Interview with Pam Thatcher September 26 1972

Material Information

Interview with Pam Thatcher September 26 1972
Thatcher, Pam ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:


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


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.

Record Information

Source Institution:
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
Rights Management:
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Interviewer: Whitesell

Subject: Pam Thatcher

Date: Sept. 26, 1972

I: This is an interview with Pam Thatcher, Sept. 26 in the

classroom, Rock Hill High School, Mrs. Whitesell doing

the interview. Pam, tell us about yourself

S: My name is Doris Pamela Thatcher. I live one mile off the

Catawba Indian reservation. I have three brothers and one

sister. I live at home. I've lived--I've lived on the

reservation most all of my life except for about 3

years I lived in Mass-cW&SAWS

I: Alright, uhm, where does your dad work?

S: He's a painter.

E Is this what carried you into other states?

S: Yes mam.

I: Did you find that you gained some experiences living in

a state like MassiAthat you might not have gained back on

the reservation?

S: No, I don't think so. I was to.young.

I: You were just a small child there. Uh, when you moved back to

the reservation, did you go to school on the reservation?

S: Yes mam. My first four years in school were on the reservation.

I: Do you remember who your teachers were?

S: Yes mam. We had two teachers for four grades. One teacher for

first and second grade, and another teacher for third and fourth.

I: Do you remember their names?

CAT 55 A page 2

S: Yes mam, Mrs. Poinis(?) was our first and second grade teacher

and Mrs. Robinson was third and fourth grade teacher.

I: Did you enjoy going to school at that early age?

S: Yes mam.

I: Did you have a lot of fun outside the classrooms during the

school day?

S: Yes mam. We stayed outside most all the time.

I: Well, I noticed you have a from playing football,

I suppose you like sports.

S: I love it.

1! What are some of the things you enjoy?

S: I love dancing, for one thing and I love swimming and I love

badmitton and football.

I: Uh huh. What were some of the courses that you studied in

school on the reservation?

S: We just studied first grade stuff, I guess__ had math


I: Well, what grade were you in when you left the school on

the reservation?

S: I startedto go to Leslie Elementary when went into the 5th grade.

I: Did your parents move, or what caused this change?

S: No mam. Uh, the Catawba school only went through grades 1 thru

4th so, I had to go to Leslie.

I: Uh huh. Was it a big change for you?

S: Yes mam. It was too big.

CAT 55 A page 3

I: can you remember?

S: I wanted t go home every day, which I did.

I: You did? How did you manage that?

S: I'd jsgt call my mother and she came and picked me up. I

told her I was sick most of the time.

I: Uh huh. I wonder why you felt that way?

S: I don't know. I was too scared, I think.

I: Do you have any idea why_ something like that?

S: I didn';ave any people I knew in my classes.

I: What happened to the other students o-the reservation?

Were they in Leslie too?

S: Yes mam, but it--it was just--they were all spread out.

I: Uh huh, quite a change. Uh, how long did it take you

to get adjusted?

S: About a year.

I; What do you think now? Looking back, do you think you were

better off making the change to Leslie, or would you have been

better-staying at Catawba for a few more years?

S: I don't think if I stayed in Catawba that I would have

been as well educated because once I got adjusted to Leslie,

I got along real good with the other kids and the teachers.

I: Uhm, what were some to the things that you did

You think you can remember some of the things that you


S: We used to play all kinds of games at recess. Used to play

tag, andhen we'd play ball. We used to play everything.

I: Did you have difficulty getting to school?

CAT 55 A page 4

S: No mam. In the first thru the fourth grades, the bus

took us as far as the school. We had to walk home after

school because it didn't come by, and then, when we went

to Leslie, the bus would take us out there and bring us

back home.

I: Uh huh, so you didn't have any big problem there.

S: No.

I: When you went toleslie, did you feel discriminated against,

or did anyone say anything to hurt your feelings?

S: No, they couldn't tell I was Indian.

I: Okay. Uhm, uh, just how did you manage being an Indian

with youlonde hair and blue eyes?

S: I'm one fourth Indian, I'm part Catawba and part Oneida (?)

My father is part Oneida and Catawba. My mother is almost

all white.

I: Oh, your father has Oneida. Is this an Indian tribe too?

S: Yes mam.

I: Well, tell us something about that! Do you know anything?

S: I don't know much about it except that it's mostly in

Wisconsin, where they came from.

I: Uh huh. Uh, and this is another tribe and your father is

from that. That's very interesting. So, you have Oneida

and Catawba, blood.'

S: Yes mam.

I: Alright uhm, but, it is difficult to tell you are an Indian.

S: It is.

I: Do your other brothers and sisters look like you, or do

they resemble Indians a little more?

CAT 55 A page 5

S: My brothers--two of them have dark hair and dark skin,

But, my little brother has blonde hair and brown eyes

and, he's not dark skinned at all. My sister is just

like me

I: Uh huh. What do you think is going to happen in a few more

years with this business of Indians becoming blondes with

blue eyes?

S: You can't find a dark skinned Indian anymore. Not down where

I live.

I: Uh huh. Do you think that this is gonna be good, if you

won't be able to be an Indian?

S: N', I was brought up by this thing about, 'you know you're

an Indian, and if u show it, you should be very proud of


I: What would you like to see happen with this business of

your Indian culture?

S: I don't know.

I: Your past, would you like to know the language, or the songs

or making pottery, or things like this?

S: I wouldn't like to make pottery because I've seen my grand-

mother do it a lot and I don't think I'd enjoy that, but,

this language, I've seen some and my cousin speaks a little.

It's hard.

I: You think it's difficult to learn.

S: Yes mam.

I: Uh, what would you like for the Catawbas to do as a tribe,


CAT 55 A page 7

S: I don't know, we used to uh, put on war dances and stuff

for little kids birthday parties and show them what

Indians looked like but, most of us were almost all

white, so they didn't know what they were seeing.

I: Uh huh, just the costumes to play in, uh, to

them. Do you think the day's coming real soon, when uh

there won't be such a thing as a Catawba Indian?

S: Yes mam.

1: Uh, would you like to stop this, or--or are you in

favor of this change?

S: I don't care. If youvant to marry a white person

you marry him. If you want to marry an Indian, you

marry him. But, most all the people on the reservation

arei:related so, you couldn't marry them. You'd have

to marry into another tribe.

I: Uh huh. You think it's better to marry outside

then to try to preserve the Catawba bloodline?

S: Yes mam.

I: Uh, what are some of the things that you have liked

about your high school experience?

S: You get to meet a lot of people and you learn not to

be predjudice against blacks, or whites. Mostly, I

like blacks better than whites, because I think they

associate with people better.

I: Alright, what about some of your subjects that you've

taken here? Do you recall your best likes?

S: The best likes I had was psychology.

CAT 55 A page 8

I: Okay, do you know why?

S: I like to learn about people's emotions and people's

acts and then understand why they do things.

I: Uh huh. What did you not like?

S: I did notlike historyand math.

I: Okay, uh, how about the governing of the school? Uh, did you

find this easy, or to excess, or difficult?

S: I think it's easy to accept. Anything can find something

wrong if they look for it hard enough, but, if you're

just out to get a good education and to learn all you

can while you're there, you don't mind the way the school's

going. You just

I: Do you feel the Indian students in the high schools get

a "_U deal, generally speaking?

S: There's not many Indians here and they get pretty fair


I: Uh, do you get courses on Indians in your history classes?

S: I did last year. We've been fving history of Indians since

about fifth grade, I think.

I: Uh huh. They usually bring out about the Catawba history?

S: Uh huh.

I: Do you think Indian .students generally like this, like to

hear it?

S: They're a little embarrassed, but, I think it's fun to tell

somebody something they don't know.

I: 14 enjoy this exchange with other students, talking about

CAT 55 A page 9

different things about the Indians.

S: Yes mam, you--uh, you could tell them things they would

not believe you ever did.

I: Okay.

S: I'm a senior in high school right now, but I don't know what

I'm gonna do in the future, but, I know want to get married

and settle down and have lots of kids.

I: You believe in big families?

S: Yes mam.

I: Well, how does that tie in with women's liberation today?

S: I don't like this stuff about women's lib. One thing I

don't understand at all, and I'm not gonna

because I think the woman's place is in the home, trying

to raise up your kids to get in this environment you

have to grow up, and to associate with all the different

kinds c people.

I: Well, how do you square with this idea that the world's

getting to crowded and we ought to limit the

S: I don't think people should tell you how many children you

should have because God give us all down here and if it

gets too crowded he knows, and he's gonna do something

about it.

I: Alright, what do you think about this thing about abortion,

people who say, uh, today,'I have to work' or I don-t

want a large family.

S: If they're not married and they're having sexual relations

CAT 55 A page 10

with people, this is not right because you d--you should

not do this until afterou get married and if they have

an abortion it's their fault, I think, that

I: You wouldn't advocate it then, you

S: No mam.

I: How do yo think the Catawbas feel 0uL _____
/ that
Do you t ink you're speaking as uh,/the Catawbas generally

would feel this way?

S: Yes, mnam. I think that because of our religion.

I: You think it is your religion then that uh, has 'M C

marry, had a family and

S: Uh huh.

I: Okay, waft about the drug scene, where do you stand on


S: I could not take it, or, I just couldn't because I've seen

what it does to people and you read about it all the time,

and, it's not worth messing up your whole life when

you're just like us just to have one good time.

I: Do you see drugs pass hands?

S: I did only once and

I: Okay, uh, do you think drugs are common out here? I say out

here, I mean among this age group.

S: I don't know. I think--I think it just comes in fads, or whatever.

Sometimes it comes real strong and then other times it

just slacks off.

I: If you could judge, make a judgement, would you think that

the average Catawba, high school age student, would be more

CAT 55 A page 11

likely, or less likely to take drugs than the average


S: I'd say, they would be less likely, again, because of

their religion. Because we were brought up that these things

are all wrong.

I: Okay, uh, what do you think about this year's election. Are

you interested in it?

S: I'm interested in it, but, I don't pay much attention to it
because I'm always outside. I hardly ever like to/read the

paper or anything.

I: You spend a good bit of your time outdoors?

S: Yes mam.

I: Are you interested in the outcome of the presidential


S: I am but, I don't know.

I: You haven't taken a stand one way or another on a candidate?

S: I haven't taken a stand on it.

I: Uh, if someone asked you now, which would you favor at this

point, would you say McGovern or Nixon?

S: I'd say Nixon.

I: You would? Do you have any reason for it?

S: I've heard his name a lot?

I: Oh, okay. Uh, do you play to take a look at their stands somewhere

between now

S: Between now, and November, yes mam, I do.

I: Are you old enough to vote?

CAT 55 A page 12

S: No mam.

I: Oh, you will be in the next presidential election.

If you could do something for the Catawba Indians, what

would you do?

S: If I could do anything I would say then that they're out in

this world for purpose and that's to use their education

and their abilities and talents to do all they can for

the people around them. Not just Indians, but whites, or

blacks, or anybody.

I: Alright. Do you think the Catawbas ought to have a chief

now, or someone to guide them or, not?

S: I don't think we should have a chief, because I think we

would get awfully laughed at. Everbody else has a chief,

but, uh, I think we should-be different. We shouldn't

want to be like everybody else, every other tribe.

I: Alright. Pam, do you help at home?

S: Yes mam. I prepare the meals, most of the time, because

my mother gets home after I do and my father comes home

right after I do and if I don't prepare a meal for him, he

might get mad.

I: Alright. Your mother works too then.

S: Yes mam.

I: Where does she work?

S: She works in a small grocery store about seven miles from

our house.

I: Alright, uh, besides helping around the house with meals, what

else do you do at home?

CAT 55 A page 16

S: I sew a lot.

I: Do you make cloths for yourself?

S: Yes mam. I don't like to sew for other people, because

you can't please them, like you can yourself. You can

display your own individual taste when you sew.

I: Did you make that uh?

S: No mam, I didn't.

I: That's a very pretty--I don't know what you call it, just

a smock I know. Everybody's wearing smocks this year.

S: Now.

I: So, that's a very pretty one. I'll bet you could make one

like that.

S: I've made two but they're not exactly like this.

I: Uh huh. Do you think a person can express themselves

just as well sewing as they can making pottery?

S: I don't know. I think--I think they could.

I: Uh, do you sew often, I mean every
S: I sew, most every day, I think. /I don't do it for

myself, I'm always fixing something for my brother, or

my sister, or my mother.

I: _that can sew?

S: Well, my mother sews and I got that from her and I started

sewing when I was 11, then, my sister picked it up too. So,

most everybody in our house can sew.

I: That's real good. Do you think the other kids out on the

reservation in that area enjoy doing things like that?

AT 55 A page 17

S: Mos f the girls don't know how to sew. I don't know

what they do, and they don't know how to cook either.

I think they just--they're just there, not doing anything.

I: Uh huh. Do you think this is because of their situation

in their home, maybe.

S: Yes mam. If their mother's don't try to teach them anything,

they just don't want to learn.

I: Do many of the people still make quilts and things like


S: Yes mam. A lot of them do. Not as much as they used to.

I the past few years, it's slacked off a lot.

I: Uh, where do you go to church, Pam.

S: Uhm, I go to church at the Church of Jesus Christ of

Later Day Saints, but, we're all called Mormons.

I: Your parents were both Mormons?

S: Yes mam.

I: Uh, was your mother a Mormon from childhood?

S: No mam, she was converted in 1958.

I: Is she from Rock Hill, too?

S: No mam. She's from Georgia.

I: Her home's in Georgia.

S: Yes mam.

I: Uh, are you native in church with your family.

S: Not as a family but, my mother and I and my sister and

one brother, we're all very active.
I: /You enjoy your church activities?

S: Yes man. I love them.

I: What are some of the things you enjoy doing?

CAT 55 a page 18

S: Well, I--right now I f _- iS practicing for a football

thing in one of cour states and we just--in the mornings

at ten minutes to 7 we go to a bible class and I love that.

We just have different activities every month.

I: That's kind of early to get up in the morning, isn't it?

S: I'm used to it now.

I: You got used to it. Uh, do you consider yourself an active


S: Yes mam.

I: Yo u like to keep busy?

S: Yes mam.

I: Do you consider your parents strict or lenient?

S: I think they're both. They have this thing about I

couldn't date until I was fifteen, but I didn't mind that

too much, but, they think I'm supposed to double date

until I'm eighteen because they cbn't want me to go

bad or something.

I: Do you think they're keeping a closer eye on you, a dauther, than

they do pn their ans?

S: Yes mam, I know they do.

I: Okay, do they--do they decide among them who's the head

of the house, or can you tell right now, who the head

of your house is?

S: I can tell you right now, my father is the head of the


I: Okay, uh, he has ths final say-so on

CAT 55 A page 19

S: Everything.

I: Everything? Alright, uh, are you going to be strict with

your children?

S: Not as strict as my parents were with them. I think

they deprived me of lots of things. If they don't

like the person I'm with they'll tell me. And, they'll

tell me why. But, I think you should be able to make

your own decisions when you're 17 and know what kind of

people you want to be with and what kind of children you

want to raise up yourself.

I: You think then, you're gonna let -your children, when

they're 17, associate with whoever they choose?

S: I'll tell them when I think they're going wrong, but,

they have to make it their own decision theirself because

if you just tell them, "You just can't ass ciate with this

person anymore." they'll go and sneak behind your back

and do it because you see it all the time.

I: Uh, do you have any plans other than this, wht you're gonna

do with your own children? Some deffLnate ideas?

S: I know that I'm gonna be married in the temple and I'm

gonna have all my children_

When we raise we'll do them--have them


I: You re making long range plans, are you?

S: Yes mam. That's what we're taught to do.

I: Alright.