Title: Marie Phillips [ SEM 259 ]
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00091801/00001
 Material Information
Title: Marie Phillips SEM 259
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Interviewer: J. Ellison
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, FL
Publication Date: November 8, 1999
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00091801
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Sem 259
Interviewee: Marie Phillips
Interviewer: J. Ellison
Date: November 8, 1999

E: Today is the eighth of November and I am Jim Ellison and I am here with Marie

Phillips at the Big Cypress is it the Senior Center? The Senior Citizens Center?

P: We just call it the Big Cypress Hot Meals.

E: And we are here to do an interview, today, to cover the questionnaire and talk

about that program. Is Marie Phillips, your full name?

P: Yes. It is.

E: Are you a tribal member?

P: Yes, I am.

E: To what clan do you belong?

P: Panther.

E: Panther Clan. And were you born around...

P: Here.

E: At Big Cypress?

P: Yes.

E: Right here, on the reservation.

P: On the reservation.

E: Do you know what year you were born?

P: 1957.

E: And do you have Miccosukee name, and Indian name, a Seminole...

P: Yeah. But, I cannot pronounce it too good.

E: You cannot pronounce it?

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Interviewee: Marie Phillips
Page 2

P: It was never really used, growing up. My grandmother knew how to pronounce it,

real well. But, they just called me by my English name.

E: Marie. So, now, you do not use it?

P: No.

E: Are there not people who call you that?

P: Just two people call me that, my first ex-husband and one of my cousins.

E: So, they know it.

P: They know it. I do not know it.

E: Did you ever use it when you were growing up?

P: No, not really. But my grandmother used it a lot. Then, she called me by my

English name a lot, too.

E: Who named you with a Miccosukee name?

P: I do not even know. It could have been any of the elders.

E: And now, 99 per cent of the people know you as Marie? And call you Marie?

P: Yeah.

E: Have you always lived on Big Cypress?

P: Yes. I have gone away, like to Oklahoma, to pursue a nursing career but I

stayed forty-two days, and came back.

E: Forty two-days?

P: Yes.

E: How did that happen?

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P: I did not want to. I just wanted to come home.

E: It was not what you expected?

P: No. I have never been off the reservation. I was eighteen when I left the state of

Florida. I had never been off the reservation and I was twenty-one, at the time,

when I went to Oklahoma, but I did not want to stay. I just wanted to come home

because I grew up with my grandparents and they were still alive at the time.

They wanted me home and I wanted to come home, so it just worked out that I

...so I just came home.

E: These were your Mother's parents?

P: Yes.

E: And what were their names?

P: My grandmother's name was Willie May Billie. And my grandfather's name was

Albert Billie.

E: OK, I have come across that name before. I am trying to remember where. I am

not sure where. And so they lived here on Big Cypress?

P: Yes, they did. My grandfather has been gone close to fifteen years and my

grandmother has been no, my grandmother has been gone for close to fifteen

years and my grandfather has been gone about ten years.

E: But you lived with them before you went off to Oklahoma ?

P: And practically, still lived with them until they passed away because we were

really close and there was not a day when I was not at their house. My kids were

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Interviewee: Marie Phillips
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there, too. It is the extended family that I grew up with that we have had in the

past but you do not see a lot of that, anymore.

E: Yeah, people these days have their own nuclear families in their houses. When

you were growing up and you were living with your grandparents, were your

parents around, as well?

P: My Mother was around but she worked a lot because she was a single Mother.

My Dad had left us when we were very little. She was raising us with the help of

our grandparents, she could go off the rez and go work somewhere. Or she

would work ten to twelve days out in the vegetable fields, somewhere. But, we

mainly grew up with our grandparents. Mother was there but she was always


E: So she did a lot of the work in the agricultural picking, that kind of thing?

P: She never went to school so she did not know how to read and write so she

would go out and pick, tomatoes, in the tomato fields, she would pick tomatoes or

cucumbers or peppers or whatever was in season, at the time.

E: Did you do that, too?

P: Yes. We did that, too. Soon as we were old enough.

E: Which was how old?

P: About eight. I was eight at the time and I think my younger brother was six. We

would go out there and we earn about twelve dollars a day. And then we would

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give all our money to our Mom so she could pay the bills and we would have a

vehicle to ride in and food to eat.

E: So she could run things.

P: Yeah.

E: It sounds like hard work, though. When you are eight...

P: It was. It was very hard work. We would mainly work on weekends during the

fall after we would get out of school. And if we had Christmas vacation, we did

not stay home from school, we were out in the field, working, picking vegetables.

And it was cold and wet and mud in your tennis shoes. Yes, it was hard work.

E: So, you were in school? When you started school, did you go here to the Big


P: Yeah, we had a little one-room schoolhouse that we attended. And then, I

believe it was in 1963, when they built the Ahfachkee School. Then, I was one of

the first students to go in there. I think I was in the fourth grade.

E: So you moved from the old school to the Ahfachkee?

P: Yes.

E: Did they call it the Ahfachkee School, right away? Or did it have another name?

P: Yes, I believe they did. The reservation, the original name for the reservation

was Ahfachkee and they changed it to Big Cypress. I do not know why. It might

have been too hard for the non-Indians to pronounce or whatever. But, yes, it

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Interviewee: Marie Phillips
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was Ahfachkee. And then, they changed it. Because I guess, a lot of the

cypress hammocks and stuff around here.

E: That is interesting. That is not something that I knew. Did you go on and finish

school...there at Ahfachkee?

P: Yes. From the fourth grade, I went to Clewiston; to fifth grade. And from there, a

lot of my brothers and sisters went to boarding schools but I graduated at the

Clewiston Highschool. And I have had some college some technical training.

E: And forty-two days of was it nursing you said?

P: Yes.

E: ...out in Oklahoma.

P: I was working at the Indian hospital in Lawton, Oklahoma...hoping I came back.

E: You had brothers and sisters who went off to boarding school. Were they older?

P I have two older sisters: Linda Billie, that works with water resource; and then I

have another one, Mary Jane Coppage, that was working with the 4H, and then I


E: She is no longer with the 4H?

P: No. I have a brother in Arizona that is two years younger than me. There were

eight of us but we lost one, about twelve years ago.

E: We interviewed Mary Jane, well, Rosalynd, the person that we were working

with, had interviewed her, when she was, I think, still working last summer.

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P: Oh, yeah, last summer...she has not been well, they laid her off about a couple of

months ago. She is at home.

E: You say your Mother had not gone to school. Did she speak English, at all?

P: Very little. It was real hard for my Dad to teach her English so she taught him


E: Where was he from?

P: Originally, his family came from Georgia, I believe. But, he was part

Irish, English; you name it, he was it. He lives in Alaska, now. He

is a Baptist minister and he preaches to the Indians, out there.

E: What is his name?

P: Gene Coppage.

E: So, did he learn?

P: Oh, he learned Miccosukee, real well. He could speak to us in Miccosukee. He

was basically, fluent in the language. But, he learned really fast, like my

husband. He can almost speak it because that is all I speak to our

granddaughter, is in Miccosukee. When she is home; it does not matter where

we are, I will just speak Miccosukee because I want her to know. I want her to

carry on the language.

E: Is your husband's first language Miccosukee?

P: No. My husband is from New York.

E: Not a whole lot of Miccosukee speakers in New York.

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P: No. He is from western New York.

E: So did your education, since your Mom did not have education, were your

parents both encouraging you to go to school?

P: Our grandparents. Our Mother did. They all encouraged us to get an education.

They would always tell us, you know, when you have two hands, you learn to

carry two things. You need to learn to carry two languages. Because they said it

was very hard for them to get along in life when they did not know how to speak

English and they would try to go buy things. And they could not pronounce the

words right. Of course, they did not speak English, at all. Just some of the

things that they learned, like my grandfather used to go to those Western Auto

stores, and he tried to buy a shell; a gun shell, that was, I think it was called

fourteen, savage, or something like that. And he would walk in and he would say

fourteen, samich". And they thought he was losing it. They thought he was in a

restaurant. And he kept saying no. And they kept saying no, we do not have it.

And it was so frustrating for him. He could not get his point across to buy what

he was there for. And they use to tell us that you need to learn both, but do not

forget where you come from. So, they were both very encouraging. We had to

get up at four thirty or five o'clock, every morning to catch the bus. They were

there. They were always there. They would have our breakfast ready; they

would have our clothing laid out what little clothing we had.

E: So, they were really behind -- having you go get an education.

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P: Yes, so when we did learn how to speak English and do some of the things that

they could not do, we made sure that we were behind them. Helped them out a

lot; did a lot of things with them; for them.

E: How did you turn around and help them?

P: Oh, well, my grandmother used to sell gas by the five gallon can...

E: ...gasoline?

P: Yes. There were no gasoline stations out there, well, there still are no gas

stations, out here, people needed gas to get in and out of town, you know, back

and forth to town. And they would buy, for example, five gallons of gas and put it

in their car. There were times when they would try to cheat them out of their

money, when she would go to refill her cans. And when we learned to read and

write and do our math, we would tell them, no, that is not right. This is how much

she owes not that much. You know, things like that. Just little things, that

made them so proud that we had an education.

E: And they made a difference with those things.

P: It did.

E: So, do you think (an interesting story, about the two hands) you learn two things

while retaining your own culture and language? Do you feel that they succeeded

at having you go to school and learn white ways and language and so forth while

retaining what it is to be a Seminole and a Miccosukee speaker?

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Interviewee: Marie Phillips
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P: Yes. I think they helped us a lot and we helped them a lot. It was like we could

probably never repay what they had helped us with, but we felt that we were

obligated to help them because they really pushed us to get an education. And it

was not a burden; it was an obligation that you were glad to do to help them

out. I guess that is why I more or less get along with the seniors around here

because I grew up with them and I relate to the seniors more than I do anybody


E: Really?

P: Yeah. I like helping the seniors.

E: And so, your main employment, right now, is doing this program?

P: Yes. I am the site manager, here, and two other ladies Patsy is the head cook

and Gina, the other lady, is the assistant cook.

E: There is a program like this, also, up at Brighton? Is there one at Immokalee?

P: No. But there is one in Hollywood.

E: And so how does it work? You open up at noon. How does it actually work? Is

it one meal a day?

P: No, it is two meals a day. They get breakfast and lunch. Well. Usually, we come

in about six AM, but I usually come in about five thirty. And we have breakfast

ready by seven thirty. They can come in between seven thirty and eight thirty.

Breakfast will be here. And then, they have lunch. We also have home

deliveries for the home bound clients. We have a couple of them that are

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actually, young people; they are not even seniors, yet, but they have medical

problems. Their meals are paid for under a different program, but since we

deliver breakfast and lunch, we go ahead and deliver to them.

E: Same meals but just...

P: Yes.

E: And, just looking around, about how many people do you have come in, on

average, for breakfast or lunch?

P: It varies, from day to day. I would say about eight for breakfast and sometimes,

more or less for lunch.

E: It depends on what they are doing.

P: Yes.

E: And you deliver to the people who can not make it in.

P: We have some seniors that do come in but sometimes they will get sick. When

they are at home, convalescing, they will call us and see us. Usually, the clinic

will let us know that one of our clients has been in the hospital and he or she is

home, now. Then, we deliver to them, as well.

E: Oh that is good. That is a nice way to do it. And that is where you were when I

drove up after I had already come in. Were you out taking food to somebody?

P: No, I had to send a fax in so that we could get more groceries in, tomorrow.

E: Well that will help, too. How did you come to be involved in this?

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P: Well, actually, I worked at the truck stop down there, on 1-75, but I had been

working there for five years, on the night shift. My husband got a little bit tired of

it, so he asked me to quit and I quit. And then, I was unemployed for about a

year and a half. And then, the lady who used to run this place was leaving. Her

husband was the pastor at the First Baptist Church, over here. And he was

going home, back to Oklahoma.

E: Who is that?

P: Fred Lindsey.

E: Fred Lindsey. And she was?

P: Susie Lindsay. So, they were going back to Oklahoma and the job was open and

I asked my husband if he thought it was all right if I worked over here. Because I

am just an old fashioned type of person -I always ask my husband if I can or

cannot. And he said I do not care, as long as you are home before I get home or

whatever. And I told him the job is from six to two. He said, go ahead. And I

love to cook and I had the opportunity to do what I like to do and serve the

seniors at the same time. And I get along, so good with them. They are not to

be mean, but they are like little kids, at times. It is a lot of fun; it is rewarding.

There are a lot of them that remind me of my grandparents, every now and

again. I like it.

E: Do you know all of the seniors, anyway?

P: Yeah. I know everybody on the reservation.

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Interviewee: Marie Phillips
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E: You have been doing it now, for seven years, did you say?

P: Almost seven years six and a half years.

E: Do you feel like this serves a very serious need, with these people that really

need this service?

P: Yeah, I believe it is because like I said, it depends on the day or whatever that

they come in and sometimes we get so many in here that we have to tell them

that we ran out of food.

E: Really.

P: Yeah. Because breakfast or lunch, we cook enough for forty people and it has to

be measured and so many ounces and stuff. We try to accommodate

everybody. It is not a therapeutic meal. It is not just for diabetics or just for

people with high blood pressure. It is just a nutritious, balanced meal. But we do

not cook with any salt or anything and that is why we have salt on the table. They

can put it on there if they want. Yes, I believe there is a need for it, especially, for

some of them that are alone like Daisy's Mother. She was alone but now, she

has a nurse. And Daisy is there all the time. She is real good with her. But,

there are some of them who would rather be alone but sometimes you are

sacred to let them be alone because they try to cook. We try to tell them, do not

be cooking and we will be bringing your food. But, then sometimes, it is like they

are not used to this type of food. They want their old Indian food, old ways or


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E: What sorts of things? What types of food do they want?

P: Well, a lot of them eat a lot of stewed chicken or beef, you know a lot of stewed

meats. A lot of grains like rice and grits and stuff like that and they want their

traditional drink, which is what we call Oklee. It is made out of corn. You can

make it out of just about anything, but it is just boiled water with whatever you put

in it. It could be rice or corn or anything. And it is real bland to other people who

are not used to it. And they want that or they want fry bread, which they can not

have all of the time, but you can not tell them that. So, they always want to cook

their own foods, but then we bring the food to them. Sometimes, they eat it and

sometimes, they do not. Depending on what it is.

E: And you said the drink was what? I mean, that sounds to me like what I have

heard called salke.

P: Yes. Sofkee is in Creek. Oklee is Miccosukee.

E: Oh. OK.

P: Yeah. It is the same thing. Some of the words in Miccosukee or Creek are kind

of the same with variations in it.

E: I can kind of see that is a little similar. Are most of the people that you deal with,

here, Miccosukee speakers?

P: Yes. And a lot of them know how to speak the other language. Creek, too. I can

understand it. I can sit here and listen to people talk and I can understand it but I

Sem 259
Interviewee: Marie Phillips
Page 15

can not speak it. I do not know why. It is just the way of trying to pronounce the

words, I guess.

E: So, there are people who come in who are Creek speakers, primarily?

P: No, they speak Miccosukee but they know both languages. But sometimes, we

have meetings, here, and some of the seniors will be speaking in Creek and I

can understand what they are saying, but I can not speak it.

E: That is interesting. You talk about how some people need this service. They are

at home; they are by themselves and they need somebody to cook for them. Is

this very different from when you were growing up what seniors needed?

P: Yeah. It is very different, today, than when I grew up because if your

grandmother was here, your Mother and Father was there, your grandparents;

your Mother and Father; all of your aunts and uncles; all of your brothers and

sisters; everybody lived in one camp. And if your brother went off to go marry

another girl, then he was required to live there with her family. And, you know,

and provide for her family. And if you had enough to provide for that family, then

you could splurge and give some to your other family. There were people who

were always cooking; always taking care of the elders. Because the elders were

something that was a prize to us. Nowadays, they are not really looked upon as


E: In what ways, are they not?

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P: Well, they are not really taken care of the way they were, back when I was

growing up. They are more or less, babysitters. They are raising their grand

kids; great grand kids, great great grand kids. But they would not trade it for the

world. It is not a burden to them. It is something; they could not turn away their

grand kids. Even if it meant something really bad was happening with the

parents and you know they could not really take care of the kids and they ended

up with them. But they would not say no; they would not turn them away.

E: You were saying that grandparents used to be the elders; used to be prized; they

were a real value to people. Do you feel like that is different, these days, than

when you were growing up?

P: It is different because if you went anywhere, your grandparents went with you.

Now, everybody has their own vehicle; their own homes. Sometimes, they do

not even go by and say do you want to go with me or do you want me to pick

anything up for you. They are more or less, neglected, nowadays. It is like

everybody is into the flow of everything. They are just going all the time and they

do not have time to stop and just visit.

E: Do you attribute it more to economics? Is it related to people engaged in doing

work eight hours a day or is it the housing, or something in particular that you

see. Is there a point where it changed a lot?

P: It is when they started living away from the extended family and then people

having to work to provide for themselves. Back when we were growing up, my

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grandfather and my uncle would go out and they would kill a deer. Everybody

would get a little bit of deer here and there. Then, we always had whatever they

bought, even if they went off of the reservation, to buy it. Everybody brought

everything together. It was not put aside saying I bought this; this is for my family

and me. My grandparents can not have any. It was not that way. Everything

was just all pooled together so that everybody could have whatever was there.

They did not have to go off the reservation being in their own home saying that,

well, I have to go in to Clewiston, to go grocery shopping. And if they did that,

back when we were growing up, they were not shopping just for themselves.

They were shopping for the whole family. So, it had a lot to do with living away

from the extended family, working and having to keep going with the future, I


E: So, when you were living here with your grandparents, when you grew up, you

were living in a chickee, or in chickees?

P: Yes.

E: Early on. Do you remember the point where people started building CBS


P: Yes. We were one of the first families that moved into it. It was back in 1962, I

believe it was. And we lived in chickees and they did not have any big canals like

they do, now. And if it rained hard, we slept on platforms about as high as this

table, and it was just a couple of inches before the water was touching the

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platforms. There would be snakes and stuff swimming around. I guess we just

thought it was part of life or something. Sometimes you would hear things just a

foot away, just fighting in the water and you did not know what it was. But you

just went on about your business. We always used to have to park our cars on

the main road and wade through the water back to our camps and stuff. People

hardly ever lived close to the main highway. They always lived further back. But

this is just been within the last, I would say, thirty years that they started living

closer to the main highway.

E: Right along this road. So, back then, when you had the chickees, this was not

paved, was it?

P: No. At first, it was just all muck and mud and stuff. And then, they finally, put in

some shell rock and then, I guess, they paved it. It has been about twenty-five

years since they paved the road. It has not been that long.

E: Because even when it was the shell rock, it was probably built up a little bit.

People lived way off in the distance, right? So, you would have to walk through

the water to get to the road or to get to school.

P: Yeah, .to get to their vehicles.

E: And you say you were among the first families to get the CBS? Was that right

around here?

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P: It is right back here, behind the ball field. You can not see it, now, but there was

one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten. There were ten homes

along this horseshoe.

E: It goes around back?

P: Yes. And that is all that was there.

E: Are they still there, those first ones?

P: Yes. My youngest sister, she is twenty-eight, she lives in my grandparents old


E: That is right around, back over here. Are they very different than the ones...?

P: Not really. They are basically, the same.

E: Blockhouse?

P: Square house. Yep. Yeah, they are all HUD homes, I guess.

E: Do you have memories of moving into the...?

P: Yes.

E: What was that like?

P: It was exciting because the last time I actually lived in a house that had four

walls, I was four. I was six, at the time when we moved in to the block home.

We used to live in Clearwater where my father's Mother lived. But, my Mom did

not like staying away from her Mother. She would get homesick and she would

really get ill and she would always come home. So, we came home. And we

stayed. And my youngest brother was born, not my youngest brother, but one

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of my brothers. Anyway, back in 1962, and when he was born, it was cold. It

was in December. I believe it was about November or December when we

moved in. And then, they were still living back out in the woods at the old camp.

And then, when he was born, everybody else moved in with us. So, the

extended family was still there with the grandparents and the Uncles and the

Aunts and the Mothers.

E: ...all in one house?

P: Yes. Three bedrooms. And we were always used to sleeping on pallets,

anyway, so we had pallets, everywhere. Just sleeping everywhere. But my

grandmother had her own room and then, two of my uncles were there. They

had their own room and then my grandfather slept with one of our Uncles, in the

same room. So, our grandmother got a king-sized bed so there was three of us

older girls, we all slept with her.

E: The pallets? What do you mean by pallets?

P: Like putting a bunch of blankets down and just sleeping on it.

E: So, it could have been just blankets or is it wood?

P: No. It is just blankets on the floor. Or quilts or whatever you had. Just pile them

on the floor and then it fit so everybody can lay down and go to sleep.

E: So, lots of people moved into this house, at that same time. When you first

started moving in, you had a bunch of people go from chickees into the house -

not just your Mom and your Dad and your brothers and sisters, but

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P: The house was built for our grandparents. But, that is when they started trying to

build homes everybody else, too. And my grandmother did not want us living

anywhere else but with her. We all moved in with her. Grant her wishes.

E: It sort of makes sense. Because that is the arrangements you had with the


P: Yeah.

E: Do you remember if there were other people around who did not. How did they

select the first people, or how did the first people come about getting the first


P: I do not know. I think well, mainly the ones that did get a home were people that

had cattle. And that when they would sell the cows, they would just automatically

take monies out of their sales to pay for the homes.

E: So, your grandparents had cattle?

P: Yes. Come to think about it, everybody that did get into these ten homes, did

have cattle.

E: So, it was the way they were paying for it?

P: Yep. They probably asked who wanted a home or whatever. And they probably

asked the people who had cattle so that they could pay for it. Yeah, everybody

that did get a home did have cows.

E: So, it was a pretty exciting thing, when you were six years old and moving in this


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P: Oh, yeah. It was. Cooking on an electric stove. It seems like everything was

cooking faster than what you were used to. My grandmother always had a fire

going. She never did let her fire go out in her cook chickee. And I believe she

had a small electric stove that she only used for certain things. I do not know

what she used it for but she very seldom used it. But, it was exciting. I can still

see the day that we did move in.

E: Yeah? How was it? How did you do it? How far was it from the chickees?

P: Um, where the school is, there is a road. On the other side well, right next to

the school on the other side, the road goes back. And it goes back for about,

maybe, a quarter of a mile, maybe an eighth of a mile. It goes back there. That

is where we lived. But if you went behind the house and walked over there, it

was just a little ways over there. All this was wooded. I mean, there was all pine

trees and cypress not cypress, but palmetto hedges all over the place. I mean,

it was really thick, back there. And we used to go in there and play. And they

would tell us, do not go back there because there were rattlesnakes and stuff

back there. But, that did not stop us.

E: Kids! And so, the road curves around here? It was not that far, you are saying,

to go from the house over to where the chickees were?

P: It was not that far if you went through the woods. But, if you went on the main

road, you had to go down the road, by the school and then, go back behind the


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E: So, how did they move stuff over there?

P: With a pickup truck.

E: Pickup truck.

P: My Uncle had a pickup truck and other people would pitch in and help. They

would find out that we were getting a house and they were excited, as well. And

they would say, well, just let us know when you need help and we will help you


E: Did they have like a moving party, where

P: No, they just moved a little bit here and there. I do not even know where they got

the furniture. But they had brand new furniture in the house. I do not know if we

moved in with it furnished. All I know is I was in a house.

E: You had been in a house, before in Clearwater.

P: Yeah. In Clearwater, we lived in a big, wood frame house.

E: With your Father's Mother?

P: No. She lived near by. I think it was a big, five-bedroom house with wood floors

that my Mom stripped and waxed every month.

E: Wow. No wonder she wanted to come back.

P: She loved doing it because she wanted it shiny all of the time. I think she was

trying to impress her non-Indian Mother-in-law. We would go next door to a

neighbor's and she would strip and wax the floors, again. She would call us and

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we would come home or we would just stay outside all day long because we had

a porch that wrapped around the house. It was a big, beautiful home.

E: Yeah. It sounds like it.

P: The last time I was there, I was four.

E: So, when you moved in here, obviously, you could remember it, some of that.

P: Yes.

E: After you moved in, did the chickees stay over here?

P: Yeah. They stayed over there for a little while. And then, they finally got

everything out of there and my grandfather left that home site to my youngest

Uncle and he could do with, whatever he wanted to. And when he got married,

he moved over there, for a little while. And, then, he got divorced and came

back. We had to move out of his room. And then, he gave up the home site to

his sister-in-law. So, that is who lives there, today.

E: There is a house on that site, now?

P: Yes.

E: That was your youngest Uncle, so your grandfather and grandmother's youngest


P: Yes.

E: Your Mother's brother?

P: Yes.

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E: So, initially, everybody moved in there. You were with your grandparents. Was

your Mom around?

P: Yes.

E: She was there. And your Uncle was there. He did not have kids, at that point?

P: No, neither of my Uncles had any kids. My oldest one, my oldest Uncle (I only

had two Uncles) just turned sixty, this past January. And his daughter, actually,

she is fourteen, today. So, he was up there when he got married and had that

little girl.

E: Were there other kids that moved in? Did your Mom have sisters?

P: No. There was just she and the two brothers. Well, my grandmother said that

there was thirteen, at one time, but they all died because of diseases. Mostly,

what the young kids or the babies died of, was diarrhea -because of unsanitary

places and stuff like that things that they did not know about. And they would

try to do use herbal medicines like do Indian Medicines, and stuff like that and it

did not help. They would die, anyway. But, she said all she had was three

children left.

E: So, things that would have been preventable, today, were not, then. At some

point, did your Mom get her own place and move out?

P: She moved into one of these little duplexes over here in I think it was 1974.

1973 or 1974. She finally moved out.

E: Where were you, then?

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P: I was already married, then. She moved in there with three of her kids. Three of

her youngest ones and then, well, the youngest one was a boy. That was four

younger ones and four older ones. But the youngest one was living with his

grandmother in Morehaven. She had three of them with her.

E: So, you grandfather and your grandmother had cattle?

P: Yes.

E: A lot of cattle?

P: I am not sure how many they had not even 100 probably seventy head.

Seventy-five, maybe.

E: Did they keep them with other people's cattle?

P: Well, yeah, there was like two to three cattle owners that shared pastures and

grazing land and stuff like that. They shared a pasture with my grandmother's

youngest sister. And then she got married and moved all of her cows to the

other person's pasture that she married because he had cattle, too. And then, it

was just my grandfather's cows in that pasture and then

[tape change]

...But the only kids that were there, were my Mother's kids. And the oldest ones

were just we three girls. And my grandfather always used to say, why could not

you have been a boy? But, we would go hunting with him; we would work cattle

with him; we would do just about anything a boy could do.

E: So, what happened to his herd? Your Uncle sold his ...?

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P: Well, he died and it was divided among my two uncles and my Mom. But my

youngest uncle, he passed away a year ago this past August. He died of

cirrhosis of the liver. He had been an alcoholic for a lot of years. He was only

forty-nine? Yeah, he was only forty-nine.

E: That is really young.

P: He started early.

E: The drinking?

P: Yeah. It was something that a lot of the mostly, the young men, got into. They

were not working. They were drinking, and a lot of them quit school. He did not

graduate. He was like a brother to us more than anything. And my oldest uncle

(he is still alive) he was more like a father to us than an uncle. And our

grandfather was, too. So, we really did not miss the father figure. We always

had one.

E: Right. And so your cattle, when your grandfather passed away, they went to

your Mom and your two uncles. What happened to your Mom's cattle?

P: They are still around. My sister, Maryjane, she has cattle, in the same pasture

with my Mom's.

E: It was something that you were going to pursue?

P: No, I was more of a I do not know homemaker, I guess you would say. If I

wanted animals, it was the small animals, it was having hogs or chickens or

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whatever. Dogs, cats. I was always more into arts and crafts like beading and

baskets and sewing and my sister always wanted to do stuff like that.

E: Did your grandmother work with the cattle or did she do...?

P: Oh yeah. She did. She worked with the cattle. We always had about eight to

ten hogs in the pen somewhere. Always had to have animals. But yes, she did.

She was out there. She would help build feed troughs and mend fences. We

were always all out there. It was a family thing.

E: Did she also do some of the craft stuff that you were talking about? That you like

to do?

P: She did, she did a little bit of sewing, but she had arthritis, really bad, so it kept

her from doing a lot of things that she used to.

E: Where did you learn some of those skills?

P: From my Mom and my grandmother. They used to teach how to do bead work

when we were really little. That was back when we lived in the chickees. And we

used to sit there and watch our Mom sew. That was some of the stuff my Mom

did in order to earn a living. And she still does that, today.

E: She does?

P: She is almost seventy. She will be seventy in March. And she has been doing it

since she was eight years old. That is all she does; is sewing. She does the

patchwork; she makes the skirts and the jackets and stuff.

E: And so you learned that, too? Do you do any of that, today?

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P: Yes, if I am not lazy.

E: Obviously, you have got another job.

P: And I have a five-year-old grand daughter that keeps me going. She says we

have got to go outside and do this. And I say OK, I will be there in a minute. And

she will come in with her hands on her hips and say, it has been five, and you

said a minute.

E: You said that you speak Miccosukee to her? Would you say that Miccosukee is

her first language?

P: I would say it is her primary language. I would want it to be. She speaks English

very well. She is five, going on twenty-five. But she is really smart. She does

really well in school.

E: Is she in grade school, already?

P: She is in kindergarten.

E: Do they have a language program?

P: Yeah.

E: She had done that?

P: There are a lot of the kids that only speak English and she has got to be there

with the culture teacher telling the kids how to say this or that.

E: She does?

P: Yes.

E: She is coaching the other kids?

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P: Yes. She speaks Miccosukee to her dolls and her teddy bears and she says,

you have to learn the language.

E: How neat.

P: My two girls, they speak it. And they speak to her. Sometimes they will catch

themselves speaking English and Miccosukee at the same time. I will catch

them and I will say, either you speak one language or the other to her. And it

was hard when we were growing up because in school, a lot of us... I did not

speak very good language when I went into grade school in Clewiston. It was

very hard to me and whatever they said, I would have to translate it in my head to

try to understand what it was they were asking or telling me. And then, I would

have to translate it back and answer. It took us longer to answer the questions

and they always looked at us like maybe we needed special teaching; like we

were special education kids. If they had only known what we were doing. It was

hard trying to learn this and that. After a while, you learn to do it faster and

E: You had a feeling that they did not understand that it was a language issue you

were translating. They did not...

P: To them, it was like we did not comprehend and that we were slow or whatever.

When In fact, we were, I would say, almost genius.

E: Well, being bilingual. I talked to some people who went through earlier than you

did, there, and they talked about being discouraged from speaking Miccosukee

or Creek, by the teachers.

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P: Yeah. Well, they always used to make sure that there were not two Indian kids in

the class. They would always try to separate us. And there were not that many

of us, anyway, to begin with. There were not that many Indian students. So, with

all of the different classes, they could. Or at PE, sometimes we would be in the

same class with the other Indian kids and we would be off to the side, just

speaking Seminole. They would try to get us to participate. Some of the teachers

were very understanding and some of them were prejudiced. The PE teachers

always seemed to be really nice. They did not care if we spoke Seminole or

whatever; they just wanted us to participate. But, it was usually, the classroom

teachers who would try to discourage us from talking Seminole. But, sometimes

when it came down to the history class, they would want to know how to say this

or that. When it was convenient for them, we could speak it. But when we would

want to, they did not want us to.

E: Do you remember how you felt about it at the time? Being separated from the

few people you did ride up there on the bus, with?

P: I could be in a room full of thirty students and feel isolated at the same time -

alone. I guess if there is such a thing. Feeling alone in a crowd. That is how it

was. But, a lot of the students were very curious and they wanted to be friends

with you. Then, you learn to be friends with them and start learning a lot of

things from each other. Then, you start getting along. Then, you start looking

forward to going to school, so it was a long process, but when you finally get

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there, it pays off. You would be standing there or you would be riding in on the

bus, and then your friends would be standing there, waiting for you to get off the

bus, to come to school.

E: Where did your kids go to school?

P: Clewiston.

E: They went up there, also?

P: Yes.

E: Did you think their experience was the same as yours?

P: No. Not like mine. My girls, they would make friends with people's worst

enemies. They were just very outgoing. They would make friends real easily.

Like my youngest, Cheyenne, she used to have little girls that would want to

come home with her but they were scared to come home. This was in third

grade, I believe it was. They were saying, they would not shoot us with arrows.

Or they will not scalp us. Cheyenne, she is a card, to begin with, anyway. And

she would say, No. Besides we do not use arrows, anymore. We have

automatic machine guns. Or she would say, no, they do not scalp, anymore, we

buy wigs. Or they would want to know if we lived in tee pees. And she would tell

them, oh, yeah; we live in tee pees. The rich ones some of the rich Indians,

they live in two story tee pees and have escalators. I mean, she would just go

along with them. Instead of saying, Oh, do not be stupid. We do not live in such

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houses. But they were always really nice about it. I mean, they would joke

around about it. And they were just so outgoing.

E: Did they bring friends back home, after school?

P: Yes. Yes.

E: Were you ever-bringing friends back home from school?

P: No. We were not allowed to.

E: Really?

P: We were not allowed to bring friends home.

E: Your grandparents...

P: Yeah, because my grandmother never did like to go inside of a restaurant to eat.

She was uncomfortable. And if she was uncomfortable with other kids being

around that were not from the reservation. Once in a while, there would be a

family that would live out here. It would be a farmer or something. Bring his

family and live out here and farm. Once in a while we would befriend those kids

and bring them home. It was not that she did not like non-Indians. It was that

she did not feel comfortable around them. It was like she thought they were

staring at her or something.

E: That is interesting. So, that was more of the reason why you would not bring

people back more so than the kids did not want to come back with you?

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P: Yeah, because they wanted to see how the Indians lived. And they wanted to

know when we got home, did we change into our buckskin play clothes and stuff.

Get out of our school clothes.

E: Was there a lot of that? People had that as their image of...?

P: Yeah. There was a lot of ignorance. They were not sure of how we lived. Or

what we wore or what we ate. They wanted to know, even then, I am talking in

the sixties, close to seventies. There were still a lot who believed that some of

the men ran around with nothing but a loin cloth.

E: There were watching Lone Ranger and Tonto on TV.

P: Too many John Wayne movies.

E: That is really interesting, because it is not that far away. It is just the next town


P: About forty-five minutes.

E: So, the kids that you went to school with had these kind of misperceptions; and

the kids that your kids went to school with were asking the same sort of stuff

about the arrows and so on. Do you think it is the same?

P: Maybe the younger kids. Maybe first, second, third grade something like that.

Probably, because a lot of them, when they do see native Americans, it is usually

at a festival or at a pow wow. And they just perceive that is how we are, all the

time. And they think back when I was going to school they used to think does

your grandfather wear a lot of feathers and paint?

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E: Only on holidays.

P: When I worked at the Shell station, down here, I was the manager there. I was

standing next to the cashier, and this little boy walked in with his Mother, and

said are you a real Indian? And I said, Yes. And he said, where are your

feathers? I said, I am an Indian, not a chicken. And he did not say anything and

his Mother just laughed and said you asked a stupid question; you get a stupid

answer. I said, I resent that. That was not stupid. That was just an honest

answer. I figured he was being a little bit sarcastic when he was asking the

question. So, I was just playing back with him. But it was funny.

E: Yeah. It is really interesting the things people think about their images. Now,

you have how many grand kids in school? Or do you just have the one?

P: I just have one grandchild.

E: Here at the ...

P: At the Ahfachkee School.

E: She...grand daughter?

P: Yes.

E: She is going to Ahfachkee and she helps the assistant with the language and

...Do you think she is going to go through school, all the way, at Ahfachkee?

P: I do not know. My husband is very protective of her. I wanted to send her to

Clewiston School after kindergarten for first grade. And he said there are a lot

of crazy people out there (off this reservation); we do not need to send her out to

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where they are. You see a lot of these shootings and stuff at schools and all

these other crazy things going on. You are thinking what would be the safest

place for your child while you were not with them. And he is very protective of

her. He does not even let her play in the front yard. He thinks somebody is

going to snatch her up.

E: So, that is what he is referring to that kind of thing. So, this would be a lot safer.

But, you wanted to send her up to Clewiston?

P: Yes.

E: As opposed to going here? Why? I am curious about that.

P: I do not know, really. I have just always sent my kids to Clewiston School. And

since I have custody, I just wanted to send her to Clewiston. But she is doing

very well. They are even talking about putting her in first grade, already, she is

so advanced...more advanced than the other kids. She gets bored, really easy.

You have to keep her challenged, constantly. And you can not set her in front of

a TV and expect to do things because she does not watch TV. You can not use

the TV as a babysitter so you can get things done around the house. She does

not watch TV so it is hard to do. I have to constantly keep an eye on her. She is

a joy.

E: So, here, though, at Ahfachkee she gets education, partly in Miccosukee and

also gets the culture class and that kind of thing. Would she get that at


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P: No.

E: Would that be an issue? Or in your case, not a

P: Not in her case

E: Not in her case?

P: ...because I teach her a lot of things at home, as well. Because that is all I speak

to her. And I teach. I do not always get a book and read her a bedtime story. I

tell her Indian legends. Sing her Indian songs. We have a conversion van with a

TV in it. She would rather have that TV turned off and have me tell her about the

Indian legends and sing to her. I would say > how do you say this and then, she

will try to say it and sometimes she will get it wrong but then, she is only five.

E: So, she is allowed to get some of those things wrong.

P: Yeah. And we did not speak any English well, hardly any English until we were,

third or fourth grade. Because all of the kids that we went to school with, were

kids we grew up with. We just all spoke Seminole in the classrooms and the

teachers did not discourage us from speaking. They just wanted us to pay

attention and answer in English. He said, why do you want her to ride all the way

to Clewiston and ride all the way home? She would get a free meal for breakfast

and lunch. We do not have to feed her so early because she will not eat early.

She eats only when she is hungry. She will tell you, if you ask her what she

wants to eat and she says did I say anything about eating? He has made a

good point, you know, because she is so little. And it is a long ride. It takes

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longer than forty-five minutes because the bus is constantly stopping to let off

other kids. And it gets hot. They get tired and cranky. And it is like twenty

minutes to four when they come home. Where it is two thirty when they get out

of school, here. And she is home in five minutes. She can do what she wants

during the afternoon.

E: So, it seems a lot of the debate about what school to go to is not so much about

the language because that seems to be taken care of but more about location

and the time and that kind of thing.

P: Wear and tear on the child.

E: Yes, because with the bus ride, how is she going to do in school after sitting on

the bus for that long.

P: Yeah. Especially, when she has not eaten, because she will not eat early in the


E: We were talking about craft manufacturing. Did your kids pick that up?

P: My youngest daughter, Cheyenne, she does baskets and my oldest daughter

Clea, she does bead work. It was something it was not just a hobby or

something that we were supposed to learn; but we had to learn in order to

survive. I started having my kids when I was barely eighteen. And my husband

was barely twenty, and you know, jobs were very scarce. So, you had to learn

how to make something in order to sell it. You would go off the reservation to sell

it. Well, you would mainly go to Hollywood, because they have those arts and

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crafts stores on US 441, for the tourist people. And that is where you would sell

your wares.

E: Sell it to the storeowners? And they would turn around...

P: And they would sell it and then you would turn around and pay for your bills, and

buy your groceries and buy some more craft supplies. And then I was, all of a

sudden, a single Mother, with two kids that were only two and four. And when

they were old enough to thread a needle, I taught them how to do it. I told them,

it is always something good to have, even if you have an education. It is

something to fall back on or something to know so that one day you can teach

your kids. And just so that something is not lost along the way. Preservation is

more of what I was trying to teach them to keep it so that they do not lose it.

That is how I feel about the language and teaching my grand daughter.

E: It sounds like your family is in a pretty good position; your kids know the

language and your kids know these skills and traditions and cultural practices

and it sounds like your grand daughter is well on the way. Do you think that is

typical among people around that you?

P: Not really. My own sister, Maryjean, was married to a non-Indian. They had two

children and they are only a quarter Seminole and they do not speak the

language because her husband did not want them learning. He felt left out when

she would speak to them in Seminole. And today, he kicks himself. He admits

that he was wrong. That he deprived them of that. They understand it. You can

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speak to them in Seminole and they understand it but they do not speak it. So,

now, Maryjean has a grand son. He is not even two, yet. And she speaks to him

in Seminole and that is all she speaks to him and he understands. And he tries

to talk and he hears English from his grandfather and Seminole from her. He

more or less understands if you tell him to do something or go get something or

just talk to him; he understands. But, he babbles. He does not speak, clearly.

E: I am trying to understand. You just mentioned something about the preservation

aspect being kind of important for passing on some of these skills and I wonder if

you see that it is important because other people are not doing it, or it is

important just because it is important to pass it on.

P: I guess it is just, personally, important to me. Maybe I see it as a tribute to my

grand parents. Because they taught me and I have taught my kids and I want my

grand daughter to know. Because I grew up listening to my grand father say that

there will be a day when nobody will even know the Seminole language; the arts

and crafts; the way of the Seminole. He said there would be a day. That day will

come when everybody will probably be speaking one language and it will

probably be English. I hear him, everyday, telling me these things. And I just

want to keep it going for as long as we can.

E: He would say that sort of thing for a long time?

P: Yes.

E: And you still reflect on that.

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P: Yeah. And for as long as he has been gone, I can still hear his voice, today. It is

like he is standing right next to me or in front of me. I would not want to forget. I

would not want there to be a day when I did not hear him. So, I think that is what

keeps me going. Because I always go back to what he used to say and I would

tell my girls, well, grandpa used to say this, or grandma used to say this. And I

try to keep it going that way. My girls knew my grandparents before they died so

they have heard a lot of the things and it was so funny. They had a store over

here. Before they tore it down, and my youngest daughter, Cheyenne, wanted a

quarter to come over and buy ice cream. We just lived right over here and there

was not any fence around here so you could just walk across the field and come

to the store and get your ice cream. And she said he was hard of hearing and

she would say, grandpa (but she was speaking in Seminole), grandpa, give me a

quarter. And he said what are you going to do with a quarter? She said I am

going to buy ice cream, but she would say ice cream in Seminole and she would

say Tulubodkee, which is not really how you say it. But she was trying to she

was pronouncing it a little off. She was only about two or three or something like

that and he would say, what? She would say it, again. And he could not

understand her and she was trying to show him what she was talking about. And

he goes, Oh, you are talking about ice cream. And he said ice cream in English.

And that was just so funny. I can still hear it like it was yesterday. And I tease

her about that all of the time. And she says, yeah, I remember that. She said I

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should have just said Ice cream to begin with. But, it is just little stories like that

make me want to keep the language alive for as long as possible for as long as

I am alive.

E: Did your grand parents used to go to the Green Corn Dance?

P: Not since I have been born.

E: Were they involved with the church?

P: Yes. They were born again Christians by the time I was born. My grandfather

was an ordained deacon for a lot of years over here at the First Baptist Church.

My grandmother did a lot for the church with the women's club at the church and

stuff like that. And we grew up as Christians. I had never been to the Green

Corn Dance, before in my life. I have never even been to the grounds where

they have the Green Corn Dance.

E: Still?

P: Not even, today. No. I have never been. She always used to tell me that, you

know hat is the old way; that is the way that we do not go, anymore. It is not

accepted through Christianity or whatever. Of course, it was a religious

ceremony. The religion that they believed in was paying homage to our Creator.

She said that she remembers her grandparents praying and this is before

Christianity or missionaries or other influences came into the tribe. But she

remembers her grandparents, praying to someone, thanking them for things.

She said that is something that we do not do, anymore, so I was forbidden to go.

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It was some place that all of us kids were forbidden to go. I, myself, do not really

care to go but I have given my kids a choice, if they want to go and experience it,

then they have their maternal grandparents that can take them and participate.

And they have gone with them. I said that I, myself, did not really care to go -

even at that age. I never did mention anything about going.

E: Whom were they going with? Your daughters went...

P: Yeah, my daughters have been, before.

E: By themselves...

P: With their father's mother. Their grandparents... But, I have never been.

E: So, you are in Panther clan, did you say?

P: Yes.

E: Their father's mother is in what clan?

P: Wind clan.

E: So, they went to the wind clan. Was that a problem?

P: No, because they were little they were eight or nine, when they went. And they

had to be chaperoned, anyway. And so, they went with their father's Mother. It

is just that they basically, teach you the same thing. But if you are with your

family, then you go to your clan to their chickees and to their camps and stuff.

Since they wanted to go and they wanted to experience what it was about, I told

them they could go, if they wanted to. I was not going to forbid them. If there

was something they were old enough to decide for themselves.

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E: Have they gone more recently, do you think?

P: No.

E: It is not something they took up as a regular practice?

P: No. They speak the language but they are not very traditional. I am not, either,

really, because I grew up in a Christian home. And my grandparents were

always taking us to church. And Christianity was a big thing in our family. There

was a lot of traditional things but it was not overbearing, I guess you would say,

or overpowering. But, where you had to learn.

E: Did your Mom go to the Green Corn Dance?

P: No.

E: She followed the same practice.

P: Yes. She did not go to church but she always said that we should go and she

always sent us with our grandparents. But she worked most of the time almost

seven days a week, sometimes. With eight kids, she had to.

E: She would be working, anyway. So, your grandparents saw it as incompatible:

Christianity and things like the Green Corn Dance. Do you see it that way, now?

I mean, you gave your kids permission to go. So, you do not see it exactly, the

same way?

P: No. I always respected my grandparents wishes but then, you know, when I

became an adult and had my own children, you know, I more or less, had my

own values on life. I have always raised my girls to be independent; make their

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own choices, good or bad, one way or the other; they are going find out if it was

good or bad. If they should have or not. Even today, they are both not married.

Even if they want to have boyfriends, they tell them, this is how I am. If you do

not like it, take it or leave it. Because my youngest one, she is very independent

and she will say, I will get up and go anywhere, anytime, I want. If you want to

tag along, fine. If I do not want you to be there, that is good. And they are both

like that. And I have always given them a choice. I have never held them back,

about anything. But, with the language, I have always spoken to them in

Seminole and their Dad did not graduate or finish school, so he did not speak

English very well. His Mother did not speak English, at all. So, English was

something only learned at school and only used at school. So, when they were

growing up, that is all he spoke to them in, is Seminole. To me, that is not a job

or a chore, or whatever, that was just part of who you were and who you are. So,

I made sure they learned that. But, everything else, they have always had a


E: Earlier, we talked about infant mortality and you talked about diarrhea and

preventable illnesses. I am curious, today, what you see as the major health

issues that people face, here on Big Cypress.

P: Alcoholism and Drug abuse, Diabetes, obesity. We have been very lucky. There

have been a few cases of communicable diseases. We have maybe, lost three

of four tribal members to AIDS. But, we have lost a lot of them through

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alcoholism; driving drunk, drug abuse. There have been a lot of non-Indians who

have come on to the reservation. Well, a lot of the drugs, the tribal members,

themselves, bring in. But, others have brought it in and there have been

shootings and other problems.

E: That is very different, then.

P: Diabetes is the biggest problem, I believe, with the elders and some of the young

people. My oldest sister has Diabetes.

E: Where do they go for help for Diabetes?

P: We have a clinic on the reservation: Indian Health Service.

E: Do a lot of people use healers medicine people outside of the clinic?

P: Yes. We used to have a doctor named Dr. David Hilton, I believe it was. He

believed there was a lot of good through Indian medicine and he would

incorporate the two. He would say, if I can not help you, go to the Medicine man

or the Medicine Woman and maybe, she can help you. A lot of people have

asthma or upper respiratory problems. And they would use sassafras tea to calm

the asthma attacks and we use bay leaves like aromatherapy -just the burning of

the bay leaves, itself, has like a calming sense to it. It sort of calms you. But,

they use a lot of bay leaves. I guess you would call it water willow. I am not

sure. It looks like a weeping willow but it is usually alongside the roads by the

ditches and canals. They use a lot of that root and sassafras.

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E: These are things that most people know? Or are these specialists the only ones

who know these kinds of things?

P: Even in the non-Indian world, these have medicinal purposes. For instance, you

do not see a lot of prostate cancer in the men. I would say, sixty and older. And

then, nowadays, you can go to a drugstore and get these tablets that are Saw

Palmetto the berries from that. They say they use that and it is supposed to cut

down on prostate cancer. Well, the Indians ate a lot of that the berries from the

Saw Palmetto. I mean, that was part of their diet. So, that is why you do not see

a lot of prostate cancer. If there is anybody that has prostate cancer, they are

either fifty-five and younger -maybe fifty-five to forty. That is what I was telling

one of the doctors at the clinic. They wanted me to explain to the elders, those

senior men, that they need to start checking. They should start going to the clinic

and start being checked for prostate cancer. They did not understand what it

was. And I told them that I think you need to get an Indian man to explain to

them because they were wondering what in the world I was talking about. It does

not bother me, because I have gone through nursing and all this kind of stuff and

worked in hospitals and nursing homes and stuff like that. But they were not sure

I should not be talking to them like that. But I told them before, it is going to be

very rare, if you do find prostate cancer in an elderly man a Seminole on the

reservation. A lot of them ate a lot of those berries from the saw palmetto. And

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today, they claim that keeps it from happening. I guess it is true because you do

not find it in the Seminole men not the older ones, anyway.

E: I had not known about saw palmettos. I have seen it. Also, I did not know about

the doctor who would encourage people to talk to a healer if they were coming to


P: He said it as if they could go ahead and get a second opinion. It was how I

looked at it, anyway.

E: Do you feel like most people probably do that sort of thing?

P: Yeah.

E: Do you do that?

P: No. I very seldom go to the clinic or doctors or whatever.

E: What about herbal medicines?

P: No. I do not know. I just do not really believe in it. It is just something that never

really caught me attention. I have never used them. Maybe, they used it on me

when I was little. But it is just something that I have never gone into or thought

about. Today, they still use things like that but a lot of people still believe in it. It

is more or less, just faith healing, I think. A lot of things if you believe it is going

to help you it will. And a lot of things really do have medicinal purposes some

of the herbs that they use.

E: I guess I want to come back, a little bit, to talking about the elders, as we try to

wind this down a bit. When you were growing up, was there anything like what

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you are doing, right now, for elders? Was there any situation where elders came

together and ate? Or were there institutions that people had that took care of

just, elders?

P: No. There was not when I was growing up. This has only been, I would say,

close to twenty-five years since they have started this program. And Patsy, the

head cook, she has been at this job for almost twenty years. With the Seminole

people, it is new. It is something new. It is still new, I think. Our seniors, or what

we consider seniors, or who we consider eligible for this program is fifty-five and

older. It was sixty but all of our elders were dying off and we hardly had any

clients coming in so we lowered it to fifty-five.

E: They were dying from...

P: ...Old age or natural death or disease or whatever. We lost three of them to

cancer, recently.

Tape change....

P: Some of the elders that are coming in are just learning to like eating other foods

in the last twenty years, other than what their parents or grandparents fixed. They

have eaten more things other than traditional foods, like the softski and the fry

bread and the wild game. Gosh, I ate so much venison in my life; I do not even

want to smell venison, cooking.

E: So, is it kind of tough, do you think, for some of the older people? You

mentioned some about the diet. Is it kind of tough for them to be facing this diet?

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Do you get the impressions that people are expected something different out of

being an elder than what they are facing these days?

P: Well, we have only, maybe, three or four who are really that old who might have

expected those things would be different. They thought maybe, their children or

their grandchildren would be around to take care of them, feed them what they

were used to eating. Because, even today, when I delivered a breakfast and

lunches either they have already had their breakfast or they are cooking their

lunch. And then, they will save their food and then, maybe have it that evening.

But, even then they are still cooking, that evening. Because some times I will

visit after I get off of work,

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