Interviewer is James Ellison
Interviewee is Lorene Gopher
E: Today is August 15 , Sunday morning, and I am sitting with Lorene Gopher
and Daisy Jumper in Brighton, [Florida], at the Calusa Lodge. We are going to
talk today and do the questionnaire with Lorene Gopher and talk about some of
the issues and the questions and social and cultural changes over the last
generation. To begin with, is Lorene Gopher your full name?
G: Hm-mm [yes].
E: To what clan do you belong?
G: The snake clan.
E: Were you born up in Brighton?
G: I was born in Brighton on a reservation. I was not born in a hospital, no.
E: At home?
G: Hm-mm [yes].
E: When were you born?
G: February 13, 1945. I have four sisters and one brother, and we were all born at
E: You have four sisters and one brother. Are they older or younger?
G: Everybody is older except for my brother; he is younger.
E: Do you have a Creek name, a Miccosukee name?
G: Hm-mm [yes].
E: Is that a name you would want to share with me, or no?
G: Dukutheget [spelling suggested by Jim]. It means Atwo people running.@
SEM 252 page 2
E: Would you know how to spell that in the English alphabet?
G: I can spell it in our alphabet, the way we have it. I never wrote it before. If you
write it longhand, that [Dukutheget] is alright, so you can say it.
E: Yes. I mean, it will not be accurate. And it means Atwo people running.@
G: Uh-huh [yes], and I am sure my grandma named all of us. How she got names
always related to wartime or something. Especially the little boys, it is always like
during the war, little words from there.
E: When it refers to the war, is it referring to the nineteenth century Seminole wars?
G: Hm-mm [yes], because her grandmother told her a lot of things about the war
that her grandmothers grandmother had told that grandmother. So, she kind of
told us, like, firsthand what went on, [how] they ran and how they had to cross
the river and everything. I do not know if anyone knew that much about it, but
they lived to be over 100. I guess I was kind of fortunate in a way because my
mother died when I was young. She did not want our father to raise us, so she
took us [to] my grandmother and my grandfather and my aunt, [who] raised us.
That was a blessing, I guess, because then we could learn all we could from her.
We all went to school except for one of my sisters. They wanted to keep her so
they could teach her the traditional ways everyday, instead of getting her
confused with the white man=s ways and everything. So, she did not go to
school but, to this day, she can read and write and everything. I guess she
learned from us. I used to remember her. You know, we would come back, and
we would be reading comic books and stuff. She would be looking at them too,
but she would be saying it in our language. We would be reading, and she would
SEM 252 page 3
be talking in our language. That is all we spoke until we went to school, our
E: So, you were living with your grandmother?
G: At that time, yes.
E: And this was your mothers mother?
G: My mothers mother, uh-huh [yes].
E: And what was her name?
G: Lucy Pierce, and her brother [was] Billy Bowlegs. They were brother and sister,
but they had a different father.
E: You were mentioning that earlier.
G: Yes, so that is how we were raised. But, they knew the importance of us going to
school because they were the ones who stressed [that] the most, especially my
grandfather. He wanted us to go to school everyday. We went to the little school
out here, to begin with.
E: Which school is that?
G: Brighton Indian Day School. Yes, we went there. I do not know if my brother
went or not. I think he might have went one year before we moved over to
Okeechobee. I remember, I was telling my husband yesterday; I said, 1954 was
when we went to Okeechobee School. I mean, that is when I went over there in
the fourth grade, the 1954-1955 school year. That was what I was telling him
yesterday. I do not know what brought that on.
E: So, you started at the Day School?
G: Yes. We went to the Day School. I do not know for how long, and then they
SEM 252 page 4
were going to close it down. So then, we went over to Okeechobee School.
E: Why were they closing it down?
G: I have no idea, probably because we needed to assimilate with different people.
I do not know what it was.
E: That was too good.
G: Yes, they probably just wanted to close it down because they were probably
cutting funds or something, because it was a federal school.
E: And then you went to Okeechobee?
E: Before we get onto the education, I wanted to back up to your name. It was Atwo
people running.@ Did it refer to two specific people?
G: There are always stories of what happened during that time. This is what her
grandmother had told her, or something like that. They always ran during the
war, so I figure that is where it comes from. I did not ask her. She might have
told somebody. Like my sister, the one who did not go to school, the one I was
talking about, she is the one who named my grandkids. I could [have], I guess,
but I let her do it. So, she does the same thing too.
E: Is this your sister who stayed at home?
G: Uh-huh, Martha Jones. She is very knowledgeable. She is not that old but,
since she was raised that way, she knows as much as a 100-year-old person
probably does, because she was raised by my grandmother. I was surprised
they did not give you her name, to talk to her.
E: Well, you just did. That is how it works; names come up.
SEM 252 page 5
G: Yes. Alright, she to Billy and David Black, working at the museum, so
they use her a lot now. In fact, she is on that She is the pre-speaker
on that museum.
E: At the intro film.
E: Okay, that is interesting. I do not think her name came up before, but she
sounds like somebody who it would good to talk with. It almost sounds like the
names are a way that history gets passed on without explicitly teaching history, I
guess, the way white people think about history in schools, with great places and
names and that kind of thing.
G: Yes, because I was really dumb about my history because my brothers name
was Andrew Jackson Bowers, Jr., because my daddy=s name was Andrew
Jackson Bowers. So, I did not think anything about it. I did not know that he was
the bad guy. Then, when I started working for the museum and I told Tom that
my brothers name was Andy, and Andrew Jackson, he said, what? I said, I do
not know anything about that. I said, I know the history, but they did not teach us
in school; so, I just know what my grandma told me, [that] there were wars and
all that. But, I did not know he did all this. You know, I was really dumb. Then,
as I worked with Billy, he would tell me different things, and I would ask him. So,
I kind of know the history now but, you know, people talk about 18-something,
there were [the] First [and] Second Seminole Wars and all that. I did not know
that. I knew there were wars. I saw the books and I read them, maybe, but I did
not know. I just knew my grandmothers version.
SEM 252 page 6
E: What did she say if she did not teach it that way, that there a first war and second
G: No. I mean, I do not think so. I mean, there were always wars. That was all she
E: So, what kind of things did she tell you, because she was getting it from her
grandmother and her mother?
G: Yes, the grandmothers grandmother and all that. It was like how they ran, how
they had to keep the baby quiet, because if the baby cried, then they would be
found, and those kind of things. How they would use medicine so they could
cross the deep river and all that kind of stuff. I was talking to somebody else the
other day and they said, your grandmother is the only one that I know that used
to talk about how they used to run and stuff like that. I said, maybe, but I never
really talked to anybody else about that far back. So, maybe there are other
people who do that. I do not know.
E: I have heard some other people in some of these interviews talking about that,
their grandparents talking about running and hiding and medicines that made
people invisible and that kind of thing. Those seem to be pretty significant
stories. When would she tell you these sort of stories? Was there an organized
time at night, or just on any kind of occasion?
G: Just anytime, whenever she could talk to us. At night when we were going to
sleep, because I was still living with my grandmother, or just anytime during the
day. Something happened or you did something, and that is when she would
start talking about things, [about] why you should not do this. It just went on and
SEM 252 page 7
on. It was like a learning thing everyday.
E: Now, you were born in 1945, and you were up here at Brighton. It was before a
lot of development had taken place, I suspect. Were you living in a camp, in a
G: Hm-mm [yes], we lived in chickees. We lived way back in the woods when we
were growing up. We did not even have electricity. I was a senior in high school,
and we did not have electricity. Some time after that, I guess we got it, when
they moved into a house. I probably was away at school when they moved into
the house. But, we lived in a camp setting.
E: And the central person at that home was your grandmother?
G: Yes, probably her, but my aunt was the one who worked all the time though.
E: Your aunt, your mothers sister?
E: She had a job off...?
G: Uh-huh. She worked for the Lykes brothers [of Lykes Bros., Inc., Florida]. She
used to do different things but in the end, she worked for Lykes Bros. for a long
time. She retired from there.
E: What did she do for them?
G: Worked on an orange grove, in a little nursery taking care of little plants. Way
before that, I remember they used to pick beans and all kinds of stuff. I do not
know about the tomatoes. We used to be over in the Lake Placid area and work
E: You did some of that too?
SEM 252 page 8
G: We did. I would always pick tomatoes. On a weekend, when we got out of
school, we would go pick tomatoes, or whatever, and make some money.
E: Do you remember how much?
G: I think they were like $0.25 a bucket or something. Sometimes, we would help
plant grass, pick up roots before planting grass, those kinds of things.
E: Plant grass? You do not mean in peoples ?
G: On the cow pastures for different ranches.
E: Was it mostly Indian people doing this kind of agricultural stuff?
G: Yes. This one lady would always do that, so she would always get us on a
weekend so we go to work with her. Her name was Lois Micco. Did you talk to
E: Not yet. We want to.
G: She is one of those too, because I remember working with her.
E: We will try to see her later on. She was interviewed in the 1970s. So, I guess
we will step back and look at the education, talk about your education, some
more, because you said you started at the school year and then you went to
Okeechobee in 1954 or 1955.
G: Yes, something like that.
E: And you graduated from high school.
G: In Okeechobee, yes, in 1963, along with Jim Shore and Connie Weedman.
After that, I went on toBthey called it business school at the time, [but] I think it is
a college nowBHaskill [Haskill Indian Mission University, (somehow) connected
SEM 252 page 9
with religious organization Canterbury House at the University of Kansas]. They
called it Haskill Institute. I think, now, it is Haskill College. [It is] a four-year
E: Where was that?
G: Lawrence, Kansas.
E: I have talked with other people who have gone out there. You were there for four
G: Two, because I already took to be what I was going to be, a at the
office, secretary work. So, I did that and I came back, and I went to work for the
Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Seminole agency, with Billy Cypress, who was the
museum person. I worked for him. I worked there and lived in Hollywood from,
probably, 1966 to 1974. I had my kids then, and I did not really want to raise my
kids in the city so then I moved back up here.
E: So, you were working for the Bureau from 1966 to 1974. What kind of work was
G: It was with the education program. We took care of their higher education, the
boarding school kids, just education in general. At the time, BIA paid for the
school lunches, so I remember we used to send out requisitions or purchase
orders to pay those lunches for the school kids going to different schools in the
E: A lot of people were going east to boarding schools. A lot of people were going
to secondary schools, to places like Oklahoma That was something
that your program was overseeing.
SEM 252 page 10
G: Yes, that is what he was doing, and I worked for him.
E: So, when you were doing that work, how would you describe the overall interest
people had toward education when you were working for the Bureau in
Hollywood? By people, I guess I mean tribal members. At least,
about? Because it sounds like Billy had a strong commitment to getting people
G: Hm-mm. I think at the time, that was all there was to do, so they went to school.
That was the thing to do but, nowadays, I guess they have better interests now,
or more interests in something else. I can see that it is not their priority anymore.
E: Really? You also mentioned that when you were growing up, they insisted that
you go to school, you and your sisters.
G: Yes, we went. Some days, we would not want to go so we would just hide and
not catch the bus, and then we would get in trouble and stuff like that. But, they
wanted us to go. I guess it was good, but they forgot because I do not ever
remember them telling me...some people would say, well, they always told us, do
not forget your language, you know, to always teach your kids the language. My
grandma never told us that. I think she thought that it was always going to be
there. I mean, how could you forget it, if that is who you are? I think that is
maybe what she taught because I do not ever remember her saying that. My
kids know the language, but they do not speak it. I remember I used to tell my
kids a lot, we are going to have to write; that way, kids like you will learn it. I
remember my younger son used to say, but mom, where is that book? He would
always tell me and, to this day, we still do not have a book. Culture programs
SEM 252 page 11
have been in existence since 1979, but I have been roaming around working
here and there. Then, what was I doing? I was not working; then, they had job
application out, so then I applied and she called me and said, hey, you can come
to work. Nobody else applied or something, so I went to work.
E: Where was that?
G: Here, for the cultural education program.
E: That was in 1979?
G: No, this was way later. I have been there three years now. I was a bookkeeper
for, like, twenty years. After that, I worked for the hop mill. When I worked for
the hop mill, I came back from Hollywood. Then, I went back to work on the hop
mill, but things did not work out there either. So, I just left, and I was cooking for
somebody, doing things on my own because I like to cook anyway, so I was
doing that. Then, I saw this job announcement out with the cultural program, so I
applied and went to work. They wanted a teacher so I am thinking, you know,
everything in there; all I have to do is go in and teach because I know my
language, and the lessons and everything are there. Was I surprised. There
was not anything there. If they were there, I did not see them. I mean, if you
have been working with this program for twenty years...I am talking about 1979
because I helped start the thing. Louise Gopher and I wrote the alphabet, but
then we went on our own way doing something else. Well, Louise ran the
program. But, when I came to work, if they were there, I did not see. So, I did
the best I could in teaching the language. We took different training and stuff,
and we learned to write our own lessons, because I am not a teacher by trade
SEM 252 page 12
though I was a teacher in my house and to my kids and all that. So, I started
doing that, and I have been working for about three years now. I do not want to
be critical of anybody or anything, but they would sit there and wait for the kids to
come to the classes after they come home from school. The kids leave here
about seven to go to the Okeechobee schools, and they do not get back until
about four or four-thirty. Who wants to go to school when you come back? You
have been gone all day. All you want to do is come home and sleep or play or
whatever. I told them that we need to be part of their day at school, if we can.
So, Louise and I met with somebody in town, the principal, and she said, you
know, that sounds like a good idea. So, we got it set up and we tried it in May
one year, and it was over there for the last of the schools year. It seemed to
E: Going to the school language barriers?
G: Uh-huh. So, now, I think it is going on the third year, this year when I go back. I
go two days a week to kindergarten through fifth grade and then one day a week
to sixth through eighth. That is not much, but at least they are getting something.
Otherwise, they do not get anything. If there is a way we can work it out with
more, but I do not see how.
E: I am curious. You said that people said that their grandmothers would say to
them that it is important to learn the language and so forth...
G: Do not ever forget your language.
E: Right. You are going off to school, but you need to keep the language. But, you
said that your grandmother...
SEM 252 page 13
G: I do not remember her saying that. She could have said that to me, but I mean,
you are a Seminole, so that is what you are always going to be, and she probably
figured it was going to be there all the time. I do not know. I mean, maybe she
did, but I do not remember. I hear people say that, because you lose your
language, and you have lost it all. That does make sense, but I am not making
any excuses. My kids did not have a chance to know their language because I
had to work.
E: Yes. This is what I was going to ask you. You do not remember, specifically,
your grandmother saying to you, you have to take these steps to keep your
language. You went away to school...
G: Yes, because they were really pushing. At the time, that was the thing to do.
E: In the 1960s?
G: The thing to do was to go to school and learn the other, because that is what we
had to do to survive. They realized that.
E: Well, because obviously the outside world was here at that point. You had to
have those skills and the
G: Yes, in order to survive.
E: Then, you came back and worked in Hollywood with the education program from
1966 to 1974. You had your kids, and you decided you were going to move
back. You moved back up here to Brighton?
G: Hm-mm. My grandparents were going there, but then they died in 1965.
E: So, when you came back, where did you come back to?
G: I got my own place.
SEM 252 page 14
E: Now, you had kids. Was it having children or was it working with the education
program where you really start thinking about the language as an issue, where
you really started recognizing...?
G: I did not even recognize until, well...back in 1979, I am talking about, when we
started to do this. Probably, back then. That is probably when I did, because I
think my youngest son was born in 1977. And, I always worked. When I was in
Hollywood, it had to be a non-Indian speaking place daycare. They would stay
there, and then I would pick them up and I had them at night and on weekends.
If I had a mother who could have kept them for me and talked to them all the time
and stuff like that, or my grandmother, then they would have had a chance. They
do know some, and they know the cultural tradition and all that. I teach them all
that, our ways in English.
E: Could you pinpoint something in the 1970s that got you really involved with the
cultural program in 1979, to help get that going? Was there something, or a
series of events?
G: I am not sure. I guess because my kids were not learning. Maybe that is what it
was, or other kids were losing it too. I do not know what made me do that, but I
knew we needed it. So, we started working on that, and then we developed the
alphabets using some of the Oklahomans=.
E: Let me ask you about that. Was that among the first things that you did in 1979,
work on an alphabet?
G: Yes, because we know we wanted to write it because, then, it would be written.
To this day, some people will say, do not write it.
SEM 252 page 15
E: Why do they say that?
G: Because then it is easier to get it out to different people, and they do not really
want it to get out to the non-Indians, I guess. We had a workshop in Tampa a
couple of years ago in trying to hire linguists to help us do this. We were there,
and Miccosukees were there too. He was telling us that they always said, do not
ever write the language. I do not want to argue with him because that is what he
believes, and we probably believe that too. But, I am thinking ofBI do not know if
I should even say fiftyBmaybe twenty years from now. I mean, if it is not written
and it is not here, we are going to lose it for sure. But, if we could preserve it and
somehow keep on teaching it, maybe it will be around for a while. We may not
have speakers, but at least it will be here and it can be taught.
E: A language like Latin, existing in written form only I wonder, that is
twenty years ago where you recognized this and you started working towards this
alphabet. You said your model for the alphabet came partly from...?
G: From Oklahoma. Yes, we used theirs, but we use our own sounds. They speak
a little bit differently than we do. They say some things differently than we do.
E: I was talking with and he was joking that people correct him
G: Oh yes? They probably correct me too when I talk to them.
E: So, you came up with a functioning alphabet for this?
G: We think we did. So, I came back to work for them about three years ago. Then,
just within last year, we finally got it passed through the council that this is the
alphabet that we are going to go by, to be consistent in preserving and teaching.
SEM 252 page 16
If we do this over here with the cultural program and there is somebody else
over here writing it a different way, in order for us to preserve it and to be
consistent...I mean, you cannot preserve it over here like this and somebody...to
me, we had to be consistent. So, we finally got it to the tribal council, that this is
the way it is going to be written if you are going to write our language. We finally
got it passed, probably within the last six months, the beginning of the year
E: So, it is an official alphabet?
G: For the tribe, yes, as far as the Creek speakers.
E: Is it an alphabet that can work with Miccosukee language? Do you Miccosukee
G: A little bit. I can understand it. With their alphabet, it is not even that hard to
speak. It is almost like ours. Ours is going to be that way now too, since we
started working with the language stages, like double vowels with a long sound or
something like that, double E or O, or long O and E and stuff like that. I am not
sure. I think it is about the same. We have the same letters, but they sound
E: Okay. This linguist is somebody. You said you went to this meeting in Tampa?
G: Uh-huh. I met him when I went to the meeting in Mississippi. He is
from the University of Florida. He went there, I think, or he did some work there.
E: What was his name?
G: Dr. Julian Grendez.
E: Okay. I have heard his name. Somebody else mentioned him to me last week. I
SEM 252 page 17
do not know where he is now.
G: He lives in Horseshoe Bend or somewhere like that. I do not know where that is
at, but it is somewhere up there. We have him on contract to help us to write our
language. I mean, we can write it, but there are always little rules to follow and
we did not have that. Somebody said, well, maybe you do not need him, but we
E: But, he has the expertise in that kind of thing.
G: To help us, yes. I kept saying, I know I need a linguist, but I do not know for
E: So, in 1979, you said it was you and Louise Gopher. Who else was involved with
G: We always had a language committee or something, and it was [made up of] the
elders who were around at that time. I just remember Mannie Huff and Leona
Smith and, I guess, Alice Snow, but I cannot remember anybody else.
E: Was this a formal committee instituted by the tribal council?
G: No, we just got them from here. We still do that now. In fact, I had a meeting
last week but then so we did not have it. We have another one on
September 14, I think. It got rescheduled. We do not have the same people but
we have three speakers to come in, because there are a lot of ways to say
[things]. I mean, not lots, but people can say something a different way, and then
I will say it another way, and then we will just kind of hash it out and see how
most people say this one word or something. Then, if we have a problem with it,
SEM 252 page 18
we will bring it to them, and we will just kind of decide on which one we are going
E: Yes. That is a big project. That is a major project, it seems like.
G: It is, and you have to do all this plus you have to go teach. I think we need more
people to work.
E: You took a kind of a break from this. You were involved with it from the
G: I think I was a parent advisory committee chairperson or something at that time,
and that is why I was involved in it. I was already working somewhere else, but I
was involved in that.
E: Where were you working at the time, because you came back here in 1974?
G: Let us see. It was 1979. I am going to say I was working with the cattle
program. I was their secretary and bookkeeper for a long time. But, I was
involved with the parent advisory committee while my kids were in school. I still
work with them now because of my grandkids. I have one here who goes to
school, so I still work with them.
E: Is that a tribal committee, or is it organized through the school?
G: It is organized locally by the parents who have kids going into public schools.
E: It sounds like a good thing to do, so you can keep track of what their
G: Uh-huh, if there are problems on the bus or if there are problems in school, then
they can bring it up and talk about it and try to resolve the problem.
E: So, in 1974, when you came back, you started working with the cattle?
G: No, in 1974, I worked with the Hot Meals Program.
SEM 252 page 19
E: Was that new?
G: It was brand new. We started it. I was the first person who worked there. Lottie
Baxton and I were there, I remember, and I cannot remember who else, now.
Then, I left there and went to work...
E: Why did you start the Hot Meals?
G: I did not start it. The tribe did, and I got hired as a side manager or something
like that at the time.
E: And it was to provide meals for...?
G: Yes. It gave us something to do. We did a lot at the house.
E: And you worked there for some time?
G: Yes. It seems to me I went to work for the cattle program in 1975, so I did not
stay very long. I mean, it was a hassle to work with some people who were
running it. It was something else. It was like damned if you did and damned if
you did not, so I said, you all can have it. I left to work someplace else, and I
stayed there for about fifteen years. Then, I went back to Hollywood, stayed
there for five years, and then I came back.
E: You went back to Hollywood in the 1980s?
G: In the 1990s.
E: What did you do when you went back to Hollywood?
G: That is when I went to work for Billy at the museum. I worked there. I liked
working there but I just wanted to come back to Brighton, so I came on back.
E: So, you were working at the Hollywood museum, the ?
SEM 252 page 20
G: No. It was not there, then. It was like a planning office; the main office like he
has out there now was in Hollywood, so I worked for him there.
E: Okay. So then, it is only in the last three years you got involved again with the
cultural education, in this part of it.
E: I guess, in a sense, if you were working for Billy at the museum, you were doing
cultural education, but in a different Really briefly, go back to some of
this other stuff. How would you assess the interest that people show in language
when you first were getting involved with the culture, teaching in the late 1970s,
in 1979, and three years ago when you got back involved with it? Is the level of
awareness or level of concern among people in the Brighton community the
same, or is there a difference? Do people talk about it differently?
G: Yes. By then, I guess they realized that we needed to do something. But then, I
can see that they did not do anymore than anybody else did, because when I
came back three years ago, most of the kids do not speak their language
because their parents do not speak it, and the parents= parents probably do not
speak it. So, it has just gotten worse, if you are going to put it that way. Then, to
talk to some people, I mean, we could talk at like a parent meeting and stuff, if
they really want it, because we need it and all that. I have even talked to my
boss and I told her that we should have her come to the meeting. You know, if
we do not have the commitment from the whole community, it is going to be a
very slow process because we cannot do it by ourselves. We have to have help
from everybody. Meaning maybe we could have classes for the parents in the
SEM 252 page 21
evenings or whatever. You hear of these Hawaiians. They have an emerging
program. We go to different workshops, and they have emerging programs. The
kids, if they come to that school to learn the language or to keep their language,
then they have a commitment from the parents that they have to take the
courses, and they have it available to them, because then they can reinforce it at
home. They can all be learning together and stuff like that. I am not saying, do it
like that but, you know, we need to do something.
E: That is a model that might work. When you say Hawaiians, you have come into
contact through these workshops with other people who are facing similar issues.
G: Uh-huh. I have seen Hawaiians out in a couple of places, and it sounds like it is
a good thing. We never went and saw it or anything.
E: Do you think there is interest here for the parents? Do you think the parents are
interested in doing this?
G: Well, a couple of people, maybe more than that now, said, when are you going to
start teaching it to the adults? And I told them, oh, we will. I think one of the
board representatives does not speak any at all because his mother is a non-
tribal member, and he was asking me the other day when we were going to start
teaching it to adults. He said, I will come. I said, I know your uncle said he
would come too. But, we have not done that. I guess we need to sit down and
adjust that, but it is like we cannot do all that because there is only just me and
this other lady. She teaches the preschool at the Head Start in nursery, and I go
E: Is that Louise?
SEM 252 page 22
G: No, Jenny Shore. She has been there since 1979, too.
E: I hope to talk with her We are not going to be able to see her
E: So, the problem, it sounds like, has gotten worse, the language problem since
G: To me, it has. I mean, not worse, but they are not speaking it.
E: But, it also sounds like maybe awareness or at least concern about it has grown.
Is that correct?
G: If they are concerned about it, they are not doing anything about it. That is what I
am saying. But, to talk to some parents and stuff, I say, yes, you need to keep
doing what you are doing. Maybe, we need to offer them classes.
E: Well, that is something else that came up in another interview. Somebody was
saying that, well, the kids are really enthusiastic about it in the schools.
G: Yes, they are because it is new to them.
E: Yes, that is what they were saying. Then, they go home, and the problem is they
go home and they cannot speak it with the parents because English gets spoken
at home. I am just curious. Are there non-Indians at the school that are
interested in learning Creek at all?
G: I do not know.
E: That has not come up?
G: No, because they always tell us not to teach it to anybody else but our kids.
E: Here, they tell you that.
G: Yes, tribal council or whatever, so that is not an issue. But, there are some non-
SEM 252 page 23
tribal member who live out there, and they go to that school. They come in with
the rest of the kids, and we just let go ahead and let them stay in there instead of
hurting their feelings. It is not worth all that, so we go ahead and teach them.
E: Because, in a sense, they are part of the community.
G: Yes, so we teach those.
E: Okay. I am going to back up here and try to work back through some of the
questions on the questionnaire. You received a lot of encouragement to receive
an education. Did your parents go to school?
G: My father and mother? No. My father might have gone to night school or
something, but I do not think so, because I know he did not read. He did not
read or write. My mother did not [either].
E: And your grandparents?
G: No, they did not. But, my grandfather, I mean, they used him for guides, like
hunting and stuff.
E: The white people did?
G: Yes. So, he spoke pretty well. I used to see him sitting there. He could get a lot
of magazines, so he would sit there and read, sound them out and try to read. I
do not know how he did that but, obviously, he had contact with a lot of non-
Indians [so] that he could do that.
E: Interesting, mostly through indignity, his contacts which would beat him.
G: Uh-huh. But, my grandma could not write or read. She did not understand that it
would be around now. She spoke only her language.
E: And that they spoke here, that was an English language medium.
SEM 252 page 24
G: Yes, that is all it was. They did not have any speakers that worked there, except
there was a cook there. I do not think they said to keep your language either. I
do not remember, but some people say, they always said do not speak and all
that, but I do not remember them doing that. So, I think they were okay in that.
We could speak our language, but they have taught us the English now.
E: Down at Big Cypress now, they have this school. Well, for some time now, they
have had this school, the Ahfachkee school, and they do a culture program there
they do some. I have not actually talked with people, teachers, yet
because I have not been able to arrange meetings, but it sounds like they are
interested in doing language and culture.
G: Hm-mm, and they have it in their thing.
E: How do you think about that? Do you think that is a good things or, maybe, a
G: I think that is a good setting. You can do a lot of things if you have your own
school and are there all day. I mean, that is the kind of setting we would need
here, but I do not think that will ever happen here. But, they have a good setting
there, as far as the language and the whole culture. I do not really do culture. I
mean, I do not sit there and say, you know that we are supposed to do this or not
do this and that. Whatever I was taught by my grandmother, that was her way,
and maybe their=s is not that way. Like I said earlier, if they ask me something, I
will give them a basic answer, and I do not elaborate on it.
E: That is interesting
G: Yes, because that was our clan, and that is how she taught us. Probably, she
SEM 252 page 25
had a different way, you know, they taught her different. It is probably all about
the same but, you know, I try not to do that because I do not want them to go
home and say, this is what she said. I do not want them to do that. If they do not
know, they might get confused and think I am telling all kinds of wrong things and
different things. Some people will not send their kids to it because they say we
are teaching them...I do not know what it is but, you know, it is like a preacher=s
daughter, or sending the kids to us because of it. That does not bother me
because it is their loss, not mine. I do not know what it is. I do not know what
they call us. Voodoo or something. I do not know.
E: It kind of does not sound like your grandmother was teaching you that way about
things cultural, that she would lecture you and say, here is the correct way to do
it but, almost, you would learn by example. And so, going to a school and telling
people, this is the correct way to do something cultural...
G: My way may not be their way. But, I taught my kids the way my grandma taught
me. Then, sometimes they say, why? And I say, why? Because my grandma
never told us why and, god forbid, do not ask her why. She said, I guess I should
know what I am talking about so, you know, they never really told you why, and
you did not ask why. Just take my word for it, and stuff like that.
E: Do you think there are differences by clan in cultural knowledge?
G: I think so, yes.
E: Were your grandparents involved with missionaries or a Christian church at all?
E: They did not get involved or go to church?
SEM 252 page 26
G: Occasionally, maybe, but not every Sunday and all that, they did not. I
remember they told us not to go, so we never did go. We used to sneak and go.
Then, they got kind of lax later, but then we were not really that active.
E: Why did they tell you not to go? Do you have any idea?
G: Because that was not our way.
E: Then, why would you... [End of Side 1, Tape A.] ... lot of the people you grew up
with then, I guess it was to see where they were going.
G: Just my sisters. Our neighbors were a couple of hammocks away or something
[from] where we lived. We did not really mingle with other people, if I can
remember. Of course, you just did not do those things.
E: What do you mean?
G: You know, like go play with somebody over here. I mean, the way we were
brought up, you did not really play. Your time had to spent meaningfully, like
washing clothes or cooking. There were different things, like working in the
garden. I mean, you did not waste your time. You just did not lay around. The
sun come up, and you had to be up.
E: Doing things.
G: Yes. You just did not lay around unless you were sick or something. That is how
we were brought up.
E: And you say your neighbors were out a little farther away.
G: Uh-huh, and I remember they would come visit or something, but I hardly
remember us ever going to visit anybody. I remember there were a lot of people
who always coming to see my grandparents, and we always had visitors.
SEM 252 page 27
E: Were there a lot of kids there where you were growing up, though? Was your
grandmother or your grandfather your mother while you were real young? There
were five of you, and you said your aunt, at one time, was there too.
E: And she had kids?
G: No, just my mother had kids. My grandmother had only two daughters, and my
mother was the one who had kids.
E: Wow, so it was just the five of you kids there.
G: Uh-huh, six kids. Four sisters and one brother and me. That is six. So, we kind
of played at times, but I remember you just had to be doing something all the
time. But, if we did something, I remember it was building a little chickee or
doing stuff like that.
E: So, a lot of time was spent doing chores, then.
G: Yes, doing chores. Working in the garden was a chore because my grandfather
had a big old garden. He would plant corn every year when you were supposed
to, and he would always sweet potatoes growing.
E: Personal stuff. This was your vegetable garden.
G: Yes. The corn, you would have to get the ground ready and then plant it and then
take care of them until you get the corn off of it. Then, you let them stay on there
until they get hard. Then, you take those down and when they get dry, then you
have to take off those kernels and then prepare it. So, that is a year-round job, it
seemed. We were busy doing all of that.
E: Especially the spring, probably, weeding and that kind of stuff.
SEM 252 page 28
G: Yes, and then the potatoes were always there, it seemed like, so we would
always be digging those out, the sweet potatoes that he grew. So, we were
E: So, when you sneak off with your brothers and sisters, to church or something...
E: I guess I am wondering about other kids who were, maybe, off in those other
camps that were farther away. Were they getting involved with church at all?
Was church a big deal in the broader community, that you know of, or was it
G: I do not remember, but there were kids there when I used to go. I used to play
with them when we went to church, because we did not stay in the church. We
just kind of played outside. Get away from the monotony and go to
E: Was there any kind of division between those people who were going to church
and those people who were not, or was that really not an issue?
G: I think at one point it was, but it was kind of past that stage when I realized it. I
think the missionaries came in the 1930s, and I have my theory about them too.
I was asking one of the medicine men last week when he was speaking at our
conference, and I was asking him about when the missionaries came to save us.
I remember one of the older guys talking, like, you cannot do your medicine and
you cannot do your corn dances because that is not the way to get to heaven.
You know, the only way to go was to go to church and to do this and this, read
the Bible and all that. Since our elders could not read, they had to rely on what
SEM 252 page 29
these people told them.
E: Who were these people who were telling them that?
G: The missionaries from Oklahoma, or wherever they came from.
E: So, they were Indians
G: Yes, they came to save us or help us or something, but I always hated that they
got them confused, because in the end, I have seen them go back to using
medicine, maybe not to go to Corn Dance, but I have seen them go back to using
Indian medicine before they died.
E: These people who initially turned to the church?
G: Yes, and they give up all this other stuff. But, they realized that they need this,
so then they went back to doing it, using Indian medicine before they died.
E: That is interesting.
G: That is another story in itself. Maybe, it was not even like that but, to me, that is
the way I see it, because if you come tell me something and if I cannot read, I am
going to have to rely on you, that what you are telling me is the Bible. I think to
tell them to give up their Indian medicine...I mean, they did not, but they did.
They quit. I mean, they did not believe it anymore or something. Some of them
are still that way, but it could be just an excuse. I do not know. But, that is them.
To me, I believe they can go hand in hand. That is the way I believe.
E: They can.
G: Because how can you give up being a Seminole because you want to be this. I
mean, you are still going to be that even if you go to church. That is your way. I
believe you can mix it, you know.
SEM 252 page 30
E: And a lot of people seem to think that. It seems to
G: Yes, because our tradition, we just did not think it up fifty years ago. It has been
here since year one. That is the way that I see it.
E: Do most people see it that way today? I get the impression that most people do.
I get the impression that what you are describing sounds like something, maybe,
happening back then, about this...you have to give up the medicines and you
have to give up these other things.
G: Hm-mm, because you are worshiping God now. Just like month, my sister was
telling me, well, I do not worship those. It was something about Corn Dance and
she said, since I worship God now, I do not do those things. I said, where are
you coming from? I said, but that is the way you believe; that is fine. I said, but I
do not believe that way. We just left it at that. I did not want to argue with her.
E: So, that still is a kind of discussion that people have.
G: Yes, that is her. Of course, she said, you are not supposed to worship more than
one God or something. I do not know. I just told her, whatever.
E: I was reading something last night that was talking about religion. It used
Christianity as an example of attempts to bring together contradictory things.
The Trinity is a very good example of that contradiction that is brought together,
through a simple belief that there is this powerful and these spirit forces and so
forth, and the forgiven Son, really fairly different entities that are talked about as
being So, maybe trying to weave the Green Corn Dance together
with Christianity is not such a problem.
G: Yes. I do not know, but I could still always be that way.
SEM 252 page 31
E: I know that the Green Corn Dances are still held annually. Do you attend those?
G: Hm-mm [yes].
E: I know they are at different places. They move with the season, with the Green
G: Move? No, we do not move. We stay in one place.
E: Well, I mean there are different dances at different places.
G: Okay, like and Big Cypress. Yes. We had ours back in June.
E: Do you go to the different ones?
G: No, one is enough. We can go visit. I used to, but now it is just getting to be too
hard. It is too hot and a lot of work. I just go to that one up here, in Osceola
County or Indian River County, at Yeehaw Junction. I go to that one. I have
been going all my life, I think.
E: Who runs them? Is there an individual who runs the Green Corn Dance, or is it a
series of people who organize it and keep it going?
G: They have their own ways. That is another thing in itself, so I do not really want
to talk about that. We have our own medicine men. We used to have, like,
Frank Shaw and Oscar Hall and Sam Jones. I remember all of them, but now
they are gone. Then, we did not have anybody, so we had to use Sonny Billie
there for a while but now he has trained one of the guys from here. So, we have
our own now.
E: Is he a full medicine man, or is he a carrier?
G: He is a carrier. So, we have him now. I do not remember seeing Sonny Billie out
SEM 252 page 32
there this year, so maybe he was not there.
E: I do not mean to ask you really specific things about this but just to get a general
idea of the purpose of the Corn Dance, is there a way you could summarize what
the purpose of it is for an outsider like me?
G: That goes way back to the Corn Lady.
E: That is the origin of the story=s group.
G: Yes, that is how the corn came about, and the men need to cleanse their bodies.
G: Yes, purification.
E: And it involved clans and teaching. It seems a lot of people have talked about it
in terms of it seems to be a place where tradition is taught to the younger
G: It probably was [for] years, but...do you mean in general, like getting together to
talk about things?
E: Yes. Well, see, I have not attended so I do not really know. My understanding is
that people gather with different clans, with their clan, and that it is an opportunity
for elders in the clan to explain the meanings of the ceremonyBI am just telling
you what I know as an outsiderBand also more general cultural issues that
otherwise people might not have a chance to hear in their daily lives the rest of
the year. Is that inaccurate?
G: It can be, but I am just thinking about myself. We go out there, and we know
what we have to do when we get out there. So, that is what we do. We stay out
there. I used to dance all the time, but I do not dance anymore. My kids do that.
SEM 252 page 33
E: They dance?
G: And we cook and just do what we have to do and just stay out there. You learn a
lot of things, like my son learned by hearing the songs and different ways they do
things and stuff like that. That is how you learn. I mean, you can only tell them
so much so then, by seeing, since he was a little boy, he knows how to lead and
sing and all that now.
E: Is there traditional meaning or cultural meaning passed in the form of the dance
and in the songs in the dance which is different than how they would get it in
school, for example?
G: I am not sure. It is just different dances that they do. One of the ladies not to
long ago was telling that, well, this guy told me that they are not even supposed
to drink and they never did and they did what they had to do and all that,
because they always say we just go out there to party or something. They do
drink out there. In Oklahoma, I know they do not because I have been to their=s,
and I think at the one in Big Cypress, they do not. So, that is what she was
telling me and I said, oh no, either you do now know and he is lying to you. I
said, I can only say that because of my grandparents. They told. I said, I am not
condoning any drinking because I do not drink myself; I used to. But I told her,
my grandparents used to tell me that all the rest of the year they were busy
surviving, like hunting and finding clothing and everything. You know, they were
busy all year but, during that time, they got together and they danced and they
played long and, if they wanted to drink, they drank but they still did what they
had to do, and they always used to tell me that. So, nobody can tell me that they
SEM 252 page 34
never did drink. I am not saying that it is a good thing but, you know, they did
way back then. So, I do not know where he is coming from telling me that.
E: So, you went in Oklahoma when you were out at school? You went to dances up
G: No. I went three or four years ago out there to Corn Dance.
E: How did that come about?
G: Do you know Sonny Billie?
E: I know of him.
G: Okay. I think he was trying to get his dance ground out in Big Cypress, and
maybe he was wanting to see how it is done, because they do not drink when
they do their=s up there. Maybe that was why. I do not know, but he was taking
a group up there and we were asked if we wanted to go. So, we went up there.
We got there on a Thursday, and we stayed Saturday and Sunday. We cooked,
and we participated in the dances and everything. That is how I got to go. We
always wanted to go back to visit, but it is around the fourth of July and we are
just getting over ours, so we never went back. But, I think that is what he was
doing, seeing how they do it. I do not know what it was but, anyway, he had a
group going and they asked if we wanted to go, so we went. My husband and
my daughter and my granddaughter went that time.
E: Good. So, was it similar? Was the form something that looked like the form that
you are used to and dances you attended down here?
G: Yes, it is similar, and the songs are similar. But, they have been going a long
time, and it changes with time. When I came back, my younger son was asking
SEM 252 page 35
me, was it the same as ours? And I said, no, not really. And he said, why not?
We are all the same, aren=t we? Because that is all he knows. I do not know
how he says it, but that is church to me; that is it because that is all I know, and I
do not if that is good or bad.
E: Is that you saying that, or is that your son saying that?
G: My son is saying that. You know, he does not need this over here because he
has that. But, he is married to a non-Indian, so I do not know what will happen.
Anyway, he asked me and I told him, it is similar, but it is not quite the same. I
am not saying they are wrong and we are right. It is not that. It is just different.
So, it was an experience. I can say one thing for them: they dance all night long.
I mean, they continuously dance, and they are not drinking; they are doing it
because they want to.
E: That is interesting. But here, it stops at night?
G: Yes, they drink, but they dance all night too. Sometimes, you might have to wait
a while because somebody is going to lead or something, but at this one in
Oklahoma, they just go and go and go all night. But then, they do not start until
midnight. I take that back. Yes, that is right. Like, our last night, we dance all
night from sundown to sunup. At theirs, they dance all night, but they do not start
until about eleven o=clock in the evening.
E: And they go all into the next...?
G: Hm-mm, but they continue to dance all night.
E: And your son says that this is like church to him?
G: Hm-mm [yes].
SEM 252 page 36
E: That is interesting.
G: I know. He said, that is all I know, and that is it.
E: So, he is really adamant about this as the...
G: Uh-huh, this is the way to go.
E: Do you think that is characteristic of people of his generation, or is he kind of
unique in that way?
G: I think he is just unique, because somebody his age does not really lead the
dances or anything. That is sad becauseBhere I go even though I said I was not
going to do thisBlike, the Panther Clan is the one that is supposed to do all of
these kind of things, and they do not, not at my son=s generation. He is twenty.
Maybe they think it, but they do not act it. It is sad because if they do not do it...
E: Who is going to do it?
G: So, my son is trying to teach these other guys who are his age, and he teaches
them how to read and stuff.
E: And he is Snake Clan.
G: Hm-mm. I think, maybe, he gets it from my brother, the Andrew Jackson. He
has learned all those things on his own. I mean, we did not tell him to do all that.
He took it upon himself. He is a lawyer now. But, he has learned all of his
E: Where is he?
G: He is here. But, he has been teaching him and, I remember, he even paid some
things for him so he could learn to sing. So, my brother has taught him a lot. He
is trying to be like my brother, I think, or something. I do not know what it is.
SEM 252 page 37
E: That is really interesting. Things like that are pretty positive statements.
G: Like I said, he is married to a non-Indian, so...
E: Does she go?
E: That is interesting because she has no clan.
G: I know. She does not really need to go, but she goes and takes the little kids out
E: Do they stay with you?
G: Yes, we just kind of put up with her around there but I think, as time goes on, she
probably will not, because I know my brother is married to a non-Indian too. She
would always come, and we would always fuss about it but we did not say
anything to her. But now, she does not go, even when my brother goes out
there. After a while, I think they realize that it is not their thing. Like, my
grandkids do not have a clan.
E: They do not?
G: Yes. It is sad, but it is
E: Can they take your clan?
G: No. They follow their mother, and their mother does not have one.
E: So, the only way they could have a clan is if their male married into...
G: If they married back into the tribe, then their kids could have a clan. But, they will
never have one. He knows all that. You tell them everything, and then they still
end up that way. Then, they know what they get into.
E: Yes. He is not the first either, is he?
SEM 252 page 38
E: We are covering a lot of ground. This moves away a little bit from the dance.
Maybe at some point later, we can talk more about that on some other occasion.
Looking at the situation today, the late 1990s, what would you say are the
biggest health issues that people face in the Brighton community or in the
G: Health issues? Obesity. Diabetes. I think those are the main things.
E: Yes. Do you think there are adequate facilities or resources for people to deal
with those issues?
G: Yes. I go and I know what I have to do to get my sugar down, but I do not do it.
Therefore, I stay fat. If I got on a diet, I could probably lose the weight and all
that. You know, it is there; it is just me.
E: So, things are there.
E: Are those issues different than they were, say, a generation ago, or when you
were growing up?
G: Yes, because if my grandmother get sick, we did not take her to town to a doctor.
She went and saw a medicine man, and he did what he had to do. And I guess
she got better from it. I do not know, but we were a lot the same way. My
grandmother was a medicine person herself, so she would take care of us that
E: Did she teach you medicines?
G: The plants, but I did not learn any medicine songs from her. Maybe my sisters
SEM 252 page 39
did. I do not know.
E: So, she treated other people also?
E: People would come to her, and she not only knew the plants but she knew the
G: Yes, she did.
E: Something I come across in writing...people talk about medicine men. So, what
is the difference between a medicine man and somebody like your grandmother?
Or was that just a translation problem?
G: No. I think when you are talking about the medicine men, they go through
extensive training, and my grandmother would probably never be equal to them.
It is only allowed, probably, just for male.
E: That law of
G: Yes. Some people ask me some things and I say, well, they probably know but I
do not. It is probably something that they teach them, the men. I do not think
she could be equal to the medicine man. In her own way, she is probably is like
a medicine woman. I do not know what I am trying to say. If some people would
come and get her or she would go and I would go with her and stuff like that, to
make medicine and stuff.
E: To treat people?
G: Yes. So, she knew quite a bit.
E: Were there particular types of ailments that she would treat that, maybe,
medicine men would not treat?
SEM 252 page 40
G: I want to say, maybe, for women or babies. I am not sure because when she
was active, I was with her, but that was a long time ago. So, I do not really
remember what all she did.
E: Now, you say you know...she taught you some of the plants and that kind of
thing, maybe not the songs but the plants. Is it pretty common for people to use
herbal medicines or Indian medicines, plants, and that kind of thing?
Or use a combination of both ways to treat ailments?
G: Yes. One of my friends one saying when you go to the doctor and he cannot
figure out what is wrong with you, that is the only reason to go to the medicine
E: That indicates it is good to start with the doctor and then go to Try
G: Yes, because if I decided to get Indian medicine, that means I am going to have
to get away from here. I have to go somewhere and go find one. So, you try
something first. If that does not work, then you have to decide, well, I have to
take a day off and go get me some medicine from this person out here or
E: It takes a lot more effort.
E: Are there any specific ailments or specific things that people would, today, have
to go get treated by and Indian doctor where they could not get treatment, where
there first option would be to go to a medicine man?
G: Probably people who drink a lot.
SEM 252 page 41
E: I have read about that.
G: Yes. They can almost go get that kind of medicine, and they will be off for a
while, four months and four moons or something. Yes, I used to with
my husband, but I do not do that anymore. It seems like when he is off, not
drinking, he is the meanest person in the world because he is just dry drunk
because he is needing it. Then, when he gets on, then he goes on a binge for
six months or whatever. So I say, I am not doing anymore; if you want it, you go
get it yourself. Why should I put myself in that kind of situation? So, I do not
bother with it anymore. He still drinks, but that is one of the things that we do.
E: I have read about that. Where I read about it was somebody who grew up here
was doing a study just on that a couple of years ago, named She
translated it as cold turkey medicine or something like that. I do not know if that
G: I think that is what it is. It is not good, but if you could do it for a longer period of
time...but if it is just for four moons, they are just counting the moons or looking at
the calendar until they can get off.
E: And that, of course, it not something you are going to get from clinic.
G: But it is a sure way to stop. But, you have to have the respect for the medicine in
order to stop. I have seen people take it, and then they are back to drinking
again the next week, so there is no respect there. Because that is all it takes to
get off. They do not cut your throat or nothing so, you know, you just have to
respect the medicine.
E: So, it is not just in the medicine that does it. It is more of how somebody acts
SEM 252 page 42
with it or, as you say, respects the medicine.
G: Yes, you have to the respect for the medicine.
E: That is interesting. And it has a relationship with feelings, too. She was writing
about that, that this is the same medicine that people take after a death.
G: I am not sure, but I think the restrictions are the same.
E: About the health situation, we kind of went to talking about medicines but was
diabetes an issue for your grandparents= situation?
G: I do not even know. When my grandmother died, I do not think they knew what
she died of. So, I do not know.
E: It is hard to say.
G: Yes. I think my grandfather just died. They said his heart quit beating.
E: Yes, my grandmother just died. People used to just die.
G: Yes, because I went to go see him one day, and I found him in his bed, dead.
So, you know, he just laid down, and that was it.
E: Yes, people used to die of old age, and people used to die of this and that.
G: But I remember my grandmother used to have a pain in the back of her head,
and there was this one medicine man who she would go to and he would put a
whole in the back of her head to take the bad blood out and stuff. I was thinking
later, like now, he might have done her more harm than good but then who
knows? But, that is what they believed, and that is what they did.
E: Were you around when he did that? Or did you hear about it?
G: No, I was there. I did not see him do it but that is what he did, and he did not do
it just once. She would say, well, it is not getting any better so I need to go back
SEM 252 page 43
to him so he can do it again.
E: Did it help temporarily for her?
G: I do not know. She thought it did.
E: Of course, that is very common. People all over...
G: Like acupuncture.
E: Acupuncture. Bleeding, to take out bad blood.
G: Uh-huh, but they know to do that.
E: Okay. I am going to shift again. There are a couple of abrupt changes in these
questions, and I apologize for that. It can be kind of rough sometimes. Looking
at the economic situation that is around today in the community and in the tribe
more generally, what major economic practices are people engaged in today?
G: What economic practices? None.
G: They are out laying around waiting on their dividends.
E: Well, you are not. You say you do the education part time, or would you say that
is your primary occupation?
G: My gaming place is primary. My heart is at culture education.
E: Your paycheck is come from...?
G: Yes. They come from both places, but the reason I got the second job at gaming
is they were not paying me anything over here. Like anybody else, I need it. I
mean, I have grandkids, and I want to do stuff with my grandkids and buy stuff for
grandkids. My kids were already out of school and I always said, I am going to
do what I want to do when my kids all get out of school and get on their own. So
SEM 252 page 44
I just said, well, I am going to work my life away, I guess. But, like I said, my
heart is over in the culture program.
E: But, you do five days a week over at this ?
G: Hm-mm, and five days over in cultural if I can, but sometimes I will do three or
four. That is my part time. That is what I do. I get my dividends, but you cannot
say... I mean, I would like to think it is going to be there forever, but you cannot
say that. I would like to see it stop for at least six months, just to see what these
people do who do not even work or who do not even try to get out of bed until
noontime and go to town and eat and come back.
E: And you are working these two jobs.
G: Uh-huh. They probably think I am crazy. I do not know. I think they taught me
well when they said, do something with your time.
E: Who taught you that?
G: My grandma. I do not even watch TV that much because I think I am wasting
time. I could be doing this. I could be doing that. But, that does not go for my
daughter. She will sleep all day if you let her. She did all day with me, or she
did. When she does come here and lay around and sleep, I tell her, you have to
get up; you have a baby to take care of, and stuff like that.
E: She has children?
G: She has one. That is enough. And my son has two.
E: I made a joke about the paycheck, and you said, well, it comes from the same
place. So, the culture program and the BINGO, it is the same...?
G: Both of them are from the tribal council. But, let me elaborate on that. At the
SEM 252 page 45
culture, I think they could pay us more because what we know and what we try to
teach, I do not care if I go to Harvard, they are not going to be able to teach me
what I know already, as far as the culture or the history. As far as I am
concerned, I should have a Ph.D. You know, the people who know our language
and the culture and try to teach it. Anyway, that is what I have been teaching
about. But, I knew how much they paid when I went to work, so I guess that is
part of what they are telling me. I thought about leaving but, then, I had asked for
this linguist, to see if we could work with a linguist, and it took them two years to
get him so now I feel like I have to stay and work with him. I think he is on
contract for two years and, maybe, I will quit then. I do not want to, but I just
cannot be working two jobs. I said I was going to quit in the summer, [but] I have
E: Quit the culture?
G: Yes, the culture. I do not want to quit the culture, but I am just kind of caught
between a rock and a hard place.
E: Yes, you said that is where your heart is.
G: My heart is there. I mean, somebody needs to do what I am doing. I am not
saying I am doing a whole lot but, to me, more than what has happened already
since 1979. I feel like we have done more within the last two or three years.
E: I get the impression. It sounds like it is really on a roll.
G: Yes, because my kids at the elementary school, there are fifty-five who I teach
twice a week, fifty-five or more, and then maybe thirty at the junior high. So, that
is a lot of kids, when you think about it, for a whole year, or reach that many
SEM 252 page 46
E: And the subject is crucial.
G: Yes. You talk to the parents, and they seem to think so. Like I told her before,
we need to get a community meeting and see what everybody thinks about it.
Maybe they think, well, just do not worry about it; just let it go.
E: Do you actually think that would be something that people would say?
G: I do not think so but if we could get the backing from the community, I am
thinking we could get more money to hire more people, even if we have to train
the non-speakers to teach it or whatever.
E: This linguist, does he learn to speak it or is he often more with the grammar and
writing kind of things?
G: Yes, grammar and writing kind of things. I think he gets it from everybody else=s
study, and then he comes and works with us.
E: And he is on a two-year contract that began recently?
G: Yes, he just started, probably, February or March. I think it is about two years
when we will get done with him. In the end, we are supposed to have a
E: All in Creek? Do you call it Creek or Muskogee?
G: I call it Creek. I think some people call it Muskogee, but you think about
Oklahoma when you say Muskogee.
E: Yes. Well, that will be important, to have a dictionary people can go to.
G: Uh-huh, because Oklahomans have that.
E: They do?
SEM 252 page 47
G: Yes, I think. We look at it sometimes.
E: Is it useful?
G: Uh-huh, especially when you forget to say something. You have forgotten, so
then you look it up and say, let us see what the Oklahomans see, and then get it
from there. Sometimes, we can call my sister or somebody, and we will get the
word. We were looking for how to say dragonfly one day, and I could not think of
it. But, I think I called my sister, and she told us.
E: I saw it in the newspaper this last time. It had a picture of a dragonfly. I cannot
remember what it was called.
G: I think in Miccosukee, probably.
E: Probably in Miccosukee.
G: Yes, because she is always putting those in there and, see, we are supposed to
put stuff in there too but, I mean, there are only so many things you can do.
E: You said she is always putting stuff in there. Who is that?
G: The editor of that paper, Virginia Mitchell. She speaks Miccosukee, but she
writes hers long, the long way, the way it sounds like
E: That is the long way?
G: Hm-mm [yes], because our -th sound is -r, the way we write it. We have -r for the
E: And there are a lot of sounds, of course, that are not in English at all, that are not
G: I know, yes.
E: Okay. So, you are doing these two things for a living, and you are saying that
SEM 252 page 48
there are a lot of people who are getting the dividends and that kind of thing.
And, obviously, they are getting dividends because of things, like where you are
doing your job, there is this new kind of money coming in.
G: Yes, the gaming.
E: What about the cattle industry? You used to work for the cattle...
G: Hm-mm. We have cattle, but we do not make money off of them either. The
prices are not good. I mean, everything has to be just right for you to have a
good calf crop and, in order to make money, you have to have a good calf crop,
and that has not been happening.
E: For anybody?
G: Well, I know for us. And you have to pay fees to the tribe and all that.
E: For land usage?
G: Hm-mm, use of the bulls. Then, there is a person who takes care of them, so
you pay fees for that, to take care of the program.
E: How did you get into the cattle business?
G: We bought our own. I forget when that was, maybe back in 1970 or something.
We started in Big Cypress because we lived in Hollywood then. When we moved
up here, then we moved our cattle to Brighton.
E: So, it is not something you inherited, but you made a decision to get involved
E: You and your husband?
G: Then, when my father died, we got some of his and, then, when his father died,
SEM 252 page 49
we got some of his.
E: So, they had cattle?
E: Did they acquire them about the same time, in the early 1970s?
G: No, they had theirs since...Stanley probably told you all about when they brought
the cows in from New Mexico or somewhere. I think that my father and my
husbands father had them since then.
E: Oh, they were involved...?
E: You say it is not as profitable as it once was?
G: No, I do not think it is. I think it is like that nationwide. The prices have not been
good for, it seems like, about five years now, or longer. Maybe some people
make money, but we have not in a long time, and you have to keep continuously
spending money to take care of them and feed them and all that.
E: Yes. It sounds like there are a bunch of women who are cattle owners and
involved in the business, in the cattle industry, you and others.
E: Louise, for example. Is your participation or...women in general, do they
participate differently than men in the cattle business?
G: I should hope so. I run the Yes, it is like anything else. I do not know
if you have sensed it or have seen it but, whatever goes on in my family or in a
Seminole family, it seems like it has to be initiated by a woman. I know in my
family, it is. It is like he can go move the cows by himself but if he wants to work,
SEM 252 page 50
then he says, well, I need to do this; when can we do this? You know? Then, I
have to tell him, well, whenever you can get it done. Because he thinks I have to
cook lunch, and that means I have to get off of work and stuff like that. We all
kind of work together. When we start marking them, I know I go out there and
mark the cows myself.
E: Yes? What does that involve?
G: Well, somebody has to throw it down, and I go out there and mark the cow,
cutting the ears. I do it myself, so...
E: So, you are right out there with them doing it, working. When you were growing
up, your dad had cattle?
G: Yes, but we were not really involved with my dad when we were growing up?
E: Just in cattle or in general?
G: In general, we were not involved with him because when my mother died, then
he remarried, and he had his own other step-kids. He took care of them, and my
grandparents took care of us. My grandmother wanted it that way. She did not
want us to have anything to do with him. So, I do not know what happened
E: What clan was he in?
G: He was Bird Clan.
E: I have a question here that I want to ask about the overall status of women in the
last thirty years, the last generation. It sounds like you have a whole range of
experiences. Do you think the status of women in the Brighton community, or in
the Seminole tribe more generally, has changed?
SEM 252 page 51
G: I believe so. I think we realize nowBI always want to sayBthat we run everything.
E: Yes, you mentioned that. [End of Side 2, Tape A.]
G: They did not want any women sitting on the cattle committee. It should be the
men...I used to hear them say that. I sit on the cattle committee now, because
they know who has a big mouth and they know who knows what is going on.
E: Who was saying [that]? I do not mean names, I guess. The people who were
saying, we do not women on the cattle...
G: Jones was one of them. I used to live with him. It is like, the women did
not have any say-so.
E: Why was that?
G: Well, because he is married to a non-tribal member. Maybe she is like that, but
we are not. We run everything, because in our tradition, our place is ours. My
house is mine. Back then, it was like a fire. Your fire at your home, that was
yours. It was not his. He was the provider. So, now, like if they get divorced, he
wants the house and all that. Uh-huh [no], that is not going to work with me.
That is my house. If I get divorced, he is gone. That is just the way it is with me.
E: That is how you grew up. You grew up in your grandmothers place.
G: Yes. And the cattle, I keep them too. The laws are not written that way, but my
E: The laws...you mean the United States=...
G: Hm-mm [yes]. It is not written for us because we have our own.
E: That is interesting. I am just thinking out loud but, when the cattle were brought
in the from the Southwest, they were brought in by government people. They
SEM 252 page 52
probably brought in people from other parts of the county who worked cattle and,
probably, from other parts of Florida, non-Indians, who had their own ways of
doing things, to talk to the men. [They probably] gave them to the men and said,
here is how you do things. Do you think that took place?
G: I believe so because I think they had a man who helped them with the cattle. I
do not know when that started, but I know they were around for a while to help
with that. We still have him, but the tribe has contracted with the Bureau of
Indian Affairs to run that part. So, there is a man who works for the tribe now
who oversees the cattle operations, [and] they did back then. I guess they just
needed a place to send those starving cattle in the area, so I guess that is why
they sent them here. I do not know the whole story behind that.
E: But, they probably did not go to women and say, you are in charge of things; how
would you like some cattle?
G: No, I do not think so. I think the men met, [but] I do not know how they became
the owners. It seems like the Indian Day School used to have some too because
I remember the brand IDS, Indian Day School. I remember the brand, but that is
E: You mean, the brand on the cattle, Indian Day School.
G: Yes, Indian Day School. It seems like they had some.
E: What did the brand look like?
G: It just said IDS. I remember that, but that is about all I know about that.
E: That is interesting. You talked about the laws saying something some way, and
there are these practices where the women are, kind of, in charge, and it is really
SEM 252 page 53
different than the laws. It is this practice that goes back. Do you see that more
often in other areas, or is it something you commonly saw as this kind of a clash
between this official way of...
G: I think that people who are brought up traditionally know that. Like, I am thinking
about my friend in Miccosukee. I mean, that is her place, and he is there. They
probably do not even talk about it, and I do not either, but it is just going to be a
rude awakening. This is my way. People probably want to share and be equal
and all that but, if it comes to push and shove, that is my way.
E: The last series of questions I have here, and we have talked already about some
of them, focus on issues of cultural preservation. We have talked about that
some in relation to language. I wanted to ask you about things like the powwows
and the rodeos and the fairs, if those are a way that people preserve culture, or if
they do some of the stuff that we were just talking about, like teach a different
organization. For instance, the cattle seems to be something that is run by men,
or it had been. Now, you are on this board. Are the rodeos and the fairs and that
kind of thing really to teach, for lack of a better phrase, traditional Seminole
G: Hm-mm [no]. It is somebody=s culture. I do not know, [but] it is not our=s. But, I
guess they do like to keep...since they are not into anything else, they need
something to keep them off drugs and everything else, keep them busy. I am
thinking about the rodeo. And the powwows, that is not even our thing. I know it
is not a way to make money, so I do not know why they have them. But, they did
not do it last year, so maybe they will not do it this year. I do not know.
SEM 252 page 54
E: That is more entertainment?
G: For, probably, the non-Indians. I mean, I guess it is entertaining to us too, but it
is mainly for the dancers because they pay money. If you are good enough, then
you can go to all of these powwow circles and make all kinds of money. So, that
is what they do, the dancers.
E: Yes, I went to the fair down in Hollywood last February and saw dancers from all
over the place, people from Oklahoma, people from...they had these Aztec
dancers doing things.
E: How about the museums? Down in Big Cypress, there is the Ah-tah-thi-ki
Museum, and now there is also a museum over in Hollywood. Have you been to
G: I went to the one in Big Cypress. I mean, I worked in the office when we were
E: That is right. Do you think that is an important way to preserve things or
traditions at all, or is it not for Indians?
G: I guess it is a start because, before, everything had to be kept in their head, and
we would learn from oral teachings. That was fine as long as you had people
around but, you know, we are losing our elders and everything so we have to find
other ways to do it. Some people would argue with you there, but we cannot live
like 150 years ago. So, we have to think, what do we have to do now to preserve
the culture and tradition. The museum is probably the best way to go.
E: There is something else which is going on in Big Cypress, which is ecotourism,
SEM 252 page 55
the Billie Swamp Safari trying to bring people in and show them the Everglades.
Is that kind of practice important, do you think?
G: I do not know.
E: It really is not something ?
G: I do not know anything about it. I do not know why they do it.
E: Well, I told you I was going to take an hour of your time.
G: I know but after I get started, I just keep going and going.
E: I guess, for now, I would like to wrap things up, but before we do that, since we
are looking at cultural and social changes over the last generation and we have
talked about a number of things, is there anything else we have not talked about
that you think would be really important to discuss?
G: Give me another question. I mean, I thought of something earlier, but I have
E: Okay. I have other questions, but we have been covering a lot of them. I have
fairly specific questions about things like computers and whatnot. It sounds like
you have a strong commitment to education, and you see that is a significant
issue, have a lot of concerns about that. Is there anything else related to that
you would want to talk about with me, or do you think we have covered that for
G: I think we have kind of covered everything. I cannot think of anything else right
E: Okay. I think I have probably had you talked out here, so why don=t we call it
quits for today and when I go through this and get it transcribed and bring it back
SEM 252 page 56
to you, maybe at that point, we will schedule another time or something. And,
you know, I might come up with some more questions after we look it over.
E: So, I want to thank you very much for your time and for participating in this.
G: Okay. [End of interview.]