Title: Dr. Ottis James
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00008040/00001
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Title: Dr. Ottis James
Series Title: Dr. Ottis James
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SEM 174A

Subject: Dr. Ottis James

Interviewer: Tom King

Okeechobee, Florida

March 18, 1978
-T: Dr. ^c^-^
K- (--- '<- -K .
K: The following is an interview with Dr. Ottis James, a dentist

in Okeechobee, Florida. It was conducted on the eighteenth of

March, 1978 in Dr. James' office in Okeechobee. Dr. James, would

you have any objections to this interview being put in the

University of Florida library and being made available to the pub-

lic then for whatever use they would want to make of it? We do

have a lot of teachers and students who are interested in Seminole

Indians and come to our files occasionally to look things up,

andAyou don't have any objections, we would make this interview

available to them.

J: Oh, no.

K: AlIight, thank you. When were you born?
J: September 27, 1905.

K: And where?

J: Marion, Louisiana.

K: Can you tell me the names of your mother and father?

J: Well, my mother was named, she's still living, 92 years old. Her

name is Florence James. My father is dead, since 1923. His name

was Henry James. I have one sister. My mother and sister now

live in Lakeland, Florida.

K: When did you first come to Okeechobee?

J: November, 1960.

SEM 174A

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K: And why did you come here?

J: Well, I was retired from the military service the first of

December and I came here at the request of the Florida State

Dental Board; because at that time there was not a dentist in


K: When you first came to Okeechobee, what were Indian-white re-

lations like in the town of Okeechobee? Did they get along


J: Oh, yes, as far as I could tell, they got along real good. The

children went to school here in all the grades. The boys were

good athletes, played football and they were, everybody liked

them, apparently, as far as I know. I had no complaints from

that at all.

K: Uh huh. Can you remember the fist Seminole you treated? Do you

remember when it would have been?

G: I think it was Gobee MI4eafe.

J: Well, I can't remember the very first one, but one in particular

the first one, an elderly lady, what was her first name?

G: Gobee.

J: Gobee Mico.

K: Uh huh. And she was from the Brighton reservation?

J: Yeah. She had a very bad mouth and had pyrrhea in her gums and.

her teeth were loose, and we extracted all of them and made

her some dentures.

SEM 174A

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G: Well, there's a funny story about this.

K: Why don't you tell me the story then?

J: No.

K: No? O.K. About what year would that have been?

J: 1961, the beginning of 1961.

K: And who brought her in? Did she come of her own volition?

J: They had an office out there that the doctor went to, and they

had kind of a health clinic, and they sent all their people here

from there.

K: And where were they getting dental care before that?

J: Well, from anybody, I guess, of their own choice, as far as I

know. I didn't ever go into that.

K: Do you know who paid for the Seminoles' dental care?

J: Yeah, I don't know whether they had a finance office in Atlanta

at that time. I don't know where it came from, the Bureau of

Indian Affairs of just the Public Health, actually the U.S. Public

Health Service/ J still do.

K: So that arrangement has continued over since then?

J: Yeah.

G: Up to eighteen.

K: Oh, up to eighteen years of age, is that it?

J: Well, they did at that time. They paid for the, some-of the elderly-

people, emergencies. But they wouldn't pay for dentures and things

like that for them. But they would pay for anything from children

SEM 174A

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up to eighteen years old.

K: Did all of the Indians come in?

J: No, I wouldn't say all of them. I never did know what percen-

tage of them, I never could find out exactly how many people

lived out there, at Brighton. There were some of them that lived

off the reservation, and I don't know what their relation was to

the tribe or what their, what do I want to say, how much influence

the tribe had over them. Some-of them were married to white,

white people, some different ones. And they all came.

K: I'd like you to make some generalizations then, concerning age

and sex and so on. Would younger Seminoles be more likely to

come, or would-

J: No, the older ones, they were very anxious to get their teeth fixed,

because they'd been, I guess neglected from, I don't know whether

it was their fault, or whose fault it was4M whether they were not

educated to it. But they were not, they didn't take such good

care of their teeth, the older ones didn't. And they were anxious

to have dentures made, and bridges and things like that, which

many of them did, very extensive work. And they, a lot of them

would pay for it themselves, you know.

K: Do you know whether it was more common for women to come in, or

for men to come in, or was there any difference?

J: Well, there was no difference. Men and women, they both; we worked

on the whole families of a lot of them.

K: What was the most common dental problem that you had to treat?


SEM 174A

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J: Well, just like in any other branch of society, we had a lot

of peridontaclasia, pyrrhea and a lot of tooth decay, a lot of

injuries, they get hurt, and get their teeth knocked loose and

there was no differences I could see in them and the regular white

population as far as the causes of dental defects.

K: So they were relatively the same, then, you would think.

J: Relatively the same.

K: To what do you think most of these dental problems could be at-


J: Well, that's hard to say. We don't even know what causes a lot

of them in white people. And I thought that their diet was not

too well supervised for good dental growth. They were prone to,

as far as I could tell, drinking a lot of soda water, soda pop,

and eating candies and sweet things which they had no idea that

might contribute to dental caries. But to talk to most of them,

I could not tell whether I got the message over to them or not,

you know. I'd try to instruct them in proper food and things,

but they, you couldn't tell whether they were receptive to that

kind of instruction or not.

K: You've treated a lot of the white population in Okeechobee, as

well as the Indians, haven't you?

J: Millions of them.

K: Do you think that non-Indians have dental-problems that are as-

extreme as the Indians? Do you have any judgement that you could

SEM 174A

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pass on that?

J: Yeah, I would think that there's not much difference in this


K: And what about in other areas where you practiced dentistry?

J: Well, I didn't have any Indians in any other area.

K: Well, true. But I mean, you can measure the-

J: When I came here, the people that appreciated dental work that

took very good care of their teeth, but there were a lot of peo-

ple, I don't know whether it was financial problems or what, but

didn't seem to care much. They were resigned to having their

teeth pulled and dentures made. And they didn't care a lot for

other things. That, in that respect, I think they've changed

a lot. It seemed like in the last few years, I guess it's publicity

from television and schools and things, and it seemed like people

take better care of their teeth than they used to.

K: Now you are, as I understand it, you are contracted to care for


J: I was, yeah.

K: Could you tell me the details to that? How you were hired to-?

J: Well, we did the work, and submitted a detailed bill for the

work for during that month, and it was sent to Atlanta, and then

we were paid from that. And later that was, that activity was

transferred to Oklahoma City. And they changed the method a little

bit. And finally it was changed to go through the Seminole

headquarters in Dania or Hollywood, I don't know exactly, that's

SEM 174A

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right they're together now, Hollywood, Florida.

K: Do you know if there are contract dentists for the other reserva-

tions as well?

J: Well, I don't know, except for the Brighton reservation, I mean

the Big Cypress reservation. What's that old doctor down there?

G: Dr. Jasper..

J: Dr. Randolph.

G: Yeah, and Jasper works '

J: Well, now, in the office in Hollywood, they have a health clinic

there,and they have their own dentist there, Dr. Jasper.

K: He's hired by the Seminole tribe?

J: He's hired by the tribe.

K: Do you know how long he's been there?

J: Oh, four or five years.

G: Six, six seven years.

J: Six or seven years, I would think.

K: Now, did the Indians from all of the reservations go to see him?

G: Not all of them.

J: Not all of them, no. At one time, instead of me doing it, they'd

haul their children down there, all the way to Hollywood. And

that got so out of hand, that I was doing it again.

G: And then there was a dental truck coming out there, the dental bus.

J: Dental truck came for a while, but-

G: To the reservations.

J: I would never know when it was there or what. But he'd get them

SEM 174A

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all :.stirred up for two or three months and then he'd leave,

and then I would get, catch it then.

K: I wanted to ask you about that dental truck next. It's probably

the Cuban dentist that I was talking about before.

J: No, no, I don't think so. I think it was a licensed den-, I don't

know who he was, even.

G: He was an American boy.

K: And was he hired by the tribe?

J: Yeah, hired by tribe, but I guess he was paid through/ublic alth

funds, I don't know, probably the same as we were.

G: I don't think you could call it hired by the tribe. I think they

were, they were hired by the government to look after the In-


J: Well, the tribe had to do with getting them, so Joe Dan said.

K: Do you know about when that would have been, what year?

J: Oh, the year 1969 ol 70, along in there sometime.

K: Do you have any idea why he quit doing that?

J: No, they never told me.

G: I think that's when, when Dr. Jasper started the clinic down in

Hollywood, that they asked the Indians then, to come down there

and bring the children.

K: It's my understanding that in the early 1960 s, there was one or

perhaps two, Cuban expatriate-dentists who were hired by the tribe--

to take care of the dental problems of the-

J: I never knew that.

SEM 174A

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K: You never heard of that. O.K.

J: Wonder where they operated in, Miami?

K: I don't know. I've been told by some Indians that this was done.

They don't know the details to it. They told me that the, as we

talked about earlier, they told me that they were not allowed to

practice, because the state dental board decided that since they

hadn't American license, that they ought not to be allowed to work

on Indian's teeth. So the government then stepped in and denied

them the right to go out to the reservation.

J: I know that during those years they would take those Cuban boys

in-the penal institutions like the one at Belle Glade, and the one

out here, the Boys' School they call it, and several other places.

They let them work without a license, but then after they worked

a year, they could take the board. And if they passed, then- they

could go out and practice where ver they wanted to.

K: But you don't know about them having done that to the Indians, though.

J: Well, the ones that, far as I know, I never knew about it, I never

heard about it. Nobody ever told me that.

K: Would you say that there's been a noticeable improvement in IndAn

dental health since you came to Okeechobee?

J: Yeah, I think so.

K: And to what would you attribute that?

G: Well, first of all the--

J: Well, better education, I would think. They, they have better

people out there at the health center to look after them, I think,

SEM 174A

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and the schools stress it when they go to school, and I think that

contributes quite a bit.

G: I think the day care center has a lot to do with it, too, where

they bring their little ones, pre-school childrenjand they buy

them toothbrushes. They're shown the proper hygiene, dental hy-

giene. And the kids stay there all day long, and they feed them

what they're supposed to eat. No soda pops, no candy, no nothing.

And there was a tremendous improvement from the time they got here,

until when you see, well, now, you know, now you see one has may-

be two or three cavities. Before they had eighteen teeth, and

they had eighteen cavities, you know. But this has improved tre-

mendously and I do believe that the day care center, they're doing

a tremendous job out there. They're really good.

K: That's good. Dr. James, have you ever been, either of you, have

you ever been involved in some sort of preventive health care pro-


J: Preventive? No.

K: Yeah, have you gone out to-

J: No, nothing except '-here in our own office. We don't go out and

talk about it.

K: Do you know if the Indian Health Service or the BIA ever initiated

any sort of a program?

G: Yes, they have-- -

J: In there, just in those, like you said, in the day care centers

and things like that.

SEaI 174A

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K: But nothing else.

G: They bring them in, or used to bring them in for screening, what

they called it. And Dr. James would examine them, clean their

teeth and give them a flouride treatment,. and I think that had

a lot to do with it. But, you know, it works for a year or two,

and then it slows down, and it's just I .

J: Then they run out of funds.

G: Yeah.

J: And then you have to wait till the funds are available again, and

that was kind of bad, you know.

K: You said that you had been a contract dentist, but you indicated

that you no longer are the contract dentist.

J: No, they've changed it, they've changed that, it's just on what

they send me as a paper, you know. And we fill it out just like

an insurance form, fill it out, and it's sent to Hollywood and then

they pay the bill.

K: Yeah, O.K. Have they-

J: I never was on a contract for a specified sum. It was just con-

tracted to take care of, what you call it, dental contractor. That's

the way we always carried it on an information sheet.
K: Have you known who the medicine keepers were, for the tribe, since.

you have been here?

J: Who, the medical doctors?

K: No, the medicine keepers of the tribe.


SEM 174A

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J: No.

K: No, the medicine keepers of the tribe. There is a thing called

the sacred medicine bundle that's-

J: No, I don't know. What was that old doctor who, what did they

call him, Dr. somebody, was he a medicine man?

G: Yeah, it wasn't Bowers?

J: Dr. Jones, or something?

G: Yeah, yeah.

J: Dr. Jones.

G: How, how about Billy Bow-legs, did he have anything to do with


J: Not, not as a medicine man. Billy Bowlegs was an old, old time

leader, I know you've heard of him. And he died, I guess by the

time that we came here.

G: No, no, I've seen him in town. He died maybe, 1965, something

like that. '64.

K: Yeah.

G: But I've seen him.

K: But you wouldn't know, then, whether any of the medicine men, or

keepers of the medicine bundles had ever come to you for treatment?

J: No, I wouldn't, they never were pointed out to me.

K: Do you know Frank Shore?

J:/ Yeah.

G: Yeah.

K: Has he ever been to you for treatment?

SEM 174A

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J: I think so, yeah. Didn't he?

G: yes, right.

K: --- yeah. He is the medicine keeper.

G: Oh, he is?

K: Yeah, and has been since-

G: Yeah, he's been here.

J: Yeah.

K: He is the, probably the most prominent man on the Seminole re-

servation, although many white people aren't aware of that, Be-

cause it's not the sort of thing that the whites are-

G: Well, they're awfully nice people, the Shores.

J: We were very fond of all of them. They got to be friendly with

us, and beru my wife an Indian skirt.

G: Skirts and blouses, you know.

J: They come to our house and Gisa, my older daughter went to school

with Nellie Smith and-

G: Andy Bowers.

J: And Andy Bowers, and all that bunch and they used to be at our

house as much as they were anywhere.

G: You know, when, when we had the Indians, we had the best football

team around. We beat everybody here, you know, in our class. So

one year, all the Indians were moved to MoNbehaven, and we had

several boys that we really liked. They could not play here,

because the school was moved, oh, well, they had to go to school

in Morehaven, so Andy Bowers moved in with the Attaways, Jim At-

SEM 174A

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taway, they had a boy the same age as Andy. And he lived with them

and he stayed with them, and just like it was their own boy.

J: He even went to college, I think he's some kind of official out

there now.

G: Right, and so, just so Andy could play on our team, you know,

and well, they're just terrific kids. I'm just crazy about

them. They're real nice.

K: Earlier, Dr. James, you told me before we turned on the tape

recorder, that the Indians had not stayed at Okeechobee High

School, they had had to go to Moorehaven. Can you repeat that

for us, why they had to go to Moorehaven?

J: I don't know what year that was, but they, Brighton reservation

is in Glades county.

G: It was 1964, honey.

J: Was that it?

G: Right.

J: All right. There was, the fund, the federal funds, there were

state funds allotted to each county on the student population they

sustained. And the people in Glades county requested that they

be sent to the school in Moorehaven so they could have thleir 7L/Af


G: Well, the distance between Brighton and Moorehaven was also shorter

than from from Brighton to Okeechobee.

J: I think it's about the same distance between them.

G: Well, I don't know.

SEM 174A

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J: Well, they send them on buses now, they have a primary school at

Brighton for the little ones, and then they send them to Moorehaven

now for elementary and high school, and none of them come here,

except maybe one or two individuals that live in this county and

are not on the reservation. They can go where they want to.

K: Do you know, during the time that you've been here, if there have

been any Seminole Indians who have been treating other Indians

for any dental problems that they might have?

J: Where the Indians have treated each other?

K: Yeah, are there anybody, right.

J: Not that I know of, but I'm, it could be.

K: Yeah.

J: I never knew of it.

K: You've never heard of any special preparations or anything, then,

any folk medicine, that sort of thing.

J: No. I don't know whether medicine men have any treatment for

dental problems or not; I never heard of it.

G: Well, you know, we have never seen any like we see some of our

patients with burned gums, you know they put aspirins on it, or

something like, for days at a time. But I've never seen an In-

dian do that.

K: No, they probably don't have anything like that.

G: They have a toothache, and they come and tell you, if it is eleven

o'clock at night, they let you know, and they're here.

K: Are they reluctant to have anything done to them while you're,

SEM 174A

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while they're here, or do-

J: No, no. Most of them are very good patients.

G: See, we have a wonderful relationship between them. You know, I'm

from Germany-

J: Of course some of the little ones are apprehensive just like any-

body else. But we've had very good luck with them.

G: If they would just realize-

K: Have any of them come to you for any sort of cosmetic dentistry,

for instance, inlaying?

J: Oh yeah.

K: Can you describe some of that to me please?

J: They, they like gold crowns on their teeth, and in their dentures,

when you make them a denteue, they like to have two or three gold

caps put on their dentures.

K: Now, does the government pay for that?

G: No.

J: No. They pay for that.

K: What about braces? Has there been any orthodox al work done?

J: That's never been authorized in this, in my experience. It may be

in Hollywood, I don't know, but not here.

K: Have there been many children brought in whom you thought should

have braces on their teeth?

J: Not so many. -I don't think that their orthodontia problems were-

as numerous as in our people. They seem, most of them seem to

have pretty straight teeth.

SEM 174A

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K: Now you've looked into an awful lot of Seminole mouths-

J: Oh yeah.

K: ....and you can probably tell me whether or not they smoke as

much as the non-Indian population does.

J: Whether they smoke?

K: Yeah, do they smoke.

J: Well, I don't know. Not around the office here.

K: No, I was thinking about tobacco stains on the teeth, and so

on. Is there any way you can judge whether or not they-

G: They chewed tobacco, some of them.

J: Some of them probably chewed tobacco a little bit, But that didn't

make stains on them.

K: So you don't think they smoke as much as whites, then. Or as other
J: I don't believe they do, I don't, I'm not certain about that, to

tell you the truth.

G: No, I've never seen, I've never seen an Indian-

J: I've never seen an Indian woman smoke in here, but I'm sure they

do on the reservation.

K: Have you noticed any sort of dental problems at all that they may

have had that would be different from what you would expect to

find in a non-Indian population?

J: No, I don't, I have never seen anything that's any different from

other members of the population.

K: Could you make some sort of general projection for the future-what

you think Seminole health problems are going to be like?

SEM 174A

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Do you think that their health care is-

J: Well, I think that you're improving all over. Everywhere I read

about it, you know; out in the west on the reservations out there,

they're getting good care. And, of course, they're being isolated

in places that makes it hard for them to get in, and they're pro-

bably not as sensitive to dental care as they should be. But now,

automobile transportation like it is, why, I think they're just

about on an equal with the white people.

K: In all the years that you've been here, can you tell me who/the

most important Seminole people have been out on the reservation?

The ones with the most influence, the ones who are thought the.

most highly of by the whites here in town or by the Indians out


J: I thought the Osceolas and the Shores-

K: Would that be Billy Osceola's family that you're talking about?

J: There's two or three, there's two or three sets of Osceolas, they're

all cousins or related. Joe Dan's, I can't think what he's called.

G: I don't either.

J: But, what's that big fellow we made the crowns for? Do you re-

member his name?

G: Ah, he was a Jones.

J: No, I don't think so.

G: Gopher?

J: Gopher, they seem to be prominent. And, well, we worked on every

one of them, but I, you can't tell, you know, what their standing

SEM 174A

Page 19


in the community is. At one time, three or four years ago, they

got quite a bit of money extra, and they wanted all the older peo-

ple examined and taken care of, so we did a lot of dentures for

them and a lot of bridge work and things in one fell swoop, I

think. But that died out, didn't it, after-

G: Well, they only had about 25,000 d4iUa&s, and that was split up

between Brighton and then the Seminoles down in Hollywood, and

there was another tribe, I don't know what they call them...

J: Miccasoukees.

G: Yeah, the Miccasukees. And see, 'Ihe 25,000 .d61-ars was divided

between those three.

J: It was for dental care of one-

K: Do you know what year that was?

G: It was about three, three years ago, '75.

J: 72, '73.

K: Do you have any idea where the money came from?

G: It came from Oklahoma.

J: From public health.
K: Oh, Public Health are.

G: Indian Health Care.

K: Yeah. You don't know what act it was that would have provided that

money, or what the source may have been.

G: We were just told that there is money available, and they gave us

a list of names of the older people, and to examine please, give

an estimate of what they needed and then send the escne in,

SEM 174A

Page 20 dm

and that's what they did. And then they approve it down in

Hollywood. And when we get the approval back, we go ahead and

do the work.

K: Many of the Indians who have come to you have probably been un-

able to speak English, particularly the older ones. Did they

bring interpreters with them, or how do you communicate with


J: Yeah, there's not too many of them that don't understand English.

Some of the older, particularly women. Most of the men, they

could speak enough English. The older women, though, their

daughter, or somebody would come along with them.

K: Mrs. James, before we end this interview, I want to get your name

down here. You know, you weren't in the room when I began the

interview and I didn't put your name at the beginning of the tape,

so if you could just-

G: My name is Gerda, G-E-R-D-A.

K: G-E-R-D-A.

J: Gerda James.

K: O.K. And when this is typed up, your name will be on it, too, then.

G: So you know, I've, I've always, when I first came here from Ger-

many, I, I've never seen an Indian in my life. And of course to me,

there was a big day when I knew the first Indian would come in

here, you know. And they wore those long dresses, the long skirts,

and didn't speak English. That alone, to me, was something that

fascinated me, to live right here in the middle of America, and not

SEM 174A

Page 21


to speak English, you know, I couldn't believe it. And, but

for some reason, I got along just so wonderful with them, you

know, they look at you and smile, and you smile back. And you

pat them on the shoulder, and say,"Don't worry, you're going to

be all right." And I made a lot of friends with them, really.

I've got some beautiful skirts that they made for me, you know,

they handmade those tiny little pieces, they sew together, and

I'm very fond of them, and they brought me blankets, the real

Indian blankets, the hand-woven ones, I got about four or five.

And I got a beautiful z ml necklace, hand-made, squash

blossom with turquoise, you know, just great big one. And I

really treasure that one, and I think it's just....and Joe Dan,

he still, he brings the children, you know, and they go

swimming down at the house or, when he had the first baby-
ge, wY-d: -6 s 61-r -7f-O 0
J: One F of ii z b z wat- tie football player, you know, one who as

named, Jim Thorpe.

K: He was quite a football player himself, wasn't he?

J: Yeah, he was.

G: Oh yes. Oh, Joe Dan is, we are very fond of Joe Dan and his wife,

Linda, they're just real sweet people.

J: And the Gophers and-

G: When she had her first baby, she wouldn't go home, she brought it

to my house first, so I could see it. :And they're beautiful

children. They've got that beautiful black shiny hair, you.

know, and they're just, to me they're something special.

SEM 174A

Page 22 sjm

K: Well, I think we've about exhausted the topic of dental care.

Is there anything else you'd like to say?

J: During the Depression, the government acquired a lot of cattle

from Oklahoma, and different places where they were starving to

death from the drought, you don't remember that, when there was

the the dust bowl?

K: But I've read enough about it, I know, yeah.

J: And they, they gave them thousands of head of cattle at Brighton,

and they had, they had a big cattle business.

G: Yeah, they're real good farmers.

J: And they, course they work around, too, in day work, and different

things, everything.

G: I still like the drunk story about Gobee.

J: You ought not to record it, though.

K: You want me to turn the recorder off?

J: We'll wait on that story.

G: Well, she was, she was, she didn't speak English, and when she

came in, you know, the dentures of this type, I do believe they

were $280 a set. So when Dr. James saw we had to pull all her

teeth and ('/C/ ~o just smiled, you know, and my husband

says,"Honey, she's a poor old woman. Let's not charge her $280.

We'll make for her for $150." So that's what we did.-:

J: $160.

G: $160. Well, anyway, when we tried her dentures in, she hadn't


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paid me anything, and I looked at her, and said,"Gobee, next

time you get your dentures, you bring me some money," you know.

And she looked and grinned, and said,"Yes." So, she comes next

time and put her dentures and she just smile from one side to

the other. And when I come out here, she had a little black

satchel, about this long, this wide, and she unrolled it, and

believe it or not, she took stacks of money out, she.could have

paid for this whole dental office.

J: Fifty dollar bills, hundred bills. Gerda come back here and

said,"You know what? Gobee could have bought this whole dental

office." Well, it was all right.

G: But that was all right, but as you know, she was just a sweet

old lady, you know. But it just shows you, you know, the way

they come in, they all look the same. There, there is no dif-

ference in their appearance or what they wear, you know. They

don't ever talk money, you say,"This is how much it is," and

this is it. One thing, they don't owe you anything.

K: They always pay their debts.

G: Oh yes. They're very proud people.

J: And another thing, I think of the older people, the older ladies,

I think they understand more English than they will talk. You

can talk to them, and they seem to understand it, though they

may not say a word to you. And we were very fond of them. And

I never saw anybody here that treated them badly.

G: Oh no.

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J: There may be some people, some ignorant people that might look

down on them or something but I didn't ever run across any. And

they seem to get along good in school. They, other children like

them and played with them. As far as I could see, there was no

ill feelings-

G: Well, you know, like Nellie Smith, she went to school with our

oldest daughter and they're stationed in Holland right now. So

the other day she came in and she said,"Mrs. James, would you

please give me Gisa's address, I'd like to send-", it was before

Christmas,"I want to send her a Christmas card." So I did, and

they used to play po-det- 1' football.

J: The girls.

G: The girls. And I'll never forget, Nellie was so big and so strong,

and if Gisa couldn't make it all the way, GisalV's our daughter's

name, she would put her on her back and run the whole length of the

football field, you know. And it was just hilarious, you know, the

things they would do together. And there's quite a few that ask

for -etela. still. She made friends easily. Andy Bowers was just

like a brother. Everybody loved Andy and Nellie.

K: What was G&e1-es last name?

G: Mico.

K: Geee Mico. And her first name is spelled how? G-O-B-I?

G: Je, I spelled it- G-0O-B-Y.

K: G-O-B-Y.

G: Yeah. Many times, I just spell it the way it sounds,.you know,

SEM 174A

Page 25


because they will not tell you, well, they don't know how

to spell. So I just put it down like Goby, G-O-B-Y.

J: Did you live out there near by them for a year or two?

K: For a year, yeah, I lived right adjacent to the reservation.

I didn't know her. I didn't know Goby.

G: Maybe she's not alive anymore.-

K: Well, she could well be alive. There were many of them I didn't


J: Yeah, I think Goby's still alive. I haven't seen her in quite

a while.

G: Yeah, I haven't seen her.

K: See, there were several hundred living out there, and I never got

around to meeting all of them.

G: There's one girl out there, Martha Jones. I think she's one of

the most beautiful women I've ever seen.

J: A lot of them got jobs in Fort Pierce and l
and different things. There was one, a secretary up here for

Dr. Mills for a long time.

G: Yeah, I don't know what her name was.

K: Well, is there anything else that you can think of to tell me about

the Indians that you think ought to be recorded?

J: No, not that I can think of right now.

K: It doesn't have to have anything to with dentistry necessarily,

just anything that you can think of.

G: No, except that they're really easy to get along with. They're a

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very proud people, you know you, anytime you do something for

them, they want to pay their bills. They don't ever owe you any-


J: The tribe, as I understand it, they had a suit against the govern-

ment for recovery of monies for the land that, you probably know

more about that than I do, but as I understand it, one time the

government gave them a judgement for 12 million dollars, I be-

lieve. Now I don't know whether the tribe has ever acquired that-

K: They didn't accept that. That was in 1968, and they didn't accept


J: They didn't accept it.

K: No.

J: Is it still pending?

K: N6, the government has recently, last year, as a matter of fact,

settled for 16,and 1/2 million dollars, by the way.

J: 16 and 1/2?

K: This is for thirty-two million acres of land, 16 and 1/2 million


J: I wonder if any of the funds have been made-

K: They have not.

J: Have been made available. I was always interested in that, cause

I didn't know whether they were going to get it or not.

K: To this point they haven't gotten a penny of it. -

J: Well, I hope they do.

K: I do, too.

SEX 174A

Page 27 sjM

J: Cause that will make them feel better, I think and I don't know

what's going to be the outcome, whether's they're always going

to live on the reservation or whether, eventually drift around

into everything or not, I don't know what their relation is to

other tribes, like the Navahoes and those people out.there.

G: Well, you know, Joe Dan, he travels a lot out to Arizona and

I think that's some of the blankets he brought me, the Indian

blankets, they come f9' Arizona, or the Sunis, you know. They

do beautiful work.

J: Now, the Miccasukees, I don't know, they don't seem to be as

friendly with the Seminoles as I would think, so I don't know

what their relation is.

K: They don't get along.

J: Have you been down in the Miccasukees?

K: Yes, I have. And I've talked to several of them, and they're not

very friendly toward the Seminole tribe.

J: I just wonder why.

G: It's funny, you know.

J: They're differentVthnic origin or what.

K: Well, I can tell you a little bit about it, but I don't want to

keep talking 'into this, because after all, we're interviewing

you and not me. But if you can't think of anything else to add

to this, I'll just-

J: No, I can't think of anything.

K: Well, thank both of you very, very mush. This will be of some

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importance to us.

J: I'll look forward to the time when they will be able to employ a

dentist probably, to stay out on the reservation, or have a office

out there.

K: You have an office?

J: No, I said I look forward, I imagine if they ever get this money

they probably will, maybe just in Hollywood there, cause that's

the main headquarters, I guess. They have Dr. Jasper, and I don't

know who else, and down there he will contract, if he can't do

something, he's got funds to send them out in town to a specialist.

K: There's one other thing I wanted to ask you. Do you know whether

or not their water is fluorinated or chlorinated?

J: I don't know.

G: I don't think so, because Okeechobee isn't.

J: Well, they may be out there, I don't know.

K: They have their own system out there. They have a water tower of

their own.

J: I imagine it is, to tell you the truth, if the government has any-

thing to do with it. They'll provide it for them. Okeechobee

won't provide it because of the money, I guess. These cowboys

around here, they won't furnish the money for it. And consequent-

ly people buy at the grocery store most of their drinking water

up there, because Okeechobee drinking water doesn't taste very


G: It tastes like the lake, like old fish, you know? Sometimes you

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can take a bath and you smell like fish.

J: Say like rotten leaves or something.

G: Mucky, you know, and mossy. I can't stand it.

J: Okeechobee's growing so fast, though, I don't know what's going

to be there.

K: I hardly recognize it.

G: Are you from around here?

K: No, but I did spend a year on the Indian prairie right over there

over the Harney Pond Canal, you know, and I used to come into

Okeechobee frequently, and it's changed very much.

G: Well, you know, since we've been here, -

J: Well, do you know, in that canal you're talking about, the man

disappeared in his airplane coming home from Clewiston, that was

before Christmas, and they couldn't find him. They looked for

him for weeks and weeks and weeks, and they finally found his plane

in this canal. There was a storm came, and he evidently, I don't

know whether he tried to land on the water or not, but, about

thirty feet deep in that canal, when you mentioned that name.

K: Well, thanks very much for the interview.

J: I wish I could give you more, but that's about all the experiences

I've had with them.

K: You've been of great help. This is valuable information that we

couldn't have gotten anywhere else.

J: We, just like I told you a while ago, we're very fond of them,

and we have good friends among them, and we hope we'll continue

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that way. I've never seen, haven't heard of anybody discrimi-

nating against them in any way. You see them in all the stores

and every place.

G: Especially in the school.

J: In the school.

G: You know they have trouble between blacks and whites. But they'll

never have trouble between Indians and whites. That's funny, you


K: Uh huh.

G: They just, there was never any one incident, that the Indians and

the whites would fight.

K: Now that is remarkable, because I've heard of trouble at other


G: Not here.

K: But not here.

J: Not that I know of. I never heard of any.

G: No, we only came here in 1960, you know, maybe before then. But

since we're here, we've had children in these school systems since

1961, and we still got two more now, you know, that, I've never

heard of it.

K: O.K., well thank you for the interview.

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