Vivian Crooks, Director of the Learning Resource Center, Big Cypress Reservation
Vivian Crooks presents a fair amount of information about the learning resources center at Big
Cypress and about educational advisement there more generally. Her experiences with Seminole
Indians dates from her childhood, when she lived near Hollywood. She attended schools with
Billy Cypress (of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum) and James Billie (e.g., p. 39). In her work and in
this interview, Crooks draws on this lifetime of experience with Seminole people.
A good portion of this interview deals with Crooks' family and family history. Important aspects
of the interview that relate to the Seminole project come from her work in education. She
expresses her opinions about the progress that the Ahfachkee school has made, assesses why
parents have different attitudes today than in the past toward education, and considers issues of
cultural education and Indian languages. In her role as an advisor she often deals with people
who are considering schooling off the reservation. She also is proud that the Seminole schooling
meets the Florida 2000 education goals (15). Crooks is able to put some attitudes towards
schooling into a context of histories of discrimination and cultural and experiential clashes (17).
To further vocational training, which she approves of ('if you can walk, you can learn,' 25), they
have at times brought in people from Florida's universities and community colleges (22). Crooks
has strong feelings that individual learning styles determine success and therefore create the need
to help individuals in their educational pursuits (20). She is enthusiastic about the support of the
Tribe, which pays for members' education, and about James Billie's interest in and insistence
upon it (22-24). She has also worked with James Billie on numerous other projects and has
strong opinions about his interest in improving the standard of living among tribal members.
Crooks reflects on a conversation with a Miccosukee elder to describe how some people fin that
education can bring some good--skills and learning the ways of the outside world, with the bad--
acculturation (30). Crooks is obviously attuned to this balance.
Interviewer is Rosalyn Howard
Interviewee is Vivian Crooks
H: I am speaking today with Vivian, who is the director of the Learning Resources
Center. We are at the Big Cypress Billy Swamp Safari guest house. Vivian, why
don't you tell me your full name.
C: It is Vivian Hazel Crooks.
H: Where and when were you born?
C: I was born on January 6, 1945, in Hollywood, Florida.
H: You were mentioning that, that was very near one of the reservations?
C: Yes, across the street. My mother says that it is at the corner of 441 and
Sheridan, and I think, maybe, she is mistaken because I think it is across the
street from where the Ford dealership is now. There was a camp there. I would
have to go back to the plat records. I probably could because my father owned
ten acres of land there. I am sure we could research it.
H: What was it like growing up next to that reservation?
C: As an early child, I do not remember, of course. I have vague memories. I was
three years old when we moved from that place. My father was a very
determined man to make it in life, very poor. My mother was very poor. They
were married; maybe she was sixteen, but I think, maybe, fifteen. They had
moved from Alabama to the Miami/Hollywood area. We had an uncle who had a
dairy, and he provided jobs for family members to come down because they were
starving. I mean, they were hungry. So my father came down. The families
knew each other in Alabama, but they migrated at different times. My mother
came down with her mother and four children. She was the oldest and had a
different father, so she was always the different one and was the care giver for
her brothers and sisters. They came to Florida on the back of a truck that
passed my grandmother's house. They had no food, and they had to get to
Florida. This man came by, and they had to leave all of their possessions. The
stepfather had moved to Florida and gotten a job, so they were excited about
that. At least someone was working. But she had to get herself and the children
there some way. As my mother says-and I sat through her interview as you are
doing mine, and if I get teary, would you please turn it off-[tape interrupted].
Okay. Back to when my mom came, my mom and dad were both born in
Alabama. At this moment, I do not recall all of the names. I think it was Mobile
and Alberta [Albertville? Abbeville?]. Anyhow, they migrated to Florida for jobs
because they were starving to death on the farms.
H: What year was this, approximately?
C: My mother was twelve or ten, and she is almost eighty. It was almost seventy
years ago. My father would have been eighty-eight [now], and he had a Model-T
and brought his mother with him. I don't know how he got the vehicle; I have no
idea. He dropped out of school when he was in third grade because all of his
brothers and sisters had left this little farm. They were the only white family in
the area. He was raised with the black people in Alabama, and that was what he
knew. In fact, his accent was the black Southern accent. He would start talking,
and he could rap. We would sit and rap and rap and rap. Now it is the thing. I
can remember in the dairy, he would sit down at that little stool. Of course, I was
his son [figuratively], so I worked with him on the dairy. I was the baby. It wasn't
proper for my oldest sister to go there. He was a dairy farmer, finally, and it was
not proper for her to go to the barn. I guess my mother got tired by the time I
came along, and I snuck off. I was always at the barn. He would sit on a little
stool, and he would sit and just rap and rap and rap about the day's events. I
would stand and dance, and we would all dance around while he was rapping.
Today I hear that. We didn't have music; he just chanted. I am sure he learned
that in Alabama from the black culture. He told me that one time, he took me
back there-I can't remember; I was young-and we went up to this lady's house.
It was a black lady. He walked up to her and gave her, I don't know how much
money, an envelope full of money, and he said, I stole your watermelons when I
was a child. He said, they sure were good. He said, I really have felt bad about
it. He said, I want to give you some money.
I was raised by my father most of the time. My mother was the disciplinarian,
and my father was my idol. I lost him about five years ago, now. Anyhow. My
mother was the one who made us do things, and I thank God for her. I
appreciate her. I am probably more like my mother because I am very strict on
my sons. I made them accomplished. Because I was strict on them, my older
son is a physician. His wife is a physician. My youngest son graduated from
college and went straight through highway patrol training, which is what he
wanted to do. But, I said, you have to have a four-year degree before you do
anything. He was happier the day he went through the highway patrol.
So, I need to go back to the beginning, where my mother is. She tells me-and I
would have to check with her to find out because I did not know this until I sat
through her interview-that things were so bad for them. They left all of their
possessions, and she was the oldest girl. There were four younger children, and
the youngest was a boy. There were four girls and a little boy, and she was
conceived from someone else. Supposedly it was the judge's son. Of course,
my mother was from a very poor family, poor white trash, and they were not
having that. Now, the stories altered as I talked to the uncles, who are all dead
now. They said that family tried to come get my mother, and they ran him off
because they wanted my grandmother to stay there. She was the only woman to
run their household. She was their little slave, particularly, and that was really
the event. So I don't know. Things change with stories. Anyhow, she was
different and never knew why until she was about forty-five and this man, her
stepfather, whom she took care of, until he died. She was the one who was the
care giver to her stepfather. It was kind of a handed down thing. But they were
so poor at this time that a man was going to Florida, and my grandma and her
father took the five children and said, may we ride with you, and got on the back
of a truck. My mother always had allergies, and it rained, of course. They were
in the rain, and they would stop and sleep on the side of the road. She said that
her ears hurt. That is what she can remember, that her ears hurt so bad.
Grandpa, Waldrep was his name, somehow had a pipe. How he got the tobacco,
I have no idea, but he would smoke the pipe and blow smoke in her ear, and it
made her feel better. For some reason, that was the only medication that
somehow made her feel better. She recalls sleeping on the side of the road. By
the time they got to Florida, it was very hot and sticky, and the mosquitos were
so big that they cried and cried and said that they had made a terrible mistake
because the bugs were going to kill them. They were not going to live because
the mosquitos covered them. They would huddle together. She could remember
huddling with her brothers and sisters and kind of lying on top of each other to
keep the bugs away. That was her introduction to Florida. She skipped a lot. I
can't remember a lot. I guess I walked out of the room at that time because I had
not heard that story until her interview, and that was very touching to me.
Now, my father's story on coming to Florida was that they also were starving. All
of his brothers and sisters had left the farm, and he stayed with his mother.
Somehow or another he got a vehicle and drove her to Florida and worked on a
dairy. They were all coming to work on dairies. They needed manual labor
because it was all by hand. Everything was done by hand.
H: Who were these dairies owned by? Do you know?
C: My uncle, Wiley Waldrep, had come down first, and the dairy is still there on
University. The one on Taft Street is gone.
H: This was in what town?
C: In Hollywood and Davie. Early on, I would say Waldrep [Waldrep's Dairy, 7505
Taft St, Hollywood, FL], McArthur [Mc Arthur Dairy Inc., 2451 Nw 7th Ave, Miami,
FL], Ladeer, and then Bishop's [Bishop's Brother's Dairy Inc., 2300 Bishop
Dairy Rd., Lorida, FL], also an uncle of mine, later on. I am leaving some
names out. All of the dairy owners today, it is basically old family. Goolsby's.
That is an old family name. Where Driftwood is now was the Goolsby Dairy. I
went to school with those two boys, David [and Robert]. In fact, I thought I was
very, very much in love with him in third grade. [I was] a fat little girl. That is why
I empathize with the little girls because my heart would just flutter. I know how
they feel when they see little boys. Oh! I was going to die. That was Robert
Goolsby, by the way, and he is out of the dairy business now. That family is out,
but my family is still in the dairy business. They moved their business to
Okeechobee and went in with a Jewish family and were very close with that
family, the Berman family.
H: So they are in a partnership?
C: Yes. We have, I think, about 2000 [cows] we milk a day, with two dairies going.
It is ongoing, now. My brother-in-law is working there and Bill Berman, who
represents the other family-and we are family, family-family; in fact, they lived in
our house, and they are just another extended family. They just happen to be
Jewish, that's all. My father would go and pray in synagogue with him, and he
would come to the Baptist church. They made a good combination because my
father was illiterate and finally, somehow or another, learned to read because, in
his later years when he could no longer get along--he had congestive heart
failure, he enjoyed westerns and enjoyed reading books on Seminoles. He was
very close to a lot of the Seminole people in that area because he worked with
them as a young man, as a very young man.
H: Worked with them how?
C: In the dairy business. He was going to make it. For some reason, of all his
brothers and sisters, he was the one who made it. When he first came down, he
had his mom with him, and I guess he had petty-ante jobs. There were cattle on
Biscayne Boulevard. He worked there. Then he started a sign painting
business. It was his first business, he told me. Then he owned a bar in
downtown Miami. That fell through because there was the numbers group that
came in and told him they were going to use the back room. He said he went
home and thought about it that night. He said that they were going to pay him so
much to use the back room because they were going to run this .. whatever.
He said he went in the next day and put the keys on the counter, and he said, I
will make my money some other way because I don't want you owning me, and
walked out. [He] ended up with a family, so he was working for my uncle.
Now, early on in my mother's and father's relationship is very foggy because it is
not talked about very much, but they did live in Miami because my uncle did not
have housing for families. He had a bunkhouse, so you had to have single men
there. So, when my father married my mother, they worked in Miami, and my
uncle was extremely close to my mother because he was like the surrogate
father. He always called her on her birthday and said, I am so happy; the day
you were born, I got on the mule and got the doctor. She was so happy because
somebody was glad she was born; nobody else was very happy that day. For all
of his years, every year, he would call and say, I am so happy. She was
executor of his estate, and they were very close. He was her father, in reality.
She was the business mind, a very sharp person. He would go to her for advice,
as it turned out.
Things must not have been going very well because my mother did not have my
sister until she was almost twenty, so we wondered why. I asked my sister to
ask, and she said she used some kind of birth control. She was not going to
have a baby. For some reason-and I will ask her because she is becoming more
open as her old age comes on-my uncle went down and got her because he
loved her. She was like his child. [He] packed her up and brought her back home
to Hollywood where his dairy was and gave my father a job. I would think that
maybe my father did not have an automobile at that time. I just wonder. Maybe
he was going through a wild stage because he stayed with his mother until his
mother died. His mother had spells. What does that mean? I don't know. My
grandmother had known her in Alabama, and she fainted. He was working on a
dairy, so he would work two shifts, eleven to seven and odd hours. He heard a
loud screaming. He was asleep. It was probably ten o'clock in the morning or
so, and she had fainted and fallen over the wood burning stove. This was in
Miami. He wrapped her and took her, best as he could, to Jackson. She did die
from the burn injuries. He was very devoted to his mother. Then he saw my
mom walking down the street, and he would follow her in his car and would just
keep yelling, pretty little girl. Finally, he went to my grandma and said, may I
have your daughter? He would keep running by the house, and she would sit
there and do her homework. She was a very brilliant lady. She was fifteen, and
so my grandma said, yes, you may have her. Basically it was that he had an
automobile, a job, and could get food. And he was good to her. Now, my mother
was very fortunate because [in] most of the situations, the men were not good to
them. But I think my father went through something because why would my
uncle go get her?
Then finally he gave her a job of cooking for the boarders, and she lived in that
little house on Taft Street. It was still there; they may have torn it down. They
are developing that area. She cooked for all of the boarders, so she was a cook
at sixteen, and my father was a worker. He ended up managing that dairy until
he got his own, later on in life. She worked very hard. Three meals a day she
cooked, at sixteen. There was a bunch of young, rowdy men around, boarders,
and she did all of the cooking. She got pregnant with my sister and got sick-she
did not take pregnancy well-and went to him and said, I have to quit; we will
have to move because I can't work. My uncle said, no, you will stay; we will hire
someone else, and I will take care of you. So, he did and even took her, when
she was in labor, and delivered the baby. My uncle did that. Now, where was
my father? The hell if I know. So, I think he went through that stage. He was a
very good man, but I think everyone goes through something. I am not real sure.
I am still going to try to find out. He is dead, so I don't know. He told me a lot
before he died but not all of the particulars.
H: So, growing up there in Hollywood near the Seminoles, is that what led you to
now work with the Seminoles?
C: I believe so, because it is just natural. I caught the bus with Billy Cypress.
H: The bus to school?
C: Yes. Billy Cypress used to run down to the house on Stirling. That is where we
started our first dairy, on Stirling just past the turnpike. I can't remember the
name of the street.
H: And this is Billy Cypress who is the director of the museum?
C: Right, and Pat Gopher. We would sit on the front of the bus, and the rest of them
would sit in the back because they were very rowdy. We were the students, the
three of us. It was natural. It seemed natural because when I ended up going to
college, we had our dairy there, and I went to college when we lived in Davie.
We had a dairy there and then, while in college, they progressed and moved the
dairy to Okeechobee. That was about the year I was married.
H: And what college did you attend?
C: The University of Florida. My mother made me go. I was in love with someone
who pumped gas at the station, and she was very upset, packed my bags, and
said, you are going. She was a very big woman at that time, and you didn't cross
her. [She] threw my bags in the room and said, you will stay. I dropped out, and I
called her. She said, I will be right up there to get you and, before she came to
pick me up, she had already seen the dean and said, she is not dropping out.
She took my bags--I was sitting on them in the parking lot--and threw them in the
room and said, you may be kicked out, but you are not going to quit. She was a
big woman, and I wished her death that day. But she didn't die, and I did stay,
and I did finish. I had gone over to quit with several other friends, and they never
finished. They didn't have a mean mother like I did.
H: What years did you attend at the University of Florida?
C: Jonathan was born in 1968. I graduated from high school in 1963, from McArthur
high school [6501 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, FL]. I must have graduated from
college in 1967, and then my husband stayed and got his master's in physiology.
H: What was your degree in?
C: Education. Then we moved. We got married our second year of college, and he
got his master's, and I had Jonathan. Jonathan is thirty-one, this last month.
Then, when he was six weeks old, my first job was with Santa Fe Junior College
in the manpower program on the old site of the Hotel Thomas, downtown
Gainesville. I did the literacy part, and it was the same type of work. In the
literacy part to the go to work program, manpower, I taught English and math to
adults who had not made it in society. That was my first experience. My diploma
was still wet. I had to get a job because we had no money and were too proud to
take it from our parents. So I found a job, I went in for the interview, and I got it.
I had to call back and say, did I really get the job? They said, yes, you did. I
think I made five dollars an hour, and I was really tickled. That was good money
then. It was very good money then. I worked half-days and made enough
money to help us through. Then we moved to Clewiston and since I had
Jonathan-Jonathan was eight months old when I moved to where I am now,
Devil's Garden-I did not work. Billy Cypress came to me that year, and he was
the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] director at the school for all of the BIA projects.
He and Cecil Johns came to the house. I was living at the house at the barn,
weighing almost 300 pounds. I was a big girl. They asked me to teach. I had
the baby and I said, I have no child care; I can't. That was in 1968. They still
tease me; they say, oh, Vivian was so fat, sitting there with that baby, and she
would not even work. I say, well, I had to take care of my baby. So the years
proceeded. Jonathan went to school. In his first year of kindergarten, there were
no buses, so I drove him everyday to Clewiston and back for a half day.
H: You say you live in Devil's Garden.
C: It is just fifteen miles. It is just an area.
H: Is it part of the reservation? Or is it adjacent to the reservation?
C: No. We own our own ranch there. We have our own cattle ranch there. If you
look at the map of Florida, you will see Big Cypress and a little bitty area that is
called Devil's Garden. It is just a little area. It is not a town or anything.
H: Do you know anything about the history of that name? Why is it called that?
C: No. I read one time that it was because years and years ago there were some
devil worshipers who gathered there and there was satanic stuff going on. True
or not, I don't know. That is why it got that name.
H: So when Jonathan went to school, they recruited you to teach?
C: Not right away, because I chose ... because he went to Clewiston, I went to
Clewiston. I taught three years at the public school in Clewiston. I am glad I did.
Then I came back when I had Brad in 1975. When he was three and I could find
childcare here, that is when I came here, because I didn't have my ducks in a
row. It wasn't convenient. I mean, I couldn't come here. I had another baby
then, and the childcare and economics in 1975 .... The year before that, cattle
prices were wonderful, and we had bought apartments in Naples. It was like
Monopoly; we were going to go on forever and just be billionaires. Well, guess
what. The market fell down, and we had all of these bills. I had to go to work.
So I carried my baby everyday and found childcare in Clewiston and worked in
the public school's fifth grade for three years. Then the evening of the last year-I
think it was 1977 or 1978; I do not recall-I started working as the ABE nighttime
instructor here, two to three nights a week.
H: ABE, meaning Adult Basic Education?
C: Yes, and GED at what was called IMTS. That is the same place I am at now. By
the beginning of the next school year, they needed me full-time because a
person in the full-time position had gone to be director, so I became the IMTS
coordinator in 1978.
H: And what is IMTS?
C: Individual manpower training services, the same thing as manpower, the same
thing as what is called today SALE, I think, today. It has gone through many
different name changes. Basically what we are doing at the center now includes
that but much more. We are called the Learning Resource Center now.
H: What kinds of activities gone on there or services do you provide?
C: Everything. We have Ahfachkee school, and that takes care, and we have the
pre-schools. We have the zero on [Explain?].
H: What relationship do you have to Ahfachkee School?
C: We are cooperative, very cooperative. I work with them. I do their IEPs,
Individual Education Plans of a fourteen-year-old. I work with older children. We
do the higher education. We do GED, prep school, parental counseling one-on-
one, innovative education of whatever it takes, home visits. The son of the lady
working for me is in Riverside. Prior to working for me, she was struggling, trying
to get her children back. It is just a kind of support system. We do things very
H: Let's talk a little bit about the Ahfachkee school.
C: The Ahfachkee school is great now.
H: About how many students attend there?
C: At the beginning of the year, the count was 125, and I think we had some from
Immokalee. At the moment I would say maybe 115. Today, at this one moment,
I could not tell you, but I had the count at 125 at one time.
H: Do most of the Seminole children on the reservation here attend that school?
C: Yes, most of the Seminole children on the reservation. We have very few not
attending Ahfachkee. Ahfachkee, in the last two or three years, has gone
through a significant upgrading.
H: In what way?
C: The curriculum. It is a role-model school, now, for all of the Native American
schools. They are adhering to the goals 2000 from the Florida school system,
state requirements. We have eighteen children, probably less now, going to the
Clewiston schools, by choice-it is a choice of the families, and we have 115-120,
depending on the day, going to Ahfachkee. Years past it was flipped. Now we
have a high school. Our high school is an alternative school. Our drop-out rate
was a real challenge here, as it is everywhere. Years ago, before the high
school and before all of the choices available for our students, you went to
Ahfachkee until sixth grade, and you had two choices: get on the bus at six
o'clock in the morning and go to Clewiston, to a totally different atmosphere that
maybe wasn't your choice, or go to a Native American boarding school in
Oklahoma. That was it. If you didn't fit in those two molds, you dropped out. A
lot of the children did drop out because they did not fit into the molds. Now we
have an alternative school here, and it is Plato-based. That is the new thing in
education throughout the country, the alternative schools. It is competency-
based learning. They have it in Clewiston. I had a young lady live with me,
Tammy Billie, who would not have graduated without the competency-based
learning lab. In front of the computer, it is you, and when you learn the skills, you
get the credit. It is not time-based; it is competency-based. An excellent
program, and not everyone adheres to that, either. There are no molds, thank
you very much. We have individuals, and we have to find places that will service
their needs. I don't have my list with me, but we have about fifteen in the
alternative high school. Most of them have gone through some kind of
challenges here and there, maybe tried this or that. A few of them made the
choice to stay there from Ahfachkee and are graduating from there and, had we
not had the high school, I would say would be drop-outs.
H: So most of their work at the high school, then, is done on computers?
C: Most of it. We also have culture classes, since we have a wealth of knowledge
here, on the reservation. You can have Seminole history, with the museum. You
have different people. We had one lady take them out and show them how to get
sweet grass at Immokalee, how to make baskets, how to do their patchwork, how
to dig [out] a canoe. It is just, absolutely, to learn your environment. I mean,
things will be sitting right here, and I don't notice them. This is their culture, and
they are just blossoming. We have just had really great success.
H: That is great. You mentioned that a very small percentage of students go to
Clewiston and it is by choice of the parents. Do you have any knowledge of why
they make that choice?
C: In years past, I would say, the services of Ahfachkee were not up to par with the
Clewiston schools and probably the parents experienced that. They want their
children to be in the mainstream of society, and if I have one reason, it is that
they say, well, I want my children to learn how to deal with everybody in the
outside world also. That is their choice. If I were Seminole and I had my child, I
would put them in Ahfachkee and then, later on, give them the experiences of the
outside world, because we do have to learn to live in the big world, and this is a
small community. We have to learn about the other cultures and how to deal in
Spain or in Washington or whatever, but having your community school is just so
wonderful for a community and for your child. It makes a strong community.
H: Yes, and it is a good way to maintain the culture.
C: A very good way to maintain the culture.
H: Do you have any information about the success rate of the students who have
attended Ahfachkee school and then make a transition to public school?
C: Okay. We have had, in the past....
H: When you say the past, about when?
C: Five years ago. It was a terrible transition because they did not have the
academic skills to keep up or maybe the discipline was different, and they did not
quite keep up with this public school: twenty-five kids in the classroom, and you
had to conform and, excuse me very much, you sit in that seat, and all of this. I
find the transition, now, because it is by choice . .. They bring me in for the
fourteen-year-old individual education plan because I seem to be the one who
does the placements for the other schools. The choices that the Seminoles have
given the families and the children are absolutely heart-warming and
phenomenal. James Billie and the council have absolutely opened their
pocketbooks, their hearts, and said, we are going to do something for these kids,
and they have. We have eighteen children here, by family choice, and the
families do the running back and forth to all of our preparatory schools. Now
these are very high-rated, very expensive schools, [like] Riverside Military
Academy in Gainesville, Georgia. I was there this weekend. We saw two of our
cadets marching. They are learning the discipline of the outside world, thank you
very much, and it warmed my heart to see that because of the self-pride that
comes from that and the discipline that they are learning. I saw that with my
youngest son. He did not have the self-esteem as [did] my oldest because my
oldest was a straight-A student and a doctor and, excuse me, now what am I
going to do. But after going through the military-type training of the Florida
highway patrol, he became very proud of himself. We have two female cadets at
Admiral Farragut [academy], and that is very well-known. All of these are very
well-known schools. They are doing great. I called about them yesterday. They
are doing absolutely wonderful. We have one young man at Mont Verd. It is
near Orlando. It is a prep school. Boarding prep schools from here because we
are so remote. Let me think. We have two day students at Belle Glade because
the family has bought a house in Clewiston, and they have eight children. Two of
their sons are catching a bus and going to Glades private school, and the
daughter chose to stay in Clewiston high school. When a child has a choice of
where they want to be in education, they are successful. If you make them go
into something, they are not successful. It is a choice and a privilege. We are
probably going to have two young ladies in Bernell. Bernell is a very prestigious
preparatory high school, very, very small. Seventy-five girls; it is all girls. It is a
small high school on a college campus, and they get to use all of the facilities of
the college campus. It is probably one of the best atmospheres you can think of
because a private school cannot provide the performing arts. The library they
have is unbelievable.
H: And where is this located?
C: That is in Gainesville, Georgia, the same town as Riverside Military Academy.
How many more? I am missing some schools. Vanguard. We have three in
Vanguard, and that is a very pricy school because they learn with alternative
learning styles. We have three exceeding, excellent because maybe it takes a
little different technique to learn their reading and math. That is in Lake Wales,
Florida. Right now, we don't have students at Brandon Hall in Georgia [Atlanta].
That is another school that would deal with different learning styles, alternative
learning styles, and would bring them up to grade level and to their capacity and
help them have a wonderful expansion and find their best talents there. Later on
I am going to think of some more. We have a lot of them out there.
H: Are these schools that have come into the Seminole community to propose that
the students be sent there, or are these schools that you have researched?
C: No. We have researched. No, we don't do that. We had a school come to us
and say, we want to do a community presentation, and I said, in one word, no.
We don't do that. All of the children and families are individuals. We sit down,
we look at their learning styles, and then we give them shopping lists, because
the same child who would go to Bernell would not be the same child who would
succeed at Vanguard, and the number-one thing we want for our families and our
children is to succeed. So we don't have them because the families would not
know, nor should they unless they are educators, what this is offering and maybe
the learning styles of their children. I explain it. I have a lot of the kids coming in
[and saying], well, I want to go to the same school as so and so. Well, guess
what. Maybe that is not the best. We get the school for you. We select. Have
we made mistakes and have we had them kicked out? Yes. We are human
H: Yes. You cannot really foresee all of the different commitments that
C: I have learned, though, that the kid really, really has to want to go. If they make
that extra mile and go try to do something to get to go, they usually stay. Also,
with the college, we do the placement for any place in the nation or country, I
guess, where students want to go to college. As long as they make the grades,
the tribe pays for it.
H: They have to maintain a certain grade-point average?
H: So you work with Seminole children who are not only on Big Cypress but also
C: No. I work here, at Big Cypress. Every now and then I will have families come
by from Immokalee or from Brighton because I know their families. They will just
sit back, and we will have a little conversation on what might be best for their
child, and I will give them information, but I am at Big Cypress.
H: Do they have a person in your capacity at Brighton?
C: I think they have a counselor there. Yes. But I don't think they have anyone
named the learning resource coordinator. Actually, the IEPs, the Individual
Education Plans, when I sign off that I have been in the meeting, my name is
Other, along with the student. I said, I finally know my title; I am the Other. We
have done a lot of projects from learning resources. We had a leather project
one time that we tried to do.
H: Yes. Why don't you tell me a little bit about that.
C: We do community education. This Thursday we are going to have a class, a lady
come in to teach a group of people how to get your CDL license for a van,
because we have some people driving vans who need to have the correct
license. That is another project. I have had computer training. I have had
groups from Tallahassee come in and set up a portable computer lab. Everyone
is afraid of computers, and we sit down for a whole day. We say, now, this is a
computer, and I sat with them because I needed that also. We have had college
classes. We started college classes back in the 1970s with Edison Community
College. When we get a group of people together, we have had college classes
out here. If we can get fifteen people, they will bring a professor out. One time,
we were working with the training for the cattle industry. Before they had their
own trainers over there, we had community workshops, and we would get people
from the University of Florida teaching the cattle owners because that was a big
thing at that time. It still is, but it is not the money maker. Guess what. I know
that. I am a cattleman. I own cattle. Beef cattle. Milk cows make money.
That's good. We would have seminars on that. So whenever anybody comes up
with a need, I try to figure out exactly how we can solve it. They came to me with
a need. They had their tail in a knot saying, oh, my God! Summer is coming.
My drivers aren't certified. The insurance company is jumping up and down. I
said, well, let's do something about it. So we are bringing a trainer in from
Tampa because I don't know a thing in the world about vans or teaching for your
CDL. I am not going to get my CDL. I don't want it, thank you very much. But
this lady teaches that; she knows how to do it, and we brought her in. She will be
here tomorrow. She called this morning, and it will just be a prep course for that.
Let's see, what else have we done? Oh, a leather project. James has always
tried, God bless him. That man works harder than anyone I know because he is
always out there hustling. Something else. Something else. He is always
coming up with ideas. He had an idea one time. It didn't work, but at least we
tried. It was: we need jobs out here, right? Cherokee makes moccasins, so we
went to Cherokee and looked at their factory. They had a big factory there. We
came back and at the learning resource center, when we had a bigger facility
down there that fell apart (and where we are is falling apart), we set up a leather
industry. We went and got a double footer-I think that is what it was called-to
cut the forms, and James came in from somewhere, I don't know where he got
these forms for these moccasins. He comes in with all of these forms. First of
all, we are cutting them out with a knife, right? Then we get someone else in to
help us a lot. Mark Madrid was working on that project. Mark Madrid is Native
American, non-Seminole. He has worked on and off the reservation throughout
the years. He came in for that special ... [End of Side A] By the time you pay
somebody to stitch that moccasin--and their hands are bloody, mine got bloody,
and we were trying to piece-make, paying them by the piece because we are
trying to make money--we could not afford to pay them to lace them and make a
profit. It just didn't work. Plus, nobody wanted to sit there and lace those stupid
things, but we did try. Yes, we did. We tried. Since that didn't go so well, we
had the leather, so we started making leather vests and did the Seminole design.
That went pretty well. We kind of dropped the project; it didn't make money. But
it was just another idea, just one of the millions of ideas that James has gone for.
Did they all work? No. But that is how very successful men like James
succeed: As you keep trying, you keep trying, and keep trying.
That is what my dad did. He kept trying and kept trying, even though he couldn't
read and write, he still made it. Thank God, because it is the dividends I get from
him that keeps me going. My education can't support the ranch. My education is
my love, and the dairy is my income. I guess the ranch is my husband's hobby,
and my son wants it. We have had family meetings on it. We will end up making
money on it somehow because we have some ideas. Down the road, we will do
something with it. But, he kept going, kept going, never stops.
C: James. This is his whole idea here. He has a vision. He sees things, and no
one else really sees it. Well, he saw things in education, too. I see things in
education. I have visions for these children and because they supply the money,
that is the only reason that all of these things and the vision--because James has
a vision--we are able to succeed; these children are able to succeed and have
the opportunities. I am so thankful I have lived long enough and have been able
to be part of it. I am proud of it, proud to be a part of it.
H: You should be.
C: I am proud of James. He kids around a lot, but that man works. I don't know if
you have ever had to follow him around, but you are not going to .... Yes. He
will keep going.
H: When you do your individual counseling, and you mentioned the prep schools
and the military schools, do you also refer the Seminole children to vocational
C: Oh, yes. Absolutely. There are not two human beings on this Earth alike. I don't
know how God did that or the combinations of genes did that. Educators in the
past and educators who are trying to control, when you are way up here and
trying to control many reservations, end up trying to get molds. I can understand
why they try to do that because there is this administrative, up here thing, but
when you are working with the people, and that is my choice .... I worked in
Hollywood for a while and please, God, don't make me go back. I live there, but I
do not want to work [there]. I love working with the people and hugging, like that
little boy, I like that, and that is what I do. You end up making these molds: this is
a slot, this is a slot, and that is what we are going to do. Well, guess what. If I
don't fit in those two slots, I am lost. So yes, a lot of vocational.
We had one young man who had a different learning style. I like to put it that
way. An alternative learning style. Every person who can walk can learn. I
mean, if you are born, you can learn something. Okay. He did go through
Clewiston high school, and I called over. He wanted to work with diesel
mechanics. He was at school every single day, a very reliable person. [He] went
through the special classes, got his diploma. [He] went through the vocational
education program and went through the diesel and did excellent on it. [He] now
wants to go through welding, and I am sure he will be very dedicated toward that.
Absolutely. Vocational training.
We had an IEP the other day with a fourteen-year-old who is very connected to
Miccosukee because of family and is very bilingual. The mother talks to the child
in Miccosukee at all times. At fourteen, he wants to do something in a cultural
way. He likes doing the air boats. I said, there is a lot of money in doing air
boats for tourists. There is nothing wrong with that. Swamp owl, out here, that is
H: What is swamp owl?
C: Swamp owl is the one who goes around telling stories all of the time. He rides a
horse. He is an entertainer. That's an occupation. As I sat and talked to that
little boy with a group of people I said, you know the government has made this
big old book of names of occupations. It is about a foot tall and little bitty print,
and I said, you know what? It still doesn't have them all in there. So if you can
find something that you like doing, that is your occupation, and each person is
different. You don't have to be a doctor. You don't have to be a lawyer. But the
one thing I do insist upon is, and I do insist upon it, I stress if you are a doctor, if
you are a lawyer, or if you dig canoes, do it well. Do a good job, and be proud of
your work. You are there to perform a service. Make sure you do a good job of
it. That is what I told my son. I said, I don't care if you are a doctor or not. You
are there to perform a service, and you'd better find a good one. That is it. That
is my speech. And a lot of encouragement and morale building and self-esteem
building, because many of them are afraid to go do that.
H: Afraid to?
C: A lot of the students may be, especially the drop-out students with a GED. It
takes a lot because if you have not been successful in school, you don't feel too
good about yourself. But, if Ms. Vivian or somebody from the family grabs you by
the hand and says, you are going to do that, you can sit there and say, well, they
made me do this; I really did not want to do this. Then, when you are successful
at that, finally successful, then you are very proud of yourself. When you have
fallen down so many times or have been tripped, it is very hard to get up. It
depends on the individual. I have fallen down a lot, and I get back up, maybe
because I was trained to. Maybe it is my genes. I don't know. James has fallen
down many times and always gets back up. Now is this training? Is this James?
Is this just personalities? There you go, another whole big issue. You're an
anthropologist. Tell me. I don't know. Everybody is different.
H: That is true. Tell me how you go about determining the different learning styles.
Do you have some kind of standardized test that you use?
C: Yes. We have the psychologist who comes to the school, and we have
psychological testing. We have individual psychological testing. That is one
way. By knowing the families and the child, I can almost tell you what the
psychologist is going to say before it is finished, but many of the schools want
this. So it helps them. Yes, I want to look at their end-of-the-year scores to see-
California or whatever test they use. Nothing is conclusive because he may have
sat there and gone to sleep during the test.
H: And especially because most standardized tests are standardized based on a
totally different population than the Seminoles.
C: Yes. At the school now, though, you know and I know-I mean, you are getting
your doctorate, and I have been in education for years and years-doors are
opened through good test scores. That is a fact of life. I don't care what culture
you are. I don't care what color you are-purple, green, black, white, or yellow-
good test scores are going to open the door. If you can't get a good test score,
you are not going to get in there to have a chance. They are working not just on
the test scores, but these children are starting to write now in kindergarten. I
hope they start with the pre-schools with qualified teachers. It is an art to teach.
It is a trained art to teach. You do not take a waitress and put them in there and
H: That is true. I am an educator, also. I have a degree in education.
C: Thank you. Can I take someone, who is used to waiting tables-God bless them;
that is a wonderful occupation-and put them in a pre-school and say, now, teach
these children? Some people are born to do that. I have two ladies down there
without degrees, and I would put them with any group of children because they
are born educators. They don't have the degree, but they are born educators.
But it does not work. The younger you can start it, the better. My poor children.
I started giving them their IQ tests at one because I knew how to do it with the
pictures. The Picture Peabody thing. Yes. My poor kids. But they do need to
learn the skills enough to test because it helps.
H: Is that something that you do at your learning resource center, to help prepare
them for taking standardized tests?
C: A little bit. They do that at the school.
H: At Ahfachkee?
C: At Ahfachkee. Yes, I will teach them how to pass the GED. Do I have old GED
tests that the state does let me have and I can buy. Yes, I do. Do I let them take
them and learn how to take a test? Yes, I do. Have I taken a whole week test? I
took a course myself on how to take a test, and I pass those skills on. My thirty-
one-year-old could sit down, and you could put any test in front of him; never
reading the material, he would pass the test. He is just a good test taker. My
youngest son would probably know the material and not test very well because
he froze. I don't know what it is, but it is a difference.
We also work with the health department. I know there is a need for doing the
CPR at the gym, and I am sure I will get with them. They have someone who
may be coming in. We will put notices around to all of the programs saying, hey,
we are going to have this. I know Jeannette Cypress has had a group coming in,
so I need to check with her, coordinating different activities educationally-related.
I will get in there and I will get them coordinated.
H: So it does not really matter what the area is. If there is learning involved, you get
involved at the learning resource center?
C: If they want me, yes. I am pretty creative. I can get on the phone and find out. I
have learned to use the internet. Man, that is a wonderful tool! Also, I send
mommies to Sylvan [Learning Center]. Yes. I wish Sylvan was around with my
youngest son. I had to hire in teachers to come into the house for three years
because he was dyslexic. Guess what. He graduated from college with very
good grades and had excellent comprehension skills.
H: You say you send some of the parents to Sylvan?
C: With the children. No, we don't bus them. No. This is a mommy thing. We are
really into the family, mommy/daddy thing.
H: For the parents taking responsibility for getting the education.
C: Taking responsibility. As I say, I had to drive. Excuse me very much, you have a
new vehicle, then why don't you do this? We have exceptions to that rule now
and then. Whenever I stomp my foot and I say, never, I will turn back around the
next day and probably do it. I happened to go with some this weekend without a
family because of other circumstances, and Leslie Billie and I took them.
H: The attitude toward education at (quote-unquote) white schools has really
changed dramatically in this community over the past thirty years then?
C: I don't understand your question.
H: There was a time when Seminole parents didn't want their children to go to
outside schools, and I am seeing that that has dramatically changed.
C: That has dramatically changed, I am told by the seniors. In fact, it was a senior
from Miccosukee. Miccosukee does not have mandatory education. He must be
in his eighties. I am fifty-four, so his children must be a little younger than I am.
Education was started at Miccosukee then and, as he told me, the medicine
men--the seniors at that time said, this is very bad. This will bring bad things to
our community, to send and let white people teach your children because they
are going to teach them the other ways, too. He ended up with a situation. He
says, that man is dead, and I argued with him. He says, when I get to heaven, I
am going to apologize because he was right. [Both laugh.] We had a really fun
conversation about it, and he said, yes, they did learn a lot of good with the bad.
But we are in a world where you have to deal with things. I think, yes, I see a lot
of the parents desperate to keep the culture because the mothers my age and a
little older, going to school, did not speak English. When they went into English-
speaking schools, they were devastated. So when they raised their children,
they made sure they knew English because they didn't want their children to go
through that devastation. But guess what. They forgot to teach them their native
language. So now it is the mommies in their twenties raising the babies saying,
excuse me, mom; something is wrong here. They are trying to make sure. Now,
Big Cypress' children probably know more Miccosukee than, say, Hollywood.
Yes. Probably the Miccosukee children know the most, more traditional, but they
are going back. In the school, I can recall James Billie sitting in the old learning
resource center, IMTS, what used to be called the blue trailer, and talking about
education. He said, you know, the Jewish teach their culture in their schools; I
don't see why we can't do that. I am seeing that now. I have heard him say
many things, years and years and years ago, and I will be darned if he has not
done it. He has done everything that he has said. He had visions of what was
going to be done. Yes.
H: So teaching of Seminole culture, is that a part of the main curriculum at
C: Yes, it is.
H: Is it taught by Seminole teaching assistants?
C: Teresa Jumper is teaching the baskets and the beadwork. I don't know who else
is teaching in there. You would have to ask the people at Ahfachkee who they
have coming in from the outside. I think Patsy West used to do some things in
there. I don't know if she is now or not. I know some of the seniors going in.
They bring those in for certain projects, to learn certain skills. I took a group. I
went with a group of Big Cypress children, and we had about twenty-five, to
Washington, D.C., in the end of January, first of February to USED [US
Department of Education]. It was the Washington close-up.1 They take the
1 The Close Up Foundation awards Ellender fellowships through the Washington
Program for High School Students and Educators to students, teachers, and administrators to
enable them to go to Washington, D.C., for a first-hand look at the operations of the three
branches of the U.S. Government.
chaperones separately, and we have training, and the children separately. They
go through everything in D.C., and they concentrate on the Native American part
and going to all of the Native American ... because we did gather as Native
Americans, but it is a service for everybody. I just gave the brochures to Janet
Taylor, who is trying to do something with our black community, and she is going
to do something with that. But the one that we did, only because we were there
as Native Americans, we housed together, and they got to know other tenth,
eleventh, and twelfth graders from other reservations. That was kind of neat.
H: All around the country?
C: Right. The one thing that I learned there, if I brought something back and
learned it, is that our group got together. They had to agree. There were twenty
children from different reservations. They really didn't know each other that
much. They didn't know each other on a daily basis. One day's project was that
they had to identify one problem, one solution, and one action plan, and agree.
That is hard thing to do for twenty children. The facilitator came to me and said, I
am having a lot of trouble with your kids. I said, why? He said, they are really
fussing around in there. I said, what is the problem? Then, he went back in. He
was a really neat guy. Later in the day we wanted to preview it-they invited us to
preview their presentation prior to giving it to a big audience so it wouldn't be
something naughty, something about Monica or something-and what they
identified was culture and respect for seniors. They came up with this with their
own thing. Later I was talking to the children, and I sit around. I am one that will
just sit and talk and listen to the kids. They said, do you know why we had so
much trouble? I said, why? They said, we spent three hours arguing with him
and with each other. I said, well, what about? They said, why should we do this,
because older people do not listen to us anyhow, so why should we do this?
Good lesson. I stood up at the education meeting and told that, and I said, go
home and listen to your child; they have a lot to teach you. As I get older, I learn
more from young ones.
H: You mentioned doing some work with your black community. Are you talking
about the community that has intermarried with the Seminoles?
C: The Harlem. No. Well, yes, I guess some of them are. They are in Clewiston.
Janet Taylor happens to be our commissioner. Since I was in the Hendry County
school system, my children went to Hendry County school system. After Head
Start, my youngest son went to the Hendry County school system. They were
back and forth to the reservation, and the Seminoles were back and forth in my
home. We had a lot of events in my home because there were no facilities
around here at that time. I have a big house, so we had some things there.
Janet Taylor is the commissioner for our county. Years ago, I was a state
committeewoman for the Democratic party. She happened to be on the
committee, so we traveled a lot. She happens to be a really big black woman,
and a very good friend. The first trip we ever took to Washington, she took her
son, and I took my son for safety patrol. I have a picture of it. She came out the
other day, and she said, I think we look better today. I said, I will be danged if we
don't. She is also an assistant to Alcee Hastings [Florida Congress, District 23,
elected 1992, 1994, 1996] now, so she has come up in the world and is working
very hard. She has a community that is called Harlem here in Hendry County. It
is a black community. That is just what it is. They are having the same problems
as every other community, but she is trying to do something about their
community. The new trend is having a place where you can go in and get
information and go out with something about education or whatever, which we
have been doing for years at learning resources. It is a happy place.
H: Yes. I could tell that.
C: Oh, yes. It is fun. And if you know that is what you are going to find there, then
you will walk out with some kind of information. She came out, and she also is
trying to get something like that. She had a fund-raiser with Alcee. She is calling
it a library. You can call it a family resource center. They have something going
now in Pahokee. They have something going in Indiantown. Because a lot of
your migrant families and all, they are afraid of the institution of the school. If you
have a really friendly place that makes you feel better, you can go in there and
get information, and maybe you don't have to act on it. You can come into our
center and get information about, maybe, mental services that are available, but
then I don't have to go, do I? It is not a referral. Or maybe you can talk to me
about your little girl who is dribbling in love at Admiral Farragut, and you are
having a fit because you made a mistake and had a baby at fifteen, and here she
is slobbering on this boy from Boca. She is doing excellent as a cadet and, I do
not want her.... Well, she is doing pretty well up there, and the hormones come
in. It happens. We messed up our society because our bodies say, make babies
at thirteen to fifteen, and society says we are supposed to wait until we are
twenty or thirty. It is always the mommies trying to keep the boys and girls from
making babies, and the bodies are saying to do this. Guess what. I don't write it
down and refer it to someone in mental health. Have I made referrals? In very
extreme cases, yes, I have. Have I gone in there slugging? In a few cases, yes,
I have. Have I had my ass cussed out? Many times. Have we hugged in about
two or three weeks? Most every time.
H: So you get a lot of cooperation from the community, and a lot of people ....
C: I can go to any camp out here, and I am not afraid. The only time I would be
afraid at a camp is if maybe a non-Indian was there and did not know me. I
would say a Seminole, if he was not in an altered state of mind, would never hurt
me. Now if he happened to be in a state of mind where he didn't know what he
was doing, he would probably hurt anyone. I try not to put myself in that situation
because they would be very embarrassed after it was all over. I feel very
comfortable up here. I have been here a long time. I will just drive up in my
Cadillac to any camp, knock on the door and say, where is so and so? I haven't
seen him in a long time. But have I referred to HRS? One time, and it was a
mistake. Have other people referred to HRS and then they came to me, trying to
get services? Many times.
H: When you say HRS, who ...?
C: Child protection services or something like that. Yes. I will refer every now and
then to our family services, which will give counseling; but, even at that point, I
will go to that person first and say, I really think you need this and if you don't
straighten up, I am going to write and refer you over to Mary. And I will write it,
and I say, I will put my name on it. They get mad at me and yell. Then, pretty
soon they come around and hug my neck.
H: Is there much of a problem with child abuse here?
C: No. I don't think it is child abuse. We are like any other population, like any
other city. Is there a problem with drugs or is there a problem with alcohol, is
there a problem of child abuse in Gainesville?
H: Of course, but this is a much smaller community.
C: You see it more. It is more evident.
H: So per capital it may have a higher incidence because there is a smaller number
C: I don't know the numbers. I can't say that because I don't walk around with
statistics of the other communities, but I do know that there are some horrible
things going on in the other communities, just disgusting things going on in other
H: You hear it every day on the news.
C: Well, finally, when I had been out of education five years, when I came back here
in 1993, I retired. I went to Joel Frank and said, I am resigning, gave him the two
weeks, and I thanked them very much for my many years in employment, and I
am not going to work anymore. He said, I will give you a year. I did travel for
about a year, and then I got my broker's, my salesman's license. I became a
broker and worked with First Union in trust accounts and worked for the
brokerage over in Fort Lauderdale. It was a very good experience for me. I am
glad I did it. Do I want to go back and do it again? No. Did I learn a lot? Boy,
did I. I learned a lot about the outside world. I mean, I am not a stupid woman,
but I did learn how they play their games, yes, which has helped my family. I use
that knowledge in helping other people with financial stuff and just life
H: You were gone for a year, and then you came back?
C: I was gone three years. I left Big Cypress in 1988, and for three years I was
director of vocational training, a Bureau-funded program in Hollywood. Then I
quit. I was not with the Tribe. I still came to Big Cypress, but I was not here all of
the time. I did my real estate traveling thing for five years, and then I came back.
It was like I made my circle.
H: You have been back since when?
C: It was 1993, I believe. I would have to look it up on my health card. It has been
something like five years, and there has been a whole lot of progress. I have
seen a great deal of progress in the community in the last five years.
H: You said you have been here since 1975?
C: I moved out here in 1968, and I knew the people in 1968 because I used to visit
here. I knew Eloise when my thirty-one-year-old was this big and we would go
to her store.
H: One of the things I am asking the Seminole people about is the changes in their
housing, and I was told that maybe fifteen or twenty years ago is when they first
started getting the concrete block housing, and before that there were chickees.
C: Right. I don't know what the first year was that the block houses came in, but I
remember when I was here in 1977 or 1978-1 do not recall the exact year-I
would go teach out at chickees. I would go sit under Roger Cypress' chickee.
Many people were living full-time under chickees at that time. Many people did
not have bathrooms. When James Billie came in, I think I started prior to his
coming on [James Billie first elected chairman in 1979].
H: As chairman?
C: Yes. He is, I guess, almost a year older, not quite a year older than I am, and
happened to be in the same high school band, I discovered just a few years ago.
I said, was that James Billie? His name was James Osceola, and, I will be
darned, there we were sitting in the same high school band at McArthur. He was
playing the tuba, and I was playing the clarinet. What a small world!
H: His name was James Osceola then?
C: Yes. I don't think he knew .... He was kind of from pillar to post, and he was
taken in by Laura Mae [Osceola] and Max [Osceola], Senior. Max, Senior, is
deceased. I guess he took on their name. I don't know. They were asking that,
do I remember James Billie from high school? No. I don't know how long he
was there at McArthur. He is in the pictures. I have a yearbook with him; he was
in track. I think it was in 1955. 1956? I don't know, 1958? I would have to get
the yearbook out. It was just curiosity because Billy Cypress was president of
the class, and I kept looking through the book. Where is everybody? I was in the
band. We had a lot of Seminoles on the football team. James was in the band-
he played the tuba-and, I think, track, and there were three or four extra activities
that had James Osceola. You would see his little crewcut head back there.
Some are pretty good pictures of him in there. He was there. Yes. He was right
in the middle of it.
H: Great. Well, is there anything else that you would like to add that I have not
asked you about?
C: I don't even know what I have said. [Both laugh.] I am an educator and you know
how educators are; they never stop talking. I haven't a clue what I have said.
H: Well, you have given me some good information.
C: We have come a long way. It is a long way. A lot of the mommies say, I wish I
had the opportunities then as they have now. Guess what. You have to take the
opportunity, and you have to perform with the opportunity. I think it is going to be
these mommies with our little ones now that are really going to make the
H: Why do you say that?
C: The mommies are working. I have some pretty dedicated mommies. Do we
have some that are not? Yes, as in any community. You take any community
and you are going to have everything. But I have some really dedicated
H: Dedicated to raising their children?
C: Raising, being parents, being mommies, being families, getting their children to
karate lessons, to this lesson, to that lesson. The multi-experiences. This
weekend Leslie and I took two girls, another mommy with her son at the military
academy, and Leslie's nephew is there, L.D. We took Kowako; that child was
saying different things in four different languages, and he is three years old. And
never stops talking. He is absolutely a total delight. He is a very brilliant, bright
child. When he was riding with me in the car he would tell me everything in the
world he knew, all his relationships. I would say tall; he said, short. Wide;
narrow. Fat; skinny. We would just go back and forth all the time while I am
doing this. Then I asked him about the Easter bunny. He said, oh, we cooked
him. I asked him about the fish outside, because I love to talk to kids. It is
delightful. I said, I remember that L.D. and Billy were fishing in the back yard. I
went back and saw them fishing. Do you still have fish? They are all gone. We
took all of the fish and we cooked them. Everything he does, he cooks. Then he
eats it. He makes sure he cooks it. He said, but we will get some more and we
will cook it for you. He is just delightful. He is such a precious child. He never
stops talking. Absolutely delightful. Did I have fun with that kid? Yes, I did. He
just thrills me, just absolutely thrills my soul. I have a three-year-old grandson.
That is a delight to me.
H: Great. Well, thank you very much.
C: Yes. These kids know a lot more, and I am so happy for it.
H: Very good, for the Tribe and for them.