: I'll be....

S: And...and uh...even all around from that distance people could holler and call

their cows. Back then the cows would leave home, and they'd go, you know, in

the woods to graze all day...and then they would call those cows in the evening,

and you know those cows would hear that and they would come home.

I: Can you....

27










SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: I can remember that as well as if it was just now.

I: Of course back in those days I guess there weren't so many cars zipping

-up and down the highway making other kinds of noise.

S: Well yeah...you can hardly talk over the telephone and hear anybody over the

telephone now. And back then it was the quietness and all, and as I was

telling-you about this old man...in...in...at that time...the night was so

still...the moon would shine, and you could just hear people or...it was

S-justso different from what it is now.

TI Um huh. It's a different world now. Uh...I was going to ask you...uh before,
"1: if you could...compare Fred Walker and Calvin Meghee. Were the two men a like

inany way or different in important ways?

S: Umh,..well uh...no I..I...in some of their ways...you would say that they were

a-lot alike.- --

I: Um huh.

S: Of course Calvin carried one thing...and he carried another...I think that I

could say that Uncle Fred was more on the Bible...uh...of course Calvin,

you know, he worked for his people...and if they got in trouble...lawsuits,

or things of that sort...Calvin...and I guess)there too their education made

a difference.

I: Um huh.

S: Calvin really had a lot more education...even though he had just a little bit,

it was a lot more than Uncle Fred had.

I: Um huh...uh...

28









SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: Uncle Frei was more memory...now as I said of his teaching of the

Bible. When the preachers come through...to me...I feel that Uncle Fred

had that determination that when...whenever he were taught these things he

remembered them. And now, you know, you've got to read...uh...tomorrow

you've got to read from the book. But I...I think he...he remembered uh,

uh...what the preachers would say whenever they would come through...what he,

well, he knew the Bible.

I: Not being able to read...he had to commit it to memory3I guess.

S: Um huh.

I: One thing that I had heard people talk about that had happened before you

were born...but I wonder if you remember your parents talking about it...was,

oh...back in the early 1900s...some men coming through here trying to

sign up people for Indian money back then...do you remember your parents

talking about that?

S: YeslI do.

I: What did they have to say about that?

S: Well, you know they...I think that they have found...that they found the

documents, you know, up there...that they had signed up. Yet uh...well, you

see my daddy and momma lived to sign on this time.

I: Um huh.

S: And of course that helped....




END SIDE ONE


29








CRK 37A
SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN
INTERVIEWER: PAREDES
SIDE: TWO.












I: Now...you were just about to say that uh...when your mother and daddy

signed up...that helped them to remember a lot before...go ahead back...you

recall that back..-.

S: Even...I was saying...that even uh...their parents had heard of it, you

know, before them. Now I don't know how that they knew about it, but uh,

their parents had known that there was ...uh...this Indian money was owed

to the Indians.

1: Now you said that there was a preacher Perry?

S: I believe it was a Perry, I'm not sure, but I think that that's who signed

them up.

I: Well...signed your parents up?

S: Uh huh. Then how he...how he uh...knew about it, or how he got his information,

I don't know whether they was ever able to know.

I: But then your parents talked of it before even preacher Perry...their parents,

then had been talking about the Indian Money?

S: I don't know how they knew it. Uh...how it came about for them...but...as I

said, all that they had said that all their lives they had heard Indian money

being owed to the Indians.

I: And that's...I guess that's been one thing that kept people very much aware

of the fact that they were...they were Indians...uh...talking about that

Indian money?
30









SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: Uh...Mr. Paredes...there's something that I have thought of so

many times...and I mean maybe I...I have a right maybe to think of

i+ different...you know, knowing my foreparents back...how, really

did the Indians get here?

I: Um huh.

S: Yeh...I'd just love to know that I could really have some clue to

believe how they got here.

I: Why don't you. tell what Uncle John had to say about how the

Indians got here?

S: Well...uh...he...his parents, I guess had told him that, and maybe

their parents had told them. I never read it in the Bible, but he

says...he always said to me it was in the Bible. That they had...uh,
ft ).
drifted down this river....he didn't know what river, but they had

drifted down this river, and had found themselves here, and they
If II
started from there. And uh...but they really had come from the redman,

and he never knew...that was all he ever knew about...I guess what to

say...uh...any about it...was that they had came from the redman.

I: Um huh.

S: And that's how they had got here, and I guess maybe he...uh...meant

maybe fishing or hunting or something of that sort, but they drifted

off and I guess a group of them no doubt.

I: Yes...of course there're are lots of different groups of Indians

all over the country...and the exact story how each group got

where they are...it could well be that that's the story...coming down

31








SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





I: ...the river. Well let me go back and sort of change the subject,

get back to something you've said. When you first started

talking before we.turned on the machine, you said that you were

trying to describe how things used to be and you were talking

about your people, and the way it was, and you said something

about...about how they were set aside or something...?

S: Well...uh....as I said, my foreparents...were...at that time I

used to hear my mamma say that they used to associate all together

here, and then she said that they had got to the place that uh...they,

well I guess a division come between-them somehow...and it just

made this...that one part be over here, and the other ones over

.there,.and to me the Indians were just put down as if they were

nothing. I mean they...they just wasn't considered More to me,

and:the way some of the things that happened...were slaves, and
I
they weregtreally counted as people...I mean as somebody. Because

I--remember even in my day that uh...my mother's sister used to work

for a family of white folks up here, and they payed her with milk,

and greens from the garden, but every day she worked for them. But

she was never allowed to sit with them to eat to the table...she

was never allowed to associate around, and you would just...she was

just counted more as just a servant.

I: Um huh. Do you have any ideas about why that division came between

the Indians and the whites?


32









SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: I don't know what happened...I...I never learned...really what

happened. I did hear my parents say that it was at one time that

they associated. But I know in our day...and I said that's one thing

that come between the schools. Now away from here...the Indians

could always go to school with the white people...even as far as

Nocomos down here.

I: Um huh. ,C(o

S: But from Geea to this part...from here up to-Qeeia...they were

just...it seems it were just...I don't know...that they always

just lived to be. Now a lot of people said it was because of the

drinking. Since I've been grown...to really realize...and know

myself...white people drink just as much as-Indians. And oh of

course the Indians, if they done anything that was really, well,

we'd say stealing, or killing, or some of that stuff, it was just,
tl 1)
you were just classed...them ol' Indians...but I find it, there're

just as many white people doing it as there are Indians. But they're

never...it's never the white people...maybe they' l. VQ'i by name,

but if just one Indians do something, then you'll find then that you'll

hear...just to be around very much...you'll find...if one Indian does
I) II
wrong...it's...those old Indians...

I: Is there....

S: And that's been more from ages I guess.

I: Is there much of that feeling still left around do you think?


33









SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: Yes they are. More with the older. Now you take the young generation

of people...they're...they're intermarrying so in Indians...til it's

breaking down that gap a lot. But I find there are a lot of the old,
I, Ii
older white people, really, it's...those old Indians.

I: They still feel that way?

S: Now I know here...last summer...there was a bunch of the boys, the

white girls left home...and they left with uh...they got with some

of the Indian boys. Well, the girls left home and got with the boys,
i\ II
but it was what those old Indian boys were doing to their girls.

They didn't think of it was their girls that left and got with the

Indian boys. It was just that they needed somebody to blame. And I

find that that still can uh...is in a lot of this with the, oh I

guess you'd say in the hearts of the people yet, but it...I find

it's more of the elder people than it is the young ones.

I: Were those girls from right around here or from...?

S: From town.

I: From town? And did you actually hear people make statements about
t(
those old Indians?

S: Yes.

I: Uh huh.

S: Yes...on my telephone...they called...uh...my boy was with these
Ro I aC4,
Rollin boys that was with the girls, and they come out, the girls

had left home, and they thought these boys had the girls, and you

know they had the law to pick these boys up and put them in jail.

34









SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES




II
S: This woman called me, and she said well...your boy wasn't doing
I)
anything Mrs. Martin...then she began to say...quote...uh...some,

what somebody else said about the old Indian boys taking the girls.

Arid I said...well, did you ever think that it's your old white girls

that's meeting these old Indian boys...I made the statement to her,

I said...maybe that's what parents ought to think of...it would

help a whole lot...if they would just really...stop to think, it's
:.-- -. / .. I _-. /T.
hEe old white girls that's meeting these old Indian boys.

I: Was there any trouble about that at all?

S: They wasn't never able to do anything because I think the girls

was ruffled up they just never did get them calm enough to do anything

about it. That...that happened I think...uh...twice, just in the

past year. And they've wanted to do something about it, but they've

never been able to do. I think a lot of that too has been...proven,

where...that the Indians are not all together what...what they...they,
I r.'- ::- .- .. .. -
don't have to wear what the white people want them to wear. I think

that's helping a whole lot.

I: Now how do you mean that...I'm not sure...?

S: Well, in other words if they could do something to the Indian boys

for doing this to the girls-they'd pick them up.

I: Yeah...

S: But I think the girls is going to have after a while stay in the

place that they are.

I: Uh huh.

35










SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





I, I)
S: In other words, the old Indian boys won't care what they are doing.

they're going to prove to themselves that they're...you know, you

can...whatever you ddis going to tell on you sometime.

I: Yes...now you-were speaking of the police. Uh...do you think in

S the past there was ever any discrimination by the police against

the.Indians...or the sheriff's department or anything...or...or has

That been one area that there hasn't been any discrimination?

S: No...I.don't think that uh...not that I can recall really. As I

said...that...that is one help I feel that has...that has helped

the Indians a lot more than the money has. That with...with Calvin,

after.he was appointed chief, that he did, through what he learned

in-lawsuits, and with this Indian money, he learned a lot. That

they-couldn't-do everything that-they wanted to. Now uh...I know

that whenever they get into trouble...Calvin was always able to

help them. And then after they began to vote, then naturally you

know how politics goes...and that had a lot to do with uh...giving

Calvin...uh...

I: There were a lot of Indians...

S: In other words, noticing him more, for...for the politics, as it was

for the uh...uh...really the right..

I: Were there a lot of Indians that just didn't vote before he came

along?

S: Yes...there was a lot.

I: Huh.

36











SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: They...they...as I said, we were just set aside, and when I said

for nothing, it meant for a lot of things.

I: Uh huh...voting was one of these?

S: Voting was one of the things...they were just....

I: Did work...do you recall say...back before...when you were a girl,

were there some Indians that did go and vote? '

S: Well now...to me.. my first uh knowing of the Indians voting...now

it could even -go-back-farther than this..-.but uh, you know they had

uh...if you payed your poll tax...and 1 think that that helped a lot,

was money stirring up...that if you payed your poll tax you could

vote...because there was a lot of them as far back as I can recall,

that payed...it was a good bit to catch them up you know. Um huh,

and they payed their poll tax which made them eligible to vote.

I: Umn huh. Well, were there actually people that went out in the

countryside trying to get people to pay their poll tax?

S: Yes there were.

I: Um huh.

S: It'slsad. to say...there was a lot of them that payed their poll tax

to get their vote.

I: I know...that was the only reason they payed it.

S: it .

I: Uh huh.


37










SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: And as I said...to me...that's how I feel...now maybe it wasn't.

I: Uh huh.

S: But I feel that that was a law that they broke to get the Indians

to vote.

I: Do you think that there were some people that would, say pay an

Indian's poll tax, but not let that Indian vote...vote the way he

wanted it to be?

S: Well, I think that they really, you know, they felt that uh...in

who payed it...that they did get their vote.

I: Well I see...uh huh...I see. I...I understand what you're talking

about now. But that was... L e- *) ,, F l -1 -

S: But then again I think that it really helped...I mean it give them,

uh...really pieessdges that other people had.

I: That was the first step sort of in getting out their...?

S: Well now to me as I remember it...I...I know that...that at the time,

my brother, you know, used to candidate for people. They...they growed

step by step in to doing a little more and a little more until they

really now have got to the place that they uh, have privileges as

everybody else does, you know.

I: One thing that I wanted to ask you about was...had you started to

school before they consolidated all the Indian schools to the one, to

the one here?

S: Mine was finished at that time...I had children, you see to go up

here.

1 38
\










SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





I: Um huh. But I...I understood that before this new school was

built...back in the '30s sometime...that they had...that some of

the...like thej -----------

S: Yes...I went up here to the church.

I: Uh to the church school?

S: Uh huh...yes.

I: That they had started bringing them in from Hog Fork, an- ,

and those different places to this school.

S: Um huh.

I: Do you remember when they did that?

S: Yeah...I went here then...but of course I had been out...well I started

school...uh...six years old...and when I was twelve I finished. The

sixth grade was as far as I could go. And I guess I was...fifteen or

sixteen at that time anyway...or maybe older...I guess I was...I...

anyway, I went one year...when it was into the church house, I

thought maybe that would help me to pick up, but I hadn't been you

see, for so long...

I: Now when you went to school...were all the children from .Hedapo

or were there...?

S: No...just the Hed4apda. children.

I: Just H.daptodna. But then you went one year to the church school

after they started bringing them on in.

S: Um huh.


39








SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





I: Was that any different...of course you were...had been out of school

you said for awhile?

S: Well I...I wasn't able to really tell, you know, you see it was so

different from the time that I had went...up until the time that

they were...started, you know, different methods of teaching and

all. That it was just completely different from what I went.

I: Um huh. What was school like when you went? How many teachers did

you have, and all that?

S: I remember the school I went to Mr. Paredes. I...I can remember it
ac ne o erf ir i
just as it was yesterday. We had a teacher by the name of Birdie

May Weaver, she was from Castleberry, and there weren't...aren't...it

wasn't a very big school, but it was from, you know, first through

the sixth. And there was a long bench, and there's where we had our

class...you were called from your desk to set on this long bench to

the black board...and there we read or we had our arithmetic on the

black board. But we used to have programs a lot...for every

holiday I guess we had a program...and there's where we got a lot

of our learning...was through programs. But this was just a smart

teacher. And you know...I know...that through her help...and how

she cared for us...that our education come really at that time...of

what our...we learned. I can say not only myself, but the ones that

went at the time I did. And you know, at recess...she would get the

girls, and we loved her that well... and she taught...she was the

only one...uh...person...that ever showed me anything of embroidery.

40








SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: She taught us to embroidery because she would take the girls,

and she would be embroidering herself, and she would teach us to

embroidery. And then she would always teach us in uh...wearing of

clothes, and things of that sort.

I: Did she live here in the community, or did she live off in

Castleberry, or...? ?ofr

S: No...she lived in town...she roomed in town And uh...but her home

was in Castleberry.

I: And she came out every day?

S: Right...she'd come every day...from town. But it was just that

uh...each class, you know, or each group...uh...would have their

lessons...and that is the way they wetd-----------.

I: And she was the one teacher for all of the...for all...?

S: For all of the classes-.

I: Well...one more thing...I remember you one time before...when I

just came by for a visit...you were comparing what's happened

through the years with the Indian people...with what's happened with

the colored people, and I think you also mentioned the Choctaws in

Mississippi...would you talk about that...those comparisons that you see

there?
I1 ft
S: Well, as I said uh...I know back in the time that it'was hard times

I would say...uh...the days of...well, whatever they call them now,
ift It
I can't remember now but anyway...you know it's everybody. They...they

wasn't --'- or electricity, and telephones and all...we lived

b ack then...uh there wasn't nobody that uh really was uh...in other

41









SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: ...it was all about in the same category. But uh...to us...it was hard.

Uh...to me...uh...there was in our community...right around in here. It

was hard for us when we were growing up. The home that I feel that I

have, and my children, is just rich...compared to the living that we had

;..cause we had to...we ate in one room...we slept in one. And it was,

it was that we really couldn't do any better. I know that...that at that

time...I mean the it...it was that you farmed with a mule, and it was

just uh...and if you went in debt that year..the man in town didn't

mind...he took what was his...regardless of whether you had anything

left or not. That's how it went, and if you didn't make it then you just

Didn't have it...and it was that hard for us...our living. But now with

the Choctaws...over there...they have just been set far enough back,

that even with the electricity and things, the white man has kept them

down...or the families that I know about that have left the reservation.

That they still...don't have the privilegkes...don't...uh...their electricity.

Hits back to me...when I go over and visit with them...it's back to what

we used to be. And I can feel that even now. That we just didn't have

these things. I remember the lamp light...and what a hard time...in fact

most of itffirelight.., d with them now they have...I don't know whether

its them that they haven't wanted to or whether it's been just to me...I

want to think that the white man just hasn't give them a chance yet to

really live as they could if they...if it wouldn't be that they just wanted

them down to work for. them.

I: Well then...also what about..-uh...the colored people...how do you see

42









SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





I: ...them in relation to this?

S: Well, the visiting that I did with them over there...actually with Mr.

-Waeb& over there...the time he got started with the missionary work. And

these families had left the reservation...as long as they keep them on

e reservation...they'll send them to school...and they'll send them...

whenever they get...uh...I believe that it was high school that they

-sent them...I believe i aes- Oklahoma to different places that they

sent them to college. That it's this Indian through the government that

: --es it.

I: Urm huh.

S: -But the ones that would, leave the reservation...that they wouldn't have

,any uh...dealings with...as helping them...then uh...they would come to

.the white man.. the white man would get them there with them. And I were

.told, by Mr. Wheeland...of course I know he told the truth...that these

,white men would work these Indians...and they would only give them the

cigarettes after they had used them. And that's how they...they would

maybe do half a day's work to get those.

I: Umhhh. And that's just been recently now?

S: That's just in the past year. Just...I guess...he's been over there about

twelve years, and that...this was all going on when he...

I: You have been over there yourself?
I
S: I have been...I seen that.


43




i










SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





I: Uh huh. Well, when you see the Choctaw today, you think about your own

childhood?

S: I...I...just have to...I said, you know...uh...when I first visit with

them, and we had our first Bible school. It was in a house...that I had

to just know...that I could feel what they are living...because it was

just so much like the ones that I was raised in. Had no beds...and the

wood stove...and everything smoked up...and just uh...it was just like

in my day.

I: And you were wondering why the people here were able to change all that,

and they haven't over there...

S: Well, as I said, I don't know...except I...to me...I...that's why the

men over...often times...well, a lot of the others too...we think that

uh...even though we were glad for the money...we're...we are more proud

of...for that...because I think that's a lot that really...give us a

chance of living.

I: Good.

S: And that's why that I feel that even with the colored people...I know

they're doing things that they shouldn't do, and I know that they're taking

advantages more than they ought to. I have to think that uh...with us...as

I said...when we...we would fight to get to thesixth grade...because we

knew that was as far as we could go. That was the end of our education.

And it caused us not to...have any more...well, we didn't care...because

we knew that there wasn't any use...and that's how I compared to colored

people. They think...why maybe they can get so far...what's the use in

44








SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES






S: trying to go any farther. And I know that they've taken more privilege,

but I have to feel for them as I have...uh...knowing what we had gone

through. And I think that's how it was with our living. We knew that we

couldn't get anywhere...so what was the use of working until now we've

got the priviledge that we feel that we can do what other people can.

It makes a big difference.

I: Do you feel like...I think I understand that you said that you feel

like uh...the Indian land money thing was important in this change?

S: I think it was...I think it was more important there than really the money

was. I mean I know that the money was something that people looked

forward to, and you find there was a lot of lot of Indians when it come

to the money...that wasn't Indians before because they had the chance
h ;.~_ LI1- .- --r
for being something different...and we didn't.

I: Um huh...um huh.

S: And to me, I think it just give us privilege of being...uh...what we

would like to be...or what we want to be...rather than feeling...well,

what's the use, we can't go any _frbar.

I: How did that land money issue create that kind of atmosphere do you

think?

S: Well, as I said...I think after Calvin....was appointed chief, and we

just got behind him.

I: Um huh.

S: And as I said...a lot in politics...a lot in...and after he went into his

office and learned...now this is me saying...because I feel that I can

see it...and I believe it...and I know I have talked with several people

45








SUBJECT.: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: ...in fact it would...being as it's not unusual for me to talk...I guess

that you could tell the way I talk of itl repeated it more than one time.

I: Well, I'm interested in your view on that.

S: But uh...to me...I think that uh...it just give him a opportunity to be

in places that he wouldn't have never been...if it hadn't been that he

was appointed chief. That he would have never been like...meeting with

the President, and speaking some of the things...and I'll have to say,

that I' so glad that Calvin was a person...he really could speak. And

I...if you ever talked to him...you knew that. That he could speak,

and he...he learned a lot through the uh...lawsuits as I said...and...and

meeting yith people, and hearing them talk. He picked up the words, and

also the meaning...that helped him a lot to...to get where he was, and

to help his people. And one thing that I feel like was a lot of help, he

wanted to. You know that makes a big difference...as whether we want to.

And I believe that I can say...that he wanted to...and it helped a lot.

And as I said with the politics...they knew that he had an influence

over his people...that if he told them...now let's all vote this-a-way,

they did because they confidented him, and they knew him, and they knew

that he liked them...he knew...that he was for them, and it give him a

chance to prove himself as well as because they know that they would get

help from him. You all done now?

I: One more thing that I can think of...maybe you'll think of something I

wanted to ask you to do for me...if you could...now that the money has

finally come...if you could...well, we already talked about this before


46









SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





I: ...I turned on the machine...talk about what it was like when the money

got here last month.

S: Well, about these telephone calls...and they had just mailed out?

I: Yes.

S: Uh...that morning...uh...I bet somebody had got theirs down in Nocomos

I believe it was, and they had called to let Joyce know that they had

got it that morning. I guess the mail was earlier down that way than it

was through this area out in here. So they called to let Joyce know that

they had got their check, and then Iree called me as soon as they had
II
called out there for her she called me, and said.. .Momma, watch the mail,

the Indian money is on the way this morning...so naturally...the, uh...my

son was in bed, and I said get up and watch the mail...the Indian money

is on the way. So he got up, and here...when the mail come by she blowed,
I: -.
the mail lady blowed, and sure enough, there was just a stack of checks.

There was so many checks that morning in the mail. Then I...naturally I

called in up to Elsie's house because-the mail come here before it got

to their house. And I called her and told her about it...then she called

back...she said...you know there's about thirty-five of them put out here,

and this made a pile. So the telephone was a ringing all down there...tellin'

about the...the uh...checks coming in.

I: Un huh.

S: But uh...it was really something...how uh...at Christmas time...there were

so many that you would meet in town...they were just spending, you know,

and it was really something to think of.

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SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





I: Uh huh.

S: And that was the...that was a...uh...when you'd meet somebody in a store,

that was the first thing to say;..are you spending your Indian money

And naturally the banks, and the stores too, you know, had done got

that they...uh...knew that they had got in, you know.

I: Do you think that most people spent their Indian money wisely...when they

finally got it?

S: The ones in this community...I feel they did.

I: Uh huh.

S: Because most everyone of us...uh...in our conversations with each other,

most everyone of us just took ours right on and put it in savings, in the

bank.

I: Uh huh.

S: And I know that was wise to do because it makes you really...uh...in

checking accounts you may just write a check, but in savings you really

take your time.

I: That's right.

S: And I...with this community...I believe the biggest majority of our people,

even for their children's checks...I know.

I: Uh huh.

S: But now in the other communities...I really don't know. Here, as I said,

about the conversations with them...when you'd meet them in the store...

most everyone that...uh...would say...well...they were glad that they had

got them...because they could buy them presents...and they...they...where

48









SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: ...they wasn't able to buy presents, they could get presents. Well now

to me...I felt that that was good, but at Christmas time, with me, for

buying Christmas presents...I Ise lay away a-let...because you put it

up, and you'll be a little bit of while until you get it out. And with

Christmas...I usually start early...with buying my Christmas presents.

And of course I had the most of mine bought before the money got here.

And so I told them, well I couldn't say that I bought presents with mine

because I had been bought...I...that was how I had to do...was to buy

them as I found them, and things of that sort. So it took me a good while,

and I really had most of mine bought before I got it. And I think a lot

of us in this community had done that too. Because usually what one does

around here...the others...as I...that's...that's why I think we live as

a family as much as a community.

I: Um huh. Now you say that some places there were thirty-five checks in

one mailbox...now why would they bring so many to one place?

S: Well...now like Elsie, and her son...well all of those that live on this

road through here...get their mail at that one box.

I: Oh...T see...so it was a lot of different families with the same mail-

box.

S: And that's how it is here. There's my family, and then there's uh...the

children get theirs to my box...and one that's away from home.

I: Well, you know I've heard so many people...uh...talk...now I've been

working for about a year here of-and on...heard so many people talk about

the Indian money, and some sound...sounded discouraged...like it would

49









SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES




11 It
I: ...never come, and others said...I believe someday maybe we will get it.

Now the money has finally come...what effect do you think that's had on

people generally in their interest, in let's say)continuing with things

like the Thanksgiving Homecoming Pow Wow and those sorts of things?

S: Well...to me uh...I hardly know how to answer that right now.

I: Um huh.

S: Because we have wonderful times...you said it the Thanksgiving before,

and there was a lot of interest.And of course that was the first...uh...

notice that they had got...uh that the Indian money would be coming,

you know, soon.
I- - -~r '-T-
I: Um huh.

S: But now I have tried, and I hope that in your visiting, if you feel that

it's a good suggestion...I'll have you to think it over, and...and uh...

if you feel that it's...itis uh...god to do...maybe you could share the

interest if you'd meet and set and talk with the different ones. I

would like...they say that we'll get another one, in the spring, and of

course...now this is...and my father and I have tried to share with

different ones...I feel that uh...if we got another one in the spring,
SII I I II
that we should set a Thanksgiving aside...as an Indian Thanksgiving.

I: Um huh.

S: And...and celebrate that day, and naturally I think that we would have

better weather, and I think that we would say that this would be more
It it
of an Indian Thanksgiving. And I've talked..I...I've...I've asked the

council if they'll bring it up in their meeting...and if they'll maybe

50









SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: ...appoint a day...uh...we couldn't very well do it...not on the date

that these was got...because it's so close to Christmas.

I: Um huh. Um huh.

S: But I feel that if they would do that...that that would re...be something

that would really mean more...or be more uh...as a date set aside as an

Indian Thanksgiving day-..really than Thanksgiving.

I: Um huh.

S: Now that's actually, as I said, my feelings...but I've thought of it so

many times.

I: I never thought about that, but that sounds like an interesting idea.

Um huh. Well, in other words...

S: And it should stir the interest even more if they would do it.

I: Do you think that there might be some people...that now that they've

gotten their Indian money...they just want to forget about being Indians?

S: Well, as I said...I...I don't think that we'll ever forget of being an
sc-.-:.-- -- ....- -.: -;- -. -. j. I-
Indian. As I told them before I got mine, I said, you know...I know I'm

an Indian, and of course there have been a lot of people as I...like I

told you in the beginning here...that had gotten to the place that they

could get out of it...and they did.

I: Um huh.

S: And naturally they never thought of it any more 'til their money come

by. Then they picked it up. Now with them...if it would be anybody, I

believe it would be those kind of people.

I: Um huh. Do you think that in any way...uh...actually getting the money


51








SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





I: ...is going to give the people a new sense of hope or anything?

S: I believe it will...unless in years...as the years come that uh, as I

said, maybe they may get away from the thought if they don't be any

more payed or maybe get away from their thought. I...I'm hoping...that

it won't be put back. I'm hoping that it'll give them a start to stay

where-they are, and keep climbing...rather than setting them back in

what I were in. Of course I don't believe with the education that people

are getting now a days...I don't believe they'll be able to do that. I

hope that it would never be.

I: Now...like your children...they didn't experience the things that you

did...well, how do they feel about Indian things, and being Indians...your

children?

S: They think it's the wonderfulest thing that ever was...in these dances,

they want to go on...they just love being Indian. They just...they don't

take it...I mean they...Indians now...is something to be thought of as

something really...now they look at them, and you know there's so

many little boys that really want to be Indians. They want to be Indians!

I: Uh huh.

S: And of course there's a...to me the association of children, as I said

about the young generation...they...they don't...they don't think of it.

That...that's forgotten because they're intermarrying so much...to them,

it's just nothing. And I said...the older people no doubt will hold to

their feelings that they...what you are taught is what you don't forget.

And as I...I think that's how the older people have held on to it...is

from the teaching of their parents.

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SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN-

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES






I: And what...the little Indian children are being taught now is a lot

different from...?

S: And I'll tell you this integrating has made them feel that well...you know,

Snow it's not going to be integrating marrying with uh...Indians...it's

Just going to be marrying with who you meet, or who you want to inte...or

intermarry to.

I: Um huh...how do you feel about that from the standpoint of...of a...now

you've always....you said this...you put it that this is not so much a

community...but a family. What effect on that is there going to be by

the-younger people marrying outside of the Indian group...and into the

S: white and so forth...is that going to change- that in any way do you think?

S: Well now...up until now...uh...Mr. Paredes...these...the Ind...the white

girls have joined in to the family of the Indians, 0- than taking our boys

but. Now how long that will last...I don't know. But now...I know with

-the boys...well, now my boys have married...uh...I have two that married,

and then my daughter...now of course all didn't do it...they're both

Indians, but uh...they have married into white families, but it had

brought them...to me...into our family other than going out of the family.

Now as...I don't know how long this will happen, you know, with this

community.

I: Now what about if an Indian girl marries a white boy...what happens in

that situation..

S: They usually...they...that's the same way. Usually...I guess that I could

say not...not for boasting, or not for uh...feeling that we have something

53









SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: ...that other people don't have...but to me, somehow, Indians have been,

that once that you're with them...it's hard to ever want to leave them.

I: Um huh.

S: And that's...that is how it's happened in the past years.

I: Un huh.

S: So it...it hasn't really been hard for either side...the girls or the

boys.

I: So you think that...Indian girls are just as apt to bring their white

husbands into the family as the Indian boys bring their white wives

into the family. So you guess...I guess...uh...in a way...are you

saying that you think there'll always be Indians or not?

S: I believe...I...I believe that that's one thing that uh...uh...well,

'til now...I mean uh...it...us...they marry Indian boys, but now in some

cases maybe it is different...maybe they are looked down...but maybe they

don't like to. But in uh...I feel now with my two boys...I don't feel

that their family...now I've had uh...their in-laws to say to me...that

they love my children better than they do their other in-laws. Now I

don't know whether they say it to me...but then I can also look back,

and see that they treat them better. So it does give me a feeling to feel,

well I guess they are something about an Indian that...that uh...maybe

it's...And I don't say that they are all alike either. And I don't say

that...uh...it don't leave family problems cause I think that goes in

every family. But I know that most everyone...of course now my older

boy...he married into an Indian family, but then her...uh...his mother


54

i- -












SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

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II
S: ...in-law has said to me...uh...Shirley is so different from our other

son-in-laws...I just love him to death. So I don't know whether the boys

are a d-families, or whether -, but I...it 44 4.

I: Her other son-in-laws are not Indian?-: ....

S: No6..they're not Indian.-

I: Uh huh. .-

S: -But uh...uh...she said that to me so many times...she said, you know'I...

she's even thought, you know, well maybe it's because Shirley is an

Indian,-but she said, you know I just love him to death...it's just

I: something about him that I don't have for the others. One I have

5: right down the road here...my uh...Well, Mary and Doug the white uh...

-family. And she's always saying...why he's so different...I love their

children better than I do my other grandchildren. And they show they're

Indian.

I: Uh huh.

S: So all in all I...I don't know how to take that...I just wouldn't know

how on.Earth ---------- to anything. It does make the mother feel

proud to know somebody cares for her children though.

I: I'm going to end this by teasing you a little bit...uh...I remember

when I ran into you Thanksgiving...you had on an Indian dress, and I

said someJying about it, and you said that Ollivette made you wear it,

and you said I don't have to wear this to prove I'm an Indian...now why

did you say that to her?

55
r










SUBJECT: WILLIE LEE MARTIN

INTERVIEWER: PAREDES





S: Well...I feel that hu...we've always been Indians here. Everybody that

0ow^Zw ...they know I'm an Indian Of course I've always been one, and

I...I don't know...I just never have tried to change it, you know. As

I said...uh...some people have a chance to step out...go into the white

group, and just deny they're Indian. I've known that to be. And I've been

here all my life...I've been treated as one...I was down when they were

down...when they got up...I got up. And I...I guess that was what I

really meant...and then I think too...I look like an Indian. I just

think I look like an Indian. I don't have to put to much on to look like

one because I...I'm just one.

I: O.k. anything else you want to add?

S: No...I don't think...I guess I've said about all I could. I could just

talk and talk....








END OF INTERVIEW
















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