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Interview with Mrs. Mae Bodiford Blue December 30 1971

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Title:
Interview with Mrs. Mae Bodiford Blue December 30 1971
Creator:
Blue, Mae Bodiford ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:
Language:
English

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Subjects / Keywords:
Catawba Indians -- Florida
Kataba Indians -- Florida
Catawba Oral History Collection ( local )

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Funding:
This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

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Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Catawba' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
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Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

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SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


In cooperation with the Catawba Nation


INTERVIEWEE: Mae Bodiford Blue
INTERVIEWER: L. Whitesell


DATE: December 30, 1971






















W: Bodiford Blue at her residence on Route 3, Rock Hill. Lebrum
Whitesell, interviewer.
All right, Mae, I'd like for you to tell me, if you will,
how you came to be related to the Catawba Indians.

B: Well, I was in Rock Hill [Rock Hill, S.C.] at the time when I
was kindly looking around for some members of the church, and
I ran into some of the Catawbas where I was working in a cotton
mill. I find out that they were church members, and from then
on I had a place to go to church; so I went with them down on
the Catawba reservation to church on Sundays. Then we had a
little church here in Rock Hill. We had a church in an old
drugstore building, and the members here--there was very few of
them at that time--went to church here.
I got acquainted with the Blue family, and I fell in love
with one of the Blue boys, and we were married in 1933. And
then we moved down on the old reservation, and lived next to
his father and mother, Chief Sam Blue and his wife. We stayed
there for about eight or ten years, and we got a chance to
move off the reservation onto a place of our own. They had de-
cided to give the Indians some land where they could have a
place to expand, and we moved out up near Rock Hill, where we
live to this day.
I enjoyed very much my life on the reservation. The country-
side was about like the place where I was born and raised in
Alabama, and it seemed a whole lot like home to me. We had six
children on the reservation before we moved away. Our second
son--next to the last son--was three weeks old when we moved to
this place where we live now, and we've been living here ever
since, and we had one other child. We had seven children.
Our children first started to school on the reservation, and
Willard Hayes was the teacher. He came there to live, and he
lived at my home and boarded with us the first year that he taught
school there. That was when I only had two children. My oldest
son started to school to him on the reservation, but we later moved
away, and they all finished their schooling here where we live now.
They went to the Rock Hill schools.
Chief Blue was a fine man. I learned to love him and his wife
as if they had been my own father and mother. I noticed right
after we first moved to the reservation that there was a little...
well, I don't know whether you'd call it jealousy, or what, be-
cause I've always been a person that liked to do things; I never









2







could sit down and feel sorry for myself and not do things.
I always had to have flowers in the yard, and I wanted a
garden and chickens and things of that sort. So I was always
busy doing these things, and my husband had been fired from
his job. He had been black balled, and he couldn't get work.
So he went to work cutting cordwood and just doing little odd
things that he could to bring in money.
About this time we found out that we were going to have a
baby, and it was pretty rough on us. But one day Chief Blue
said, "Daughter, we all make pottery here; the womenfolks do."
That's what they did for a living. The men didn't do any work,
much. Now, Chief Blue was always working. He was in the gar-
den or in the yard, and he just kept that place clean and spotless
all the time. You just wouldn't know how he done it with all the
other work he did. But he said to me one day, he says, "Why don't
you learn to make pottery? I imagine you could make enough to
maybe buy your food for the week from one week to the next."
I just accidentally picked up a piece of clay that his wife
was working with, and molded out a little duck; from that to a
little turtle and a canoe and little ashtrays and things, and I
found out that I had a knack for doing this. And I did pretty
good with it, because after I got started and learned that I could
make it...well, I learned the trade from them as to how they
finished it up. They molded it, and then they trimmed it down
real smooth, and scraped it, and they took a little rock and they
rubbed it so it was real slick. When it got real good and dry,
they heated it in a fire. I usually would just clean out the
fireplace, and just set it around the back and the side of the
fireplace until it got real black, got hot, and then I would put
it into the fire and build fire on it and burn it until it was
real black. And we put chips on this to spot it. It would come
out...sometimes it was so pretty, I wanted to keep it myself, and
not sell it. Now that's the truth.

W: What colors was the pottery that you made?

B: It was black and white and red.

W: Did you ever paint yours?

B: No, we never painted. The fire did the work.

W: Did you ever think about painting yours to make it different?

B: No, I never thought about it, because you was always so anxious
to get it out of the fire that just see, you know, where the









3







spots were, and sometimes it would just look like it had been
painted; just like nature had painted it, you know. I don't
think there would have been anything we could have done to make
it look prettier than what it did.

W: You think, then, that letting nature take its course in the fire
had a lot to do with the outcome of the pottery?

B: That's the truth! That's the truth! It's a whole lot different
to what they make today. You know, I have been to this place
where they make this...what do you call it?

W: Ceramics?

B: Ceramics. And they do a lot of painting there. Now, I don't
think I'd like to do that, because I don't believe I'm gifted
at that. I'd rather just do it the old Indian way, you know.

W: Did you sell your pottery?

B: I sold every piece I ever made. I couldn't hardly make it fast
enough, because I'm a person that always took pains, you know,
and just a lot of patience with the finishing it up, and burn it
real good. You could take one of the pots that I made, and fill
it full of water, and put flowers in it, and you can stay there.
But a lot of them, they was in a rush, you know. They wanted to
hurry it up. Maybe they had someone coming to buy it, or just
to get it on sale; they didn't burn it good, and it would melt
down when they put the water in it--just go back to its natural
from. But I never had a piece to do that.

W: Did you sell pottery for a long period of time? How long did
you sell?

B: I guess I sold pottery for about ten or twelve years.

W: Did you quit? Why did you quit?

B: Well, I got a job in a cotton mill after my children got up some
size. Of course, I could make more money; that was money that
I knew would be there every week, you know. So I took this job,
and I just got away from pottery making.

W: Do you think that's the reason why most people quit making pottery--
because they got work some place else that paid more, and it was
a sure thing?

















B: Well, now, I don't think so. I think most of them, the reason
they quit, you know, it was just a summertime job. They couldn't
work easy in the winter, because the pottery would crack, and
you couldn't dry it properly. What they did, all through the
summer months, or if they couldn't make enough to last the whole
year round...well, they just didn't have any in the wintertime,
because they couldn't make it. They didn't have the heated
homes like we have now, and it was bad on the hands--make your
hands rough, and they would crack up. I think some of them,
their husbands, women, did get out and go to work, and some of
them's husbands got out and found work after they got to where
they would give them jobs on the outside. So they are just com-
pletely getting away from it; very few of them that makes it now.

W: What other ways did they have of making a living when your first
came down to the reservation?

B: That was the only way. Some of the men would get out and cut
cordwood, but there just didn't seem to be any jobs available
for them. They had just a little bit of money coming in from
the government for the land that they had leased to the govern-
ment for ninety-nine years, and they paid each one of the Catawbas
a small amount of money once a year. At the time when I come on
the reservation they were getting about twenty-two or twenty-five
dollars a head per year. That was usually spent three or four
times over before the year rolled around, because a lot of people
would let them have the stuff, you know, and when the time came
for them to get their money, they owed so many people, they couldn't
get around to paying their-bills. So it was real bad for them.
During the Depression, I think the Indians really got along
better than they did before, because the government gave a lot of
commodities--meats and beans and stuff of that sort, and they had
more to eat then than they did when there was no depression. And
then, too, people were always coming, you know--people that were
interested in them; especially people that were members of the same
church.
I remember this Mr. Westmoreland, he came in from Gatney, and
he was a truck farmer. When he had a quantity of stuff that he
couldn't sell, he'd just load up his truck and bring it to Catawba,
and the people would just gather round and just get what they
wanted. It was a real help, because it seemed like the people had
never had to do for themselves. They just sat there and waited
for somebody to hand them something, give it to them. And they
were not too industrious. I guess they were a kindly browbeaten
people. They didn't have much to look forward to; their land was
poor, and it was kind of hard to raise stuff on it.









5







I've always liked to raise stuff, and if there's two feet
of ground that nothing's growing on, I had something on it. So
when I first went there, that was the first thing I did, was we
had a little spot at the back of the house, and it was under an
old apple tree. They all laughed at me. They said, "You'll
never raise anything under that tree, because when the tree gets
green, it'll take all the substance from the vegetables, and
you won't have any." But I planted real early, and I had the
prettiest onions and cabbage and turnips there that you ever saw.
It seemed like everybody that came by, they'd stop and...well,
"I didn't think you'd ever have a garden there."
Every year I would try to find a new little spot, and then
Chief Blue began to notice that I like to grow things. One year
he moved his own old barn where he had this horse and cow years
ago, and it was a weak spot. He says, "Well, there's nobody but
me and my wifenow, so you take one half of the garden and I'll
take the other, and we'll see who can have the best garden." And
I raised onions that year that looked like walking sticks, they
grew so tall. And the cabbage and things, they were so big! And
he just said the reason mine outgrew his was because I worked it
all the time. His wife wasn't much of a gardener. He would grow
it and bring it to the house, and she'd prepare it and put it on
the table.

W: Was Chief Blue's wife a full-blooded Indian?

B: Chief Blue's wife was full-blooded.

W: And she was your mother-in-law?

B: That's right.

W: And he was your father-in-law, and you married their son, Leroy.

B: That's right.

W: Was she the only full-blooded Indian at that time?

B: Oh, no. She had a couple of brothers, and there was others.
But I think they're all dead, now. There's no full-blooded
Catawbas left.

W: Was she the last one?

B: I think she was the last full-blooded Catawba.

W: And her brothers? What was her maiden name?









6







B: Canney.

W: What did the other Indians think about you, a white lady,
growing all those vegetables? Did they try to copy you, or
did it bring problems for you?

B: Well, they didn't try to copy me, because I don't think they
liked to get out and work in the garden like I did. But they
were always saying, "I sure would like to have one of those
cabbages. They look real good." And of course I divided with
them, you know. I did everything to make friends with them,
but I felt like that they resented me, because I would do things
that they didn't care about doing, and there was a little resent-
ment there.

W: Do you think the Catawbas were farmers, or were they hunters or
fishermen? What have they done in the past that might have
caused them not to farm when you knew them?

B: Well, I don't think they farmed, because they didn't have anything
to farm with. Now, Chief Blue was the only one I knew of, and I
believe Douglas Harris. He was a farmer. He had a little bit of
land on the bottoms, and he worked that. But him and Chief Blue
was the only two I ever knew of that farmed any. The others, well
they would hunt and fish a lot, and they would cut cordwood if
they got right up to where they didn't have anything to eat in
the house. They would get out and cut a little bit of wood to
get food.

W: They didn't seem to be interested in storing up or making money
for the future?

B: No, no. It's just if they had enough for today. They'd just...
like, "Let this day take care of itself, and we'll see what'll
come tomorrow."

W: Did anyone else besides yourself do much gardening, or try to en-
courage them to garden?

B: Yes, we had this state president...well, he was a mission president,
from Atlanta, Georgia. We were all in the Southern States Mission
at that time. He came to Catawba [Catawba, S.C.] and had conference
there at the little church. You know, about 98 percent of all
Catawba Indians were Latter Day Saints at that time. I think there
was about two families, or two women that had families, that didn't
belong to the church. And he came and he saw the need--that these









7








people needed help. And he didn't want to give them help; he
wanted to give them something so they could help themselves.
He got them all together, had a little meeting there, and he
asked them if he would furnish the gardening tools and the seeds,
would they plant the gardens so they could have fresh vegetables?
There was a lot of sickness among the Catawbas, and he thought
that they needed more fresh vegetables and milk and stuff. Well,
there wasn't any cows on the reservation either. There was about
two, I think.
So he did; he furnished the tools, the garden tools, and
he furnished the seeds, and he gave everybody a chance. He put
a set of tools there, and he says, "Now, when you get through
with your garden, get it planted, you pass this set of tools
on to the next family. Let them use it." And he says, "I'm
going to set up a little thing here where you can own your own
tools. Whoever raised the best garden this year," he says,
"the first best will get a set of garden tools."
So there was a good many of them that planted gardens, and
there's a good many of them that didn't raise very much, because
they figured after they planted the garden that they didn't have
to do anything else. But you know how you have to do a garden.
I remember the last chief we have now that was here when they
settled the reservation terminated...he used to ask me how I
could raise such big cabbage. He said he would put out cabbage,
but they never would head. And I told him that when you put a
cabbage in the ground, you had to stay with that thing, and work
with it, and keep the worms and things out until it headed. If
you didn't, it wouldn't head. He said that's something he never
could do. So I think that's why a lot of them failed. They just
planted the garden, and didn't go back and take care of it like
it should be. So there was only two of us ended up. I ended up
with one set of tools, and Garfield Harris ended up with the other
set.

W: Did they ever send people here, the federal government or the state,
to show the Indians how to work a garden, and how to grow vegetables
and things?

B: No they didn't; not as long as I've been on the reservation they
didn't.

W: Then they really have not, to your knowledge, been taught except
by the people...

B: That's the truth.

W: ...who tried to, on their side, to get them to grow? What did they









8







do to live besides the pottery and the cordwood that they sold?
Can you think of anything else?

B: Well, that's about the only thing. I know the women made the
pottery and the men would take it off. Sometimes, they would
go to Cherokee [Cherokee, N.C.] with it, and sometimes to
Gatlinburg, Tennessee and other places to sell it, and they
would come back and sit around. But sometimes the men would
get the wood and get it ready for to burn the pottery, but the
women did all the work.

W: All right, what about the life among the Catawba Indians? How
did they live? How did they cook their food, for example? Have
you ever eaten in their homes and noticed anything different
about the way they prepared their food, or what would be a...?

B: Well, now, Chief Blue and his wife, they had a stove that they
cooked on; and I think a goodmany of the families did, way back
in the 1930s. But now you wouldn't know the difference, because
they all have it, you know, now. But then, they usually cooked
on the fireplace; cooked in this old oven, they called it. Chief
Blue's wife has cooked ashcakes. She'd clean off the place where
they'd had the fire, and brush the ashes back, and just make up
the big cake of bread and put it there and cover it over with
ashes, you know, and it was real good. You wouldn't think you'd
eat it, but it was real good when she got it cooked.

W: What did it taste like? I mean, could you compare it today to a
pancake or a hoecake or...?

B: Well, yeah, you could, but that ash gave it a different flavor.
It had a different flavor altogether.

W: Was it a smoke flavor, or...?

B: No, it didn't seem like it was smoked. It just had a clean taste,
like.

W: Can you think of anything else that they ate or prepared differently?

B: Well, no, I don't think so. I'll tell you, I just don't know too
much about how they cooked and ate in their homes. But I did
visit Chief's house real often, and we had this school teacher
that stayed with them and ate with them a lot. His wife was a
real good cook, and she would always cook the things that she thought
that Brother Jim Davis liked, you know. And he said that he never
tasted stew beef that anybody cooked that tasted like Sister Blue
cooked.









9







W: She had a different way of preparing it, you think?

B: She had a different way of, I don't know...it seemed like she
just put it in the pot and cooked it like I would. But it had
a different taste. I don't know what she put in it.

W: You don't know what she added?

B: No, I don't.

W: How about the Indians and their children? How did they treat
their children?

B: Well, it seems to me like that the ones that I knew about was
real crazy about their children. They wanted the best that they
could have for them, you know. But back in those days in the
1930s, there wasn't too much. It's just what clothes that the
people would come in from off the reservation. Like this Mrs.
Crowder that taught at Winthrop Training School. She would come
down every Thanksgiving and her students would all bring clothes
and things that they had outgrown or had discarded, and they
would trade them to the Indians for their children. The Indian
children...you hardly ever saw them with something new on. It
was something that they had got from someone else.

W: Actually, did the parents push their children to go to school,
or did they try real hard to get them educated?

B: No, they didn't, because...I think the reason for this was that
they figured that what little education they could get on the
reservation would be all they'd ever get, because the schools
outside the reservation would not accept the children. They
couldn't go to the other schools at that time. But later on, in
later years, they have discarded their schools on the reservation,
and now we find Indian children in the high schools and the col-
leges, and there's no school on the reservation at this time.

W: How about your own children? Did they ever go to school there?

B: Yes, I had one son that started to school on the reservation, and
then we moved away and he moved here, and he was the first boy
out of the Catawba tribe to graduate from one of the white schools.

W: Now which son was that?









10








B: That was Lavonne.

W: About when did he graduate?

B: I believe it was in the 1950s.

W: Did you have any difficulties getting your children to school
on the reservation? Were there problems there in the school
getting them...?

B: No, there was no problem. We lived right close to the school.

W: How did they get their books?

B: I'm not sure whether their books was furnished, or whether we
had to...I believe they were though. I believe they got free
books.

W: Were they trained at home in any particular way of life?

B: No, I don't think they were.

W: Did the Indians hand down any customs--the language, for example--
to their children? Did they try to keep some of the words?

B: No, that's something...when Chief Blue died, he was the last one
to speak the Catawba language. There's very few of them that
can speak any of it today.

W: Did they try to get their children to mingle with the white man
a lot, and just to go ahead and become like the white man, or...?

B: Well, now, there was a few that married out of the reservation.
They married white women, and naturally they moved off and got
jobs out in Rock Hill and vicinities where they were close to
the reservation. Their children mixed with the white people, but
it seems like the white people in York County would just...I don't
know, they wanted to keep the Indian down. They didn't want him
to rise up and make anything out of himself. I remember when
Mildred Blue, she was one of the first Catawba girls to graduate
from Rock Hill High School, and she said that she had difficulty
in staying in school because they was always calling her "squaw."
And she told me that one time she came out in the hall changing
classes and one of them called her squaw, and she just took it as
long as she could, and she turned around and says, "Well, I know
who I am, but you--do you know who you are?"









11







W: All right. She did stick it out, though, and graduate?

B: Yes, she stuck it out and graduated.

W: Do you think the other children had those problems, too?

B: Yes, they did. I know my oldest daughter had that same prob-
lem, and for that reason she didn't graduate.

W: Can you think of an incident that happened?

B: Yes, her first year in high school they started talking to her
about "You old Indian," and "You old squaw," or things like that.
And she just couldn't take it. So she'd come home and set down
and just cry, you know, "Mama, I don't want to go to that school.
They call me old Indian and old squaw." And she went on until
about the middle of the first year, and she ran away from home.

W: And it was because of that?

B: It was because of the treatment that she got at the school.

W: Did you go over, or her dad, and say anything to them about it?

B: We talked to the principal about it, and he said that he tried
to keep all these things under control, but he said he knew
from what had happened that he didn't. He said you couldn't be
with the students at all times, and he just didn't know what
went on when he wasn't around.

W: Do you think that this treatment, maybe, that the Indian received
made him a little more backwards?

B: I do. I believe he kindly pushed him, kindly caused him to kind
of go into a shell, you know, and not come forward like he should.

W: What about the religion of the Indians? You mentioned earlier
that they were Mormons; do you know how they became Mormons, and
what happened?

B: Well, I've heard Chief Blue say about the missionaries coming to
the reservation, and they began to teach them who they were and
how they got here, and they had this Book of Mormon that they
gave them to read, and they taught them. They even had Book of
Mormon classes with them to teach them about the Book of Mormon
and about their ancestors. There had been other churches that
had come there, and a few people had joined, but he said right









12







off when the missionaries come in and started to teaching them
about who they were, and how they got to this country, that it
just come natural for all of them to fall right in with the
church, because they believed that they had the truth.

W: Did the Indians join the Mormon church because of the doctrine
of the church, or because of the way that they were treated by
the missionaries?

B: Well, I think it was both. You know, the missionaries didn't
make any difference. They would go into their homes and stay
just like they were in their own homes, and then the people
there, they seemed to know that what the missionaries had was
the truth. So they accepted it as such.

W: Did the church help the Indians in any way to grow?

B: Yes, they have. Since the Indians have received the Gospel,
they have become a more...well, they're delightful people;
they're beautiful to look upon; I think they're all just as
beautiful as can be. They have come forward, and you can see
that light shining in their faces that never was there before.

W: How about the tribe itself? How is it organized?

B: I don't know about that.

W: Did you ever go to any tribal meetings?

B: Not until the federal government stepped in and offered the
Indians more land, and they promised to help them build homes
and to get them off the little poor spot of land that they had
you know, so they could do something for theirself. Well,
they promised them to build homes for them, but that's one
thing they fell down on. They never did go through with that.
They let each man select his home where they was.
Now, this old place we live on here, this was an old house,
and it was just about ready to fall down when we moved into it.
It was first given to Nelson Blue. He was the older brother,
and his family said they had lived in town too long. They didn't
want to come out here in the country to live. So he told his
brother, Herbert Blue, his next oldest brother. "Well," he says,
"we're not gonna move out there, so maybe you'd like to have it."
Well, Herbert Blue came out and he kindly cleaned up a little bit
and put one coat of paint on a couple of the rooms, and his wife
and children decided that they didn't want to come out here to









13








stay. We were on the old reservation at the time, so they told
Leroy--says, "Well, if you want that place, you and your wife
and children go out there to stay." So we moved in, and we re-
modeled the old house. We lowered the ceilings--the ceilings
was about ten or twelve foot tall--and we lowered the ceilings,
and put celatex overhead and sheetrock, and fixed up the outside,
and we changed it around and remodeled and built on a bathroom,
and we paneled all the rooms except the living room and the kit-
chen, and we've got it livable now.

W: The government promised the Indians that they would help them
build homes?

B: They told them that they would help them to build homes, but
they just...when they gave the land to them, they said, "Well,
the only home you'll ever get is to borrow money on your land."
A lot of the Indians did that. They went and borrowed money,
and they didn't have jobs to pay this money back, so they lost
their land. So you'll find them now, a good many of them living
in little rented homes wherever they can find a place to live.
They don't have a piece of ground of their own at all.

W: They couldn't pay the mortgage, you mean, on the houses they
built?

B: They couldn't, no. They couldn't; they didn't even build a
house. They just borrowed the money, and they couldn't pay it
back. The Indians never had any money, and they actually didn't
know what to do with it when they got it. Some of them, instead
of taking the land, they took the money. They paid them the money.
I remember this one family, they had about fourteen children,
and they got several thousand dollars. The man carried the money
around in his pocket, and they bought bicycles and necklaces--
one thing and another, you know, luxuries that their family wanted.
And first thing, their money was all gone, and they had lost their
little...they didn't have any place to stay. They had to get out
and rent them a little shack somewhere to live in.

W: Did this happen to the majority of the Indians?

B: Well, I think no, not the majority. I believe that about one-
third of them.

W: About this division of the land, and taking the money and the land--
was it a good thing?

B: Well, I think it was a good thing for those that looked at it in
the way that they should have, because they didn't have anything.









14







They just had a place to live on the old land, and it was so
poor they couldn't make a living for their family, and they
couldn't borrow money on it because the old reservation is held
in common--it still belongs to the state, South Carolina. If
you saw a piece of land that you wanted to build a house on,
and you went and cleaned it up and built a house on it, then
you could live there as long as you wanted to. You see, nobody
has a claim on it. So I think it was a good thing, because
I know for us here that it really helped us. We have really
grown, and our children have all kept their land. None of them
have done away with their land, so now they all have homes on
their land, and they're doing good.

W: Going back to this thing about dividing it up, and that 640 acres,
that old reservation....

B: 652 acres.

W: Why does the state own that?

B: Well, I just don't know. It was just a place given to the Indians
when they settled up, pushed them off on that reservation down
there, you know. They gave them that 652 acres to live on, but,
you see, they could never sell it, and they could never borrow
money on it or anything. It was just a place to live as long as
they lived.

W: Are there very many living on that now?

B: Yes, there's a good many living on it, because some of those
took their land and sold it. They took the money, in other
words, and they went back and fixed up the old house they were
living in on the reservation. And some have even built good
homes down there on the old reservation.

W: Could any Indian now go down there?

B: Yes.

W: Clear him a spot?

B: Yes.

W: There still is some land left.

B: They are still, when they get out of a place to live...if they
can buy them a house trailer, or something of that sort, they
can put it back on the reservation and live there.









15








W: So they can actually have some land?

B: Yeah.

W: Do they farm any of that land?

B: No. I think that there's a few river bottoms down there that
they rent out to white people, and they have got some of it
fenced in for cattle, and some of it they grow corn and stuff
on it.

W: Now, who gets the money from the rentals?

B: Well, whoever rented it out.

W: Oh, so any Indian can go down there?

B: No. You see, these old river bottoms were what they used to
farm on, and the people that owned these or farmed them claimed
them as their own. They passed them on when they died, you know.
Their children took up, you know. "Well, that was my daddy's old
river bottom, so I'll rent them out." Or each one had a piece,
you know, that they called their own because they worked it.

W: So even though some of them don't own that land, they in a
way do, because they're passing it on, whoever claimed part of
it.

B: No, they don't any of them own it. That's just a custom that
they have created among themselves, you know.

W: Just pass it on? What do you think has helped the Indians the
most?

B: Well, I think the Gospel of Jesus Christ being taught to them
has helped them more than anything else.

W: What do you think has been the most harmful for them? What has
hurt them the most?

B: Well, I think when they rented this land out for ninety-nine
years, and they gave them such a little amount, it took all of
their will to try to do something for themselves away from them.
You know, I don't think it's good to give people something that...
just hand it out to them. I think if they don't work for it,
they don't enjoy it, and they get to the place where they really









16








don't know what work is. They just, "Well, if I can get it
without working for it, that's what I'll do." It kills their
ambition, I think.

W: Do you think the Catawbas now have more ambition than they did
when you first met them?

B: Yes, I do. Yes, they are different people now to what they
were when I first met them. There's still a few that is still
in that old backward rut, but the most of them have come for-
ward and is out on their own. They have got jobs, and have
built theirself good homes, and some of them have even got their
children in colleges now.

W: What do you see in the future for the Catawba Indians?

B: Well, I just couldn't hardly answer that, because I think it's
up to the Catawba, what he does with his future.

W: Do you think he's mingled most with the white man that he will
go the way of the white community?

B: Yes, I do, because the most of the young people now...you hardly
ever see an Indian marry back into the tribe, because they're all
related. They want to get out, you know, and marry out of the
tribe, because they don't want to marry their kin. Now, you can
hardly tell a Catawba when you see one, you see. I've got four
grandchildren, and their hair is just as pretty and blond, and
their eyes is just as blue as anything, because my son married
a white girl. The younger child don't show too much of their
Indian.

W: Do you think that there will be any militant Indians trying to
change their situation in this tribe like you read about in
other tribes?

B: I don't know. Sometimes I think maybe that some of them might
think about it, but now whether they'll ever do it or not, I
don't know.

W: Is there anything else that you can think of that has happened
to you living here that might be interesting to others, unex-
perienced?

B: Well, I feel like that in the almost thirty-nine years that I've
been associated with the Catawbas, that at last I have been
accepted as one of them. Now, that's something that I have al-
ways worked forward to, because I knew that I was going to be









17








living with them all my life, and I wanted to become one of them
and wanted to help them in any way that I could. I have actually
got some real good friends among the Catawbas. I feel like that
they're just as close to me as my own kin, but there's still
some that, you know, they're kindly bitter towards the white man.
I guess all white people, because of the treatment that they re-
ceived at their hands.

W: How did they treat you when you first got married; came down here?

B: Well, outside of Chief Blue and his wife and two or three others,
they were quite distant. They didn't accept me at all.

W: What did you try to do to bring a change?

B: Well, I tried to be friendly with all of them, and I'd visit in
their homes. Anything that I could help them with, or anything
that I could share with them, I always did that. I feel like
that, and living a good life in front of them to let them see
what kind of a person I am, has helped me a lot.

W: Did they think maybe you were too forward, or trying to be smart,
or show them up? Or were they shy?

B: Well, I feel like that they thought that I was just different,
and maybe they didn't want to change. They wanted to stay the
way they were. I felt like that they have always kinda resented
my children, because I raised my children up different to what
they did. I taught my children how to work, and they have all
proven to me that that teaching has sunk in, because every one
of them is smart and industrious. They have homes of their own,
and they don't have to feel like that they're ashamed of their
race, the white or the Indian.

W: Are your children proud to have Catawba blood in them?

B: Yes, they are. They're very proud, because that is one thing
I think I have always taught them to never.... I have seen peo-
ple that have married outside of the tribe into the white tribe,
and their children would not even speak to the Indians, you know.
They felt like that they were better than them, but I've always
taught my children to always be proud of their blood.

W: Do your grandchildren live here, too, on the reservation, or...?

B: Well, I have two daughters that married Indians in other tribes,
and they live in New Mexico. And one daughter, well they both,
married the Laguna, married into the Laguna tribe, and their









18








children are real nice. They look more like Indians than any
of my other grandchildren, because their father and mother both
are Indian.

W: And the father is a Laguna?

B: A Laguna Indian.

W: And where are they living?

B: They're living in New Mexico.

W: Is that a large tribe?

B: No, I don't think the Laguna's too large. They come from a
little place down in southern New Mexico, a little place called
Paguate. That's where the son-in-laws are from. It's not a
very big tribe, but they're real proud, and they're educated,
and both the boys have college educations and have Master's
degrees. One of them is working in this Atomic City in Los
Alamos. All his work is secret. The other one works with the
government in schools.

W: Do you think looking back now over your years that any particu-
lar thing could have made a change for the Catawbas?

B: Well, I feel like if the Catawba hadn't been so down-trodden,
and that they had been taken an interest in, in earlier years,
that this generation coming up now would have been a whole lot
better off than what they are.

W: What kind of interest? What should have been done for them
earlier?

B: Well, they should have been allowed to went into other schools
and learned trades so they could have taken care of theirself.

W: All right.