Citation
Interview with Lottie Johns Baxley, September 27, 1972

Material Information

Title:
Interview with Lottie Johns Baxley, September 27, 1972
Creator:
Baxley, Lottie Johns ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Seminole Indians
Seminoles -- Florida
Seminole Oral History Collection ( local )

Notes

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.

Record Information

Source Institution:
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Seminoles' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management:
Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
Resource Identifier:
SEM 78 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )

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Full Text
INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
In cooperation with The Seminole Tribe of Florida
INTERVIEWEE: Lottie Johns Baxley
INTERVIEWER: Tom King
DATE: September 27, 1972
DORIS DUKE FOUNDATION


SUMMARY
Lottie Johns Baxley attended Cherokee Indian School
from 1940-1949. In this interview she discusses that
boarding school in terms of curriculum, quality of edu-
cation, discipline and its community relations. From
the Brighton Reservation perspective she considers stu-
dent motivation to attend and how they are informed of,
funded and transported to the school. Parental atti-
tudes toward education and child-rearing are included.
The other major topics discussed are the implications
and problems of mixed ancestry and the role of women
in childbirth and employment.


INDEX
BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs), 12, 16-17
Boehmer, William D., 1-3
Education (Cherokee Indian School, North Carolina)
attendance, 9
community relations, 11-12
discipline, 4-5, 7-9, 11
faculty, 12
motivation to attend, 1-2, 5-7, 14
standards and curriculum, 3-4, 10, 12
Religion (influence of Christianity on child-rearing), 6
Transcultural contacts
white prejudice, 3
mixed-ancestry, 14-18
Women (role of), 18-21


K: Mrs. Baxley, I'd like to start the interview by asking you
about some of your experiences at boarding school. I under-
stand you went to a boarding school in North Carolina. Is
that true?
B: Yes, I went to Cherokee Indian School; they had a boarding
school there, in North Carolina. There were several of us
went there from here and some from Big Cypress and some
from Hollywood. For myself it was a lot of experience there,
and lot of things I didn't know that I had to learn. I
wish I had stayed on longer than I did, but I had to come
home on account of my aunt that raised me was pretty ill,
so I came home. About six months later, she passed away.
K: What year did you start boarding school?
B: '40, I think it was.
K: 1940?
B: Yes.
K: Can you tell me why you went to boarding school in the first
place?
B: Well, around here white people call us the savages and they
didn't let us into the public school. The only schools, if
you wanted to learn, you had to go there. Or go to that
Brighton Indian day school they had, where Mr. Boehmer was
teaching here.
K: Yes.
B: Boehmer said that, as far as he knew, the highest he could
teach was sixth grade, and that's how high we got, we thought.
But after we got to boarding school, they gave us a test,
and none of us passed first grade. So we had to start from
all the way up, from first on up.
K: And you had already gone through six years here at the
Brighton Reservation with Mr. Boehmer?
B: Yes.
K: Oh, that's remarkable. How old were you when you first went
to boarding school?
I


2
B: I don't remember for sure, but I think I was about 17.
K: Seventeen, and you had gotten through the sixth grade at
the age of 17 years. When did you start school here? How
old were you when you started with Mr. Boehmer? Come to
think of it, Mr. Boehmer didn't even start a school there
til what, 1938, was that it?
B: Something like that. I don't remember what year it was.
K: Yes. So that was probably the earliest you could have
started here. Well, you would say then that your parents
were primarily interested in seeing that you got a good ed-
ucation; that's the reason they sent you to boarding school?
B: Well, at the time, they didn't want us to go.
K: Your parents didn't want you to go?
B: Well, my aunt did. She didn't care what if I went or not,
but I wanted to.
K: Yes.
B: I wanted to make something out of myself. But after she got
so ill, I had to stop.
K: But you say your aunt, were you not living with your parents
at that time?
B: My mother died when I was five, and my mother wasn't married
when I was born, so I was raised by my aunt Bali and Ada and
all of them that lived together. Now they're all married
and living separately.
K: You indicated a minute ago that perhaps some of the other
parents of the Indian children who went to boarding school
might not have wanted them to go. Is that correct?
B: That's correct. They didn't want them to go to that there
day school here, what we had out in Brighton. Every time
that we come down on that little van, they call the school
bus, they run to the woods.
K: Oh yes? Do you know why?


3
B: Well, they want them to learn white ways, the way they live
and all that, because they call us the savages. And that's
the reason they didn't want us to go, have no part of it.
K: So there must have been quite a lot of animosity towards
whites in general.
B: There was, back then. But it's not like that now.
K: Well, when you went to the boarding school, did you find that
the lessons were a little more difficult to learn, or were
they easier. Can you give me an opinion on the quality of
the learning that you got up there?
B: Well, to me it was kind of hard. Even though we went to
school here, the lessons they taught us were a whole lot
different. Because we didn't memorize things and do arith-
metic or algebra and all that stuff. They never taught us
things like that here.
K: Yes.
B: So what I learned was different from what I really thought
we would learn. But to tell you the truth, seems like when
we got up there, we didn't know a thing.
K: What had you been taught here, at Mr. Boehmer's school?
B: Well, mostly play, and write and color things. We did
learn how to write our names and say "hello" and speak
clear English. Course I had to learn that from scratch.
I couldn't speak a word of English.
K: I was wondering how Mr. Boehmer taught English; he didn't
speak any Creek, did he?
B: No.
K: Can you explain his method, how he went about doing it?
B: Some of us picked it up few here, here and there. Like the
kids do, y'know, how you teach them something to do, and
gradually they could come along and pick it up or they stub-
born or something wrong with them, they couldn't do it. Like
when I try to teach these kids how to cook. Whatever they
can come along and cook for their own breakfast or cook for


4
whatever I tell them to cook. Worked like that, back then.
And at the boarding school there's a different thing; there
was always somebody teaching us how to do things. We went
to school best part of the day, and in the afternoons we
got out of school 3:30 to 4:30 we had to go to work at the
laundry or clean up at the kitchen or work at the dormitory
where we lived.
K: Can you remember exactly what courses you took? If you
can't it doesn't matter, but I'm interested in knowing the
exact courses that were taught at that school, if you can
remember.
B: Well, we took math, science, and algebra, and arithmetic,
they're about the same, but they're different; English
and then after lunch we took home ec., where they taught
us how to sew and cook and make baskets; and reading.
K: You mentioned algebra. You said before that when you went
up there they tested you and the other people from Mr. Boehmer's
school, and they discovered that you hadn't learned anything
here. You had to start all over again in the first grade.
Well, they didn't teach algebra in the first grade there,
did they?
B: No, that was in about fifth year I was there.
K: How many years were you there altogether?
B: Oh, about 7.
K: Seven years, quite a long time.
B: It was, from 1940 to '49; might have been nine years.
K: Nine years.
B: 'Cause I came home during '49. I was planning to go back,
but I didn't.
K: How was the discipline enforced at boarding school?
B: Well, I figured whatever the rules they had there were
good for me. Of course, I didn't have parents; all I had
was an aunt to teach me how to add and read. At home I didn't


5
learn anything what I learned up there. And by watching
and by hearing what the other person did, I learned quite
a lot.
K: How about the other Indian children there? Did they ever
cause any discipline problems?
B: Some of them got into fights with the other kids, but a
lot of that still goes on.
K: Yes.
B: But things that they put out for us weren't hard if you be-
have yourself and stick it out.
K: How did you go about getting up there to begin with? You
say your aunt wanted you to go. Did some government agent
come out and talk to you, and ask you if you would like to
go, or did you seek somebody else out and ask them if you
could go?
B: Well, they sent a worker out. It might have been Mr. Boehmer.
I don't remember for sure who did give us the papers to fill
out. We got signed up and that there day we were supposed
to leave, they took us to Fort Lauderdale to catch a train,
then we got out at Asheville, North Carolina. They had a
bus there waiting for us, a school bus, and that's how we
got there. But I don't remember for sure who had the papers
for us to fill it out.
K: You didn't initiate this yourself, though. Somebody came
out and told you that you could go, and asked you if you
wanted to, is that what you're saying?
B: Yes.
K: What I'm trying to get at is the difference between you ask-
ing them to go and them telling you you can go.
B: Well, that part I don't remember. But there has to be some-
body like that, 'cause like it is now, y'know, they always
sent somebody out like Bill Timmons. He comes out and fills
out papers on that certain person that wanted to go to the
boarding school. I imagine there was somebody else, but I
don't remember who it was.


6
K: Do you know of any children who were ever sent up there who
did not want to go?
B: Well there was a quite a few of them that said they didn't
want to go, but they left because they had no other choice.
K: What do you mean, they had no other choice? Who was forcing
them to go up there?
B: Well, they weren't forced, but they thought it might have
been a better thing if they did, because the parents, back
then they drank so much, y'know. They didn't care what
happened to the child or whether they live or die. Back
then they were hard on them.
K: Were there a lot of children like this?
B: Yes, there were, there are still a lot of them like that.
K: Even today?
B: Even today.
K: Do you think -that the majority of them are like that?
B: No, just a few. Well, Christianity helped a lot by that.
K: What? Cut the drinking down?
B: Yes. 'Cause a lot of parents had turned into Christians
and care what happens to the child. There are about three
or four families out here that don't care, like it was in
the old days. Then people didn't know any better I guess,
or they knew what it is now. There were some families back
then that did care what happened to the child, just like it
is now. It's not bad as it used to be.
K: That's good.
B: But, to tell you the truth, we weren't forced, I don't think.
We went because we wanted to, and some parents didn't have
to. We didn't say we couldn't go. My aunt didn't say, "Yes,
you can go ahead and learn what you want to." Nobody never
told me that. One time I met this guy and he asked me to
marry him. I asked my cousin -- she's the older girl and


7
she had been married before--and I asked her how it is
about being married, y' know, and she come out just
blank, telling me you have to find out yourself.
K: Yes.
B: I started from my childhood on up, 'cause she didn't have
a mother, and we just had to live by what you learn. Even
today it's like that for me.
K: Did the parents have to give their permission for their
children to go up there?
B: Well, they had to sign a paper.
K: Do you know of any children who were sent to boarding school
whose parents did not want them to go?
B: I don't know.
K: Probably not.
B: Yes.
K: Can you tell what some of the rules and regulations were
governing life at the boarding school?
B: You mean, how to behave and all?
K: Right, I'm sure they must have had a list of things you had to
do and things you could not do.
B: Yes.
K: Do you know what they were?
B: Well, we couldn't go to church and to the store without any
chaperones. The church and the village were right close to-
gether, about a mile and a half down the road, and we couldn't
go down there unless we had a chaperone. We couldn't leave
the campus unless we had a chaperone. If they had a football
game or fair on the school grounds, then we couldn't leave
the dormitory without our matron knowing about it. We al-
ways had to have permission. In case something happened,
we got hurt or things like that, so she would know where we


8
were or where we were supposed to be.
K: Yes.
B: And if we weren't where we were supposed to be, well we
didn't get a whipping, but our punishment was that we
couldn't go out, we couldn't get permission to go to the
village anymore for a while.
K: Was there ever any kind of physical punishment given?
B: Well, not for me. Not by our matron.
K: Did anybody else?
B: Well, there were the older girls like me that had to take
care of the kids when they got into something real bad, like
fight each other. They would tell us to hit them but we nev-
er hit them real hard, y'know, like beat 'em in the head,
near about to death where they have to be put in the hospi-
tal, it wasn't like that.
K: Not like that. Did any of the matrons ever whip anybody?
B: Well, I imagine she had to.
K: This might sound like a stupid question, you see, I've heard
about other boarding schools in Oklahoma where that kind of
thing went on all the time.
B: I think they did, but not bad enough where, y'know, they
were real mean.
K: Oh, good.
B: Not out of meanness. I think they done it 'cause they had
to. "Course I whipped my kids once in a while, too. They
needed it, like we needed it, I guess, if we didn't do what
we were told to do.
K: How was your day divided up? How did it start?
B: Well we got up at six o'clock, we got dressed, and we had
to take turns to help out in the kitchen, help cook meals
for the cook down there, y'know. We had to be down there


9
by six thirty, so they had breakfast on by seven o'clock.
If it wasn't our turn, we got up a little bit after six.
Well we all got up at six o'clock no matter what we had to
clean up. In the dormitory, we had to clean our rooms and
make up the beds and things like that before we went to
breakfast, And then when we got home from breakfast, we had
to sweep the dormitory halls or clean up the bathrooms and
the sinks, and clean ourselves and get dressed again. Of
course, they'd have us, what did they call it, everyday
dresses, and we wore it to work in. Then about 7:30 or
fifteen til eight, we would have to go get dressed for school
in our own clothes that we brought from home. And clean
our room and make sure the beds were straightened up and
things like that before we went to school.
K: How many children slept in one room?
B: Well I don't remember all. They could put eight sometimes
or six sometimes, but if they were older than 13, sometimes
they put two. And some places, they only put two in each
room because it was real small for just two beds any way.
If they were older than 13 or 14, like they put me and my
Choctaw girlfriend, "Mississippi," together, and sometimes
we lived with a girl from Hollywood or Big Cypress.
K: About how many Seminoles were up there?
B: Well, sometimes we had about 12 or 13 girls, no more than
15. There might have been more. Altogether there were
about 15 boys and altogether about 30. I'm not sure, I
could be wrong.
K: After you would start school, would you stay:in the same
room all day long?
B: No.
K: Would you change rooms? How did that work? Did you get
different teachers?
B: After we got up to seventh grade, they'd switch us around
every hour. Like if we had English we would go to another
room, or we would have arithmetic and go to another room,
and then if we had history we would go to another room, and
we had science we would go to another room, or another building.


10
K: I want to ask you about the history courses. Did you ever
learn anyting about the American Indian in your history
courses?
B: No, only thing I had was in the seventh grade I had an awful
lot of history. And if you were in 10th or 11th grade, some-
where like that, you take American history, but far as I know
I never learned anything from American Indian.
K: Well, that's remarkable. To have an Indian school and not
be teaching Indian history.
B: Well, they might have had it, but...
K: Probably didn't...
B: ...it might have been in higher grades, that I didn't get to.
K: Of course it's not taught anymore either, you know.
B: It's not?
K: Not that I know of. They may be instituting Indian history
programs now, but it has not been the rule.
B: Have they taught American...
3rd speaker: In high school they have, about the French and
Indians, a long time ago.
B: French and Indians...
K: About the French and Indian War. Yes, well that's the kind
of history you learn, see, anything that touches the white
man, then they get stuck into the history books. No Indian
history, anyway.
B-: Then about an hour after lunch, we took home ec.; of course
everybody has to go the the auditorium about one o'clock,
and about one hour there we watched the movie or somebody
put on a show. And after the end of the year, we had to
put on the fashion show or whatever we made through the
home ec. I enjoyed myself. Along the line, I was learning
something all the time.
K: After school you had other chores you had to do?


11
B: Yes.
K: Mrs. Baxley, were you forced to go to church on Sunday, did
you have any choice?
B: We weren't forced. We was expected, you know, it was ex-
pected of us. When we first got there, of course, they told
us what they would be expecting of us. Then they would never
force us. If we were feeling bad, kind of sick feeling, then
they let us stay in our room.
K: What I meant though, did you have any choice; if you did not
want to go to church, would you be able to stay in the dormi-
tory?
B: Well, if we didn't want to, they could stay at the dormitory.
K: Did you all go to one church?
B: Well, that's the only one that's there.
K: There was only one church there. What church was it?
B: First Methodist.
K: How were you accepted by the people who lived in the community
where the school was located?
B: First five years, we never got to see hardly anyone.
K: Never saw any white people? Why?
B: Well, at the village they accepted us and knew where we were
from and all, and talked to us. They were friendly. They
were friendly toward us, but as far as going in their homes
and places like that, we weren't allowed to. They never
even asked us to go.
K: What I mean is, you told me before that people down here around
Brighton thought of the Seminoles as wild savages and so on;
was it the same attitude up there?
B: Well, that was the white people from Moore Haven, mostly from
Moore Haven.


12
K: Well, what about the people in North Carolina? Did they
treat you the same way?
B: Well, we never got to see too many white people.
K: Yes.
B: Well we had white teachers, but of course they were working
for BIA.
K: Yes, they had to...
B: They had to be friendly towards us.
K: Now what about the matrons; were they white or Indian?
B: Well, the real matron, her name was Miss White, she was a
white lady, real gray-haired, real old lady. I don't remem-
ber how old she was, but she was pretty near over 60. I don't
know; she was a hard person to get along with at the first,
but after you get to know her, she was kind of friendly.
K: Most of the faculty and administration were white people,
correct?
B: But they had Indians from all over to work there as assistant
matrons. We had one lady from Oklahoma, she was assistant cook,
in the kitchen; she was from Oklahoma, she speaks the same
language as we do down here.
K: Were you allowed to speak your own language there at the school?
B: Yes, we were. If there had been different churches--I was talk-
ing about a while ago--we could have gone to different churches.
When they had Mormon missionaries there, they let us to come to
their meetings. They had every Tuesday a meeting in the auditor-
ium, school auditorium, but we didn't have to go if we didn't
want to there, either.
K: Were the Mormons successful in converting anybody?
B: No. A lot of them, but not the Seminoles.
K: What's your opinion of the quality of education you got while
you were there? Do you think it was on a par with that you


13
would have gotten at public school in Florida, in Glades
County?
B: I think so. I think I would have gotten more from public
school than I did, cause I would have been closer to home.
But they wouldn't let us go to school here, or I would
have continued on. Who knows, I might have gone to college
and amounted to something.
K: How often were you allowed to return home?
B: Oh, we were allowed to come home every summer.
K: For how many months?
B: About three months. Might have been two and a half.
K: Nine months out of the year you were up there?
B: Yes. We left about the first part of June and went back the
last part of August.
K: If anybody had wanted to stay there during the summer, would
they have been allowed to?
B: No. Because they didn't have anything going on in the summer-
time.
K: Did the government pay for your transportation back home, and
then to the boarding school again?
B: Yes.
K: Would you like to make any remarks on how the boarding school
system could have been improved? How you think it could have
been made better in the 1940s, when you were attending. Per-
haps you think it was as good as it could have been, I don't
know.
B: I think it was. The one I went to; I know I liked it. I enjoyed
staying there.
K: Did most of the students enjoy it, think it was a good experience?
B: Well, you would have to ask them.
I


14
K: Yes, I know, but I thought perhaps you might know how your
friends thought about it anyway.
B: I wouldn't know what they feel, then or today about the
boarding school. I only know what I feel about the board-
ing school. The only reason I let my son go is he wanted
to go for the past two years. I held back, and then I
talked to the Reverend about it and he said that you should
let him go if he wants to. I know one day I have to let
him go, 'cause I couldn't hang on to him for the rest of
my life. He's got to live his life, and he's got to learn
while he's young.
K: Well do you have any other comments you would like to make
on your experiences at boarding school?
B: No.
K: Mrs. Baxley, I know that you're not a full-blooded Indian.
I'd like to ask you a few questions concerning your ancestry.
Perhaps some of the experiences you've had as a result of
it. Can you tell me who your mother and father were?
B: My mother was a full-blooded Indian; her name was Edith
Johns, and she was Bobby Johns' sister, oldest sister, out
of the Johns family. And my father was a white man, and he
still is. He lives around Okeechobee, and they weren't married
whenever I was born. I don't know what you'd call it, a "one-
nighter," I guess.
K: Were you born here on the Reservation?
B: No, at the time, there wasn't a reservation. We lived out
in the west part of Blue Field, it's between Okeechobee and
Fort Pierce. We lived out there until I was about 16, I guess,
I don't remember. I might have been twelve at the time. But
we lived on out there for a long time.
K: After you were born, you lived with your mother's family?
B: Yes, they were my mother's sisters, my mother's cousin with
them.
K: Was there any resentment or hostility towards you on the part


15
of the other full-blooded Indians, because you were not
completely Indian? Were you treated any differently?
B: Well, not to my mother's family, but most of the other
Indians usually called me a white lady or a white woman
or white girl, ever since I remember, and they still do
that, even today.
K: Is that meant as an insult?
B: I guess. To me it was, anyway.
K: Was there any other way in which they discriminated against
you, were you a social outcast or were you accepted?
B: Well, I guess they meant to tease, they teased me a lot.
They didn't mean any harm. Back then it made me mad, but
I never did take it seriously.
K: Would an Indian with a Negro parent be accepted to the same
degree that you were by other Indians?
B: I guess so. We had one that is part Negro, and he's accepted.
There's a family that lives out there towards Fort Pierce
now, and quite a few Indian girls are married to colored men,
and their kids are accepted into the Seminole tribe. They
went ahead and accepted me. Even part, what do they call it
Spanish or Mexican, they have all been accepted, provided
their mothers are part Indian.
K: I've been told that in the past people who are not Indian
were not allowed to live on the Reservation. I believe it
had something to do with...let's see, if an Indian girl
married a white man, then she could not live on the Reserva-
tion, she had to move off and live with the white man, Is
that true?
B: That's true. When I got married, even though I was part
Indian, I married a white man and I had to move off and
live with the white man in Okeechobee. That's where I have
two cousins that's married into Mexican, and they have to
live in Okeechobee or places like that; they couldn't be
allowed to live in it. The bylaws were set up by the BIA and
the government, tribal leaders. But nowadays, an Indian girl
marries a white man, or an Indian girl marries a Mexican


16
and things like that, they all live out here on the Reserva-
tion. I guess the ones that listen to the bylaws live in
town somewhere else.
K: Do you know why this changed?
B: It's not changed, it's just the people won't accept the laws
of the Tribal Council, that's what it is. Some of us figure
they meant well, so we abide by laws, like we do state laws.
Some of them won't do that; some of them still lives on out
here with their parents.
K: Is there no way the the Tribal Council can enforce the law?
B: They have written them a letter, and the superintendent wrote
them a letter, and they still wouldn't do anything; they just
live on out here.
K: But the law still says that somebody not an Indian cannot live
on the Reservation.
B: That's the law, and it has never been changed as far as I know
it.
K: I'm wondering why the Tribal Council can't do anything about
it, though. I know that the Reservation is under the juris-
diction of the Glades County Sheriff's Department, and you
have two Indian policemen out here. Can't they be served an
eviction notice and told to leave?
B: They have been served eviction notice, and some of them don't
want to carry out the right. We had a boy that lives here
married to one of the Indian girls, and they served it to him,
the tribal president served it to him, and he left, moved
away. The others won't do it. I guess there are just some that
obey the law, like we did, I mean I did. When I was married, I
had to live in Okeechobee all the time.
K: I guess the Tribal Council just doesn't want to put anybody in
jail, huh?
B: I guess not. That's the way it seems. And then if we're married
to a white man, like I was, the BIA, you know, paid their lunch-
eon for children at school. And they wouldn't pay mine when I


17
was living with my husband. I know that still lately,
there's a family out here, that their grandma usually
takes care of the kids and they get paid by the BIA at
the luncheon at school.
K: You never lived on the Reservation while you were married
to your husband, correct?
B: No.
K: Did you ever get any benefits from being a Seminole? Did
you live entirely as a white person, or did you live under
any of the Seminole laws and receive any of the benefits of
being a Seminole?
B: Well, just me and the kids are accepted on the membership of
a Seminole Indian tribe, but other than that they wouldn't
pay my hospital bill and things like that.
K: Did you go to the health clinic before you moved on the Re-
servation?
B: No, they didn't have a public health clinic.
K: Is there anything else you can tell me about being half-Indian
and half-white, any of the difficulties that are encumbent up-
on one that had a mixed ancestry?
B: Well there is a lot of hardship and heartbreaking for me be-
cause I was part white, and my kids are part white now. A lot
of people that, I don't know if they meant to hurt us or hurt
our feelings or not, but we've been called white and that we
didn't have no business out here. And they said once upon a
time they were going to move me out of here. I said if I do,
I'm taking all the blond-haireds out of here, 'cause there is
a bunch out here now, and they're not mine, they belong to
somebody. So, I don't know, the family that accuses being
white are eating their words today, because of their daughters,
who ran around and got pregnant. Most of them are part white
and most of them are part Mexican. And I figure I didn't do so
bad, because I got married and my kids had a legal names, and
they have a right to be born. I didn't have a choice. Even if
I wanted to marry an Indian, they wouldn't let me anyway. Even
today I would have married an Indian after I left my husband,


18
but I didn't know the people I'm related to out here, and
he might have been my second cousin. That's the way it is
out here. You're related to somebody somewhere out here.
K: Yes.
B: And I don't know that; this I don't want. The only reason I
never got married again is because I don't want my kids to be
hurt again. Now, I'll never forgive my husband for running
off and leaving me. I guess I don't know how to forgive, but
that's the way it went.
K: Perhaps we could move on to this now, I'd like to ask you a
few questions about the role of women within the Seminole
Tribe. Particularly before the Indians were moved on the re-
servations. You told me the other day that you knew something
about your own past, and about the past of the Indians, and I
was hoping you could help me in that respect. I'd like to know
what the women used to do in the way of child care, for in-
stance. Did each individual wife or mother care for her own
children, or was there some sort of communal arrangement
whereby children were cared for by people they were not re-
lated to, that kind of thing?
B: Well, at the time of child birth, they go by custom, tribal
custom or their clan, you know we had a lot of that at the
time I was young. And when I was young, when I had my men-
strual period, we weren't allowed to eat with the rest, you
know, sit at the table with the rest of the family. We had to
cook our own meals, we had to sleep by ourselves, and there
was certain times that we weren't allowed to talk to a man.
K: What times were those?
B: They were our menstrual periods.
K: Any other times?
B: Any other time we could. But to me, they wouldn't allow me to
talk to any kind of boys until I was about 19.
K: Because you're white, part white?
B: No. That's the way...


19
K: Just everybody.
B: That's the way every girl keeps her what do you call it...
Well, the things were different from what they are now,
back then. We were taught not to sleep with a man, until
we were at a certain age.
K: What age is that?
B: Well, to me, about 20, I guess. Even though we got bawled
out. Well, anyway, their customs and their rules were
pretty strict. And when you have child birth, they wouldn't
take you to the hospital, they let you have it out there
in the woods, close to the house, close to the camp.
K: Well, why would you go out into the woods to have it?
B: Well, you move off by yourself, around the palmetto patch,
you know. They won't allow men to come around.
K: Yes.
B: And you have to stay there for about 3 or 4 days, and then
after 3 or 4 days you could come back closer, among the
families that you lived with. But you had to sleep off by
yourself, about ten feet away from the other sleeping
places. And still you had to cook for your own self.
K: Well, when you went out in the woods to have that child, did
somebody accompany you or did you go out there...?
B: Yes, there all the women could help out if they knew how, but
there were no men allowed in.
K: Did the medicine man play any part in child birth?
B: No. There were no medicine men.
K: I ask this question because I interviewed one lady who told me
something about child birth. She told me she would go out into
the woods--or she told me about her mother going out into the
woods to have the child--and she said that the medicine man
would be at some other place, a long way off. One woman would
go out with her when she had her baby, and when she started to
have her baby, this woman would go back and tell the medicine


20
man, who would mix up some medicine and give to that woman
who would take it back to the lady having the baby. Did
that kind of thing happen, do you know of that?
B: I don't know of that, but when my youngest aunt had her
baby, her oldest of that family did doctor and the witch-
craft and all that. I never did have a child birth. When I
was married, I had to learn by white ways and live by them.
My husband taught how to cook and everything. When I was
pregnant, when my oldest son was born, he took me to the
hospital, and I went to the doctors all along, in town, where
the son was born. But I never did have a child out in the
woods like the others did. But that's the way the custom was
when I was on my menstrual period when I was young, when I
still had to cook and eat by myself.
K: After the child was born, was it cared for only by its mother,
or did other people help care for the child?
B: Only by its mother.
K: For how long? How old was the child?
B: For four months.
K: Just four months?
B: Well, during the time that she was on her period, but after
she stopped bleeding, things like that, they doctored her
and she could move in with her other family, with the family
that she had lived with before. She still had to be careful
what she ate and all that, but she still could eat with the
child before. There was just certain things. She did have to
care for her own baby, but the others could help out, like
making up her baby swings and all that. She wasn't allowed to
chop wood and anything that's heavy. Then there are just
certain things that they were allowed to eat, and, you know,
they wouldn't eat certain foods for four months.
K: What kind of work did women do?
B: Well back than all they did was wash and cook, until the
farmers had settled into Florida and they went to pick to-
matoes. Now, they do anything the men do.


21
K: Yes. Some things the men won't do, too.
B: Yes. Nowadays there's a house full. Just like some women
wear pants in the family, things like that.
K: Did they work at any kind of crafts? Did they make dresses
the way they do now, bead work and things like that?
B: Yes, they make dolls and things like that.
K: For sale to tourists back in the 1940s and 1930s.
B: They did a little back then, but it's heavier, I mean it's
pretty regular things they do now. Back then they didn't
do too much of that. All they did was hunt, something to
live off.
K: The majority of the work that a woman did then was done
right there in the camp, is that correct, and she could
always watch her child? The reason I was asking, I was
wondering if at any time a woman had to leave to work
somewhere, did she leave her child with one of her own re-
latives or was there some sort of an organization within
the tribe that looked after children? Were there people who
were designated as let's say, babysitters?
B: Well, if it's like where the elderly woman stays at the
camp, her older sister or uncle, a person who didn't work,
who stays at the camp all the time, they would leave it
with them, but most of the time I didn't work because I was
too young to work when I was getting most of the kids.


Full Text

PAGE 1

INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA In cooperation with The Seminole Tribe of Florida INTERVIEWEE: INTERVIEWER: Lottie Johns Baxley Tom King DATE: September 27, 1972 DORIS DUKE FOUNDATION

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SUMMARY Lottie Johns Baxley attended Cherokee Indian School from 1940-1949. In this interview she discusses that boarding school in terms of curriculum, quality of edu cation, discipline and its community relations. From the Brighton Reservation perspective she considers stu dent motivation to attend and how they are informed of, funded and transported to the school. Parental atti tudes toward education and child-rearing are included. The other major topics discussed are the implications and problems of mixed ancestry and the role of women in childbirth and employment.

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INDEX BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs), 12, 16-17 Boehmer, William D., 1-3 Education (Cherokee Indian School, North Carolina) attendance, 9 connnunity relations, 11-12 discipline, 4-5, 7-9, 11 faculty, 12 motivation to attend, 1-2, 5-7, 14 standards and curriculum, 3-4, 10, 12 Religion (influence of Christianity on child-rearing), 6 Transcultural contacts white prejudice, 3 mixed-ancestry, 14-18 Women (role of), 18-21

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K: Mrs. Baxley, I'd like to start the interview by asking you about some of your experiences at boarding school. I under stand you went to a boarding school in North Carolina. Is that true? B: Yes, I went to Cherokee Indian School; they had a boarding school there, in North Carolina. There were several of us went there from here and some from Big Cypress and some from Hollywood. For myself it was a lot of experience there, and lot of things I didn't know that I had to learn. I wish I had stayed on longer than I did, but I had to come home on account of my aunt that raised me was pretty ill, so I came home. About six months later, she passed away. K: What year did you start boarding school? B: '40, I think it was. K: 1940? B: Yes. K: Can you tell me why you went to boarding school in the first place? B: Well, around here white people call us the didn't let us into the public school. The you wanted to learn, you had to go there. Brighton Indian day school they had, where teaching here. K: Yes. savages and they only schools, if Or go to that Mr. Boehmer was B: Boehmer said that, as far as he knew, the highest he could teach was sixth grade, and that's how high we got, we thought. But after we got to boarding school, they gave us a test, and none of us passed first grade. So we had to start from all the way up, from first on up. K: And you had already gone through six years here at the Brighton Reservation with Mr. Boehmer? B: Yes. K: Oh, that's remarkable. How old were you when you first went to boarding school?

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i I B: K: I don't remember for sure, but I think I was about 17. Seventeen, and you had gotten through the sixth grade at the age of 17 years. When did you start school here? How old were you when you started with Mr. Boehmer? Come to think of it, Mr. Boehmer didn't even start a school there til what, 1938, was that it? B: Something like that. I don't remember what year it was. 2 K: Yes. So that was probably the earliest you could have started here. Well, you would say then that your parents were primarily interested in seeing that you got a good ed ucation; that's the reason they sent you to boarding school? B: Well, at the time, they didn't want us to go. K: Your parents didn't want you to go? B: Well, my aunt did. She didn't care what if I went or not, but I wanted to. K: Yes. B: I wanted to make something out of myself. But after she got so ill, I had to stop. K: But you say your aunt, were you not living with your parents at that time? B: My mother died when I was five, and my mother wasn't married when I was born, so I was raised by my aunt Bali and Ada and all of them that lived together. Now they're all married and living separately. K: You indicated a minute ago that perhaps some of the other parents of the Indian children who went to boarding school might not have wanted them to go. Is that correct? B: That's correct. They didn't want them to go to that there day school here, what we had out in Brighton. Every time that we come down on that little van, they call the school bus, they run to the woods. K: Oh yes? Do you know why?

PAGE 6

3 B: Well, they want them to learn white ways, the way they live and all that, because they call us the savages. And that's the reason they didn't want us to go, have no part of it. K: So there must have been quite a lot of animosity towards whites in general. B: There was, back then. But it's not like that now. K: Well, when you went to the boarding school, did you find that the lessons were a little more difficult to learn, or were they easier. Can you give me an opinion on the quality of the learning that you got up there? B: Well, to me it was kind of hard. Even though we went to school here, the lessons they taught us were a whole lot different. Because we didn't memorize things and do arith metic or algebra and all that stuff. They never taught us things like that here. K: Yes. B: So what I learned was different from what I really thought we would learn. But to tell you the truth, seems like when we got up there, we didn't know a thing. K: What had you been taught here, at Mr. Boehmer's school? B: Well, mostly play, and write and color things. We did learn how to write our names and say "hello" and speak clear English. Course I had to learn that from scratch. I couldn't speak a word of English. K: I was wondering how Mr. Boehmer taught English; he didn't speak any Creek, did he? B: No. K: Can you explain his method, how he went about doing it? B: Some of us picked it up few here, here and there. Like the kids do, y'know, how you teach them something to do, and gradually they could come along and pick it up or they stub born or something wrong with them, they couldn't do it. Like when I try to teach these kids how to cook. Whatever they can come along and cook for their own breakfast or cook for

PAGE 7

whatever I tell them to cook. Worked like that, back then. And at the boarding school there's a different thing; there was always somebody teaching us how to do things. We went to school best part of the day, and in the afternoons we got out of school 3:30 to 4:30 we had to go to work at the laundry or clean up at the kitchen or work at the dormitory where we lived. K: Can you remember exactly what courses you took? If you can't it doesn't matter, but I'm interested in knowing the exact courses that were taught at that school, if you can remember. B: Well, we took math, science, and algebra, and arithmetic, they're about the same, but they're different; English and then after lunch we took home ec., where they taught us how to sew and cook and make baskets; and reading. K: You mentioned algebra. You said before that when you went 4 up there they tested you and the other people from Mr. Boehmer's school, and they discovered that you hadn't learned anything here. You had to start all over again in the first grade. Well, they didn't teach algebra in the first grade there, did they? B: No, that was in about fifth year I was there. K: How many years were you there altogether? B: Oh, about 7. K: Seven years, quite a long time. B: It was, from 1940 to '49; might have been nine K: Nine years. years. B: 'Cause I came home during '49. I was planning to go back, but I didn't. K: How was the discipline enforced at boarding school? B: Well, I figured whatever the rules they had there were good for me. Of course, I didn't have parents; all I had was an aunt to teach me how to add and read. At home I didn't

PAGE 8

learn anything what I learned up there. And by watching and by hearing what the other person did, I learned quite a lot. K: How about the other Indian children there? Did they ever cause any discipline problems? B: Some of them got into fights with the other kids, but a lot of that still goes on. K: Yes. B: But things that they put out for us weren't hard if you be have yourself and stick it out. K: How did you go about getting up there to begin with? You say your aunt wanted you to go. Did some government agent come out and talk to you, and ask you if you would like to go, or did you seek somebody else out and ask them if you could go? 5 B: Well, they sent a worker out. It might have been Mr. Boehmer. I don't remember for sure who did give us the papers to fill out. We got signed up and that there day we were supposed to leave, they took us to Fort Lauderdale to catch a train, then we got out at Asheville, North Carolina. They had a bus there waiting for us, a school bus, and that's how we got there. But I don't remember for sure who had the papers for us to fill it out. K: You didn't initiate this yourself, though. Somebody came out and told you that you could go, and asked you if you wanted to, is that what you're saying? B: Yes. K: What I'm trying to get at is the difference between you ask ing them to go and them telling you you can go. B: Well, that part I don't remember. But there has to be some body like that, 'cause like it is now, y'know, they always sent somebody out like Bill Timmons. He comes out and fills out papers on that certain person that wanted to go to the boarding school. I imagine there was somebody else, but I don't remember who it was.

PAGE 9

K: Do you know of any children who were ever sent up there who did not want to go? B: Well there was a quite a few of them that said they didn't want to go, but they left because they had no other choice. K: What do you mean, they had no other choice? Who was forcing them to go up there? B: Well, they weren't forced, but they thought it might have been a better thing if they did, because the parents, back then they drank so much, y'know. They didn't care what happened to the child or whether they live or die. Back then they were hard on them. K: Were there a lot of children like this? B: Yes, there were, there are still a lot of them like that. K: Even today? B: Even today. K: Do you thinkthat the majority of them are like that? B: No, just a few. Well, Christianity helped a lot by that. K: What? Cut the drinking down? B: Yes. 'Cause a lot of parents had turned into Christians and care what happens to the child. There are about three or four families out here that don't care, like it was in the old days. Then people didn't know any better I guess, or they knew what it is now. There were some families back then that did care what happened to the child, just like it is now. It's not bad as it used to be. K: That's good. 6 B: But, to tell you the truth, we weren't forced, I don't think. We went because we wanted to, and some parents didn't have to. We didn't say we couldn't go. My aunt didn't say, "Yes, you can go ahead and learn what you want to." Nobody never told me that. One time I met this guy and he asked me to marry him. I asked my cousin -she's the older girl and

PAGE 10

7 she had been married before--and I asked her how it is about being married, y' know, and she come out just blank, telling me you have to find out yourself. K: Yes. B: I started from my childhood on up, 'cause she didn't have a mother, and we just had to live by what you learn. Even today it's like that for me. K: Did the parents have to give their permission for their children to go up there? B: Well, they had to sign a paper. K: Do you know of any children who were sent to boarding school whose parents did not want them to go? B: I don't know. K: Probably not. B: Yes. K: Can you tell what some of the rules and regulations were governing life at the boarding school? B: You mean, how to behave and all? K: Right, I'm sure they must have had a list of things you had to do and things you could not do. B: Yes. K: Do you know what they were? B: Well, we couldn't go to church and to the store without any chaperones. The church qnd the village were right close to gether, about a mile and a half down the road, and we couldn't go down there unless we had a chaperone. We couldn't leave the campus unless we had a chaperone. If they had a football game or fair on the school grounds, then we couldn't leave the dormitory without our matron knowing about it. We always had to have permission. In case something happened, we got hurt or things like that, so she would know where we

PAGE 11

8 were or where we were supposed to be. K: Yes. B: And if we weren't where we were supposed to be, well we didn't get a whipping, but our punishment was that we couldn't go out, we couldn't get permission to go to the village anymore for a while. K: Was there ever any kind of physical punishment given? B: Well, not for me. Not by our matron. K: Did anybody else? B: Well, there were the older girls like me that had to take care of the kids when they got into something real bad, like fight each other. They would tell us to hit them but we nev er hit them real hard, y'know, like beat 'em in the head, near about to death where they have to be put in the hospi tal, it wasn't like that. K: Not like that. Did any of the matrons ever whip anybody? B: Well, I imagine she had to. K: This might sound like a stupid question, you see, I've heard about other boarding schools in Oklahoma where that kind of thing went on all the time. B: I think they did, but not bad enough where, y'know, they were real mean. K: Oh, good. B: Not out of meanness. I think they done it 'cause they had to. "Course I whipped my kids once in a while, too. They needed it, like we needed it, I guess, if we didn't do what we were told to do. K: How was your day divided ~? How did it start? B: Well we got up at six o'clock, we got dressed, and we had to take turns to help out in the kitchen, help cook meals for the cook down there, y'know. We had to be down there

PAGE 12

9 by six thirty, so they had breakfast on by seven o'clock. If it wasn't our turn, we got up a little bit after six. Well we all got up at six o'clock no matter what we had to clean up. In the dormitory, we had to clean our rooms and make up the beds and things like that before we went to breakfast, And then when we got home from breakfast, we had to sweep the dormitory halls or clean up the bathrooms and the sinks, and clean ourselves and get dressed again. Of course, they'd have us, what did they call it, everyday dresses, and we wore it to work in. Then about 7:30 or fifteen til eight, we would have to go get dressed for school in our own clothes that we brought from home. And clean our room and make sure the beds were straightened up and things like that before we went to school. K: How many children slept in one room? B: Well I don't remember all. They could put eight sometimes or six sometimes, but if they were older than 13, sometimes they put two. And some places, they only put two in each room because it was real small for just two beds any way. If they were older than 13 or 14, like they put me and my Choctaw girlfriend, "Mississippi," together, and sometimes we lived with a girl from Hollywood or Big Cypress. K: About how many Seminoles were up there? B: Well, sometimes we had about 12 or 13 girls, no more than 15. There might have been more. Altogether there were about 15 boys and altogether about 30. I'm not sure, I could be wrong. K: After you would start school, would you stay:in the same room all day long? B: No. K: Would you change rooms? How did that work? Did you get different teachers? B: After we got up to seventh grade, they'd switch us around every hour. Like if we had English we would go to another room, or we would have arithmetic and go to another room, and then if we had history we would go to another room, and we had science we would go to another room, or another building.

PAGE 13

K: I want to ask you about the history courses. Did you ever learn anyting about the American Indian in your history courses? 10 B: No, only thing I had was in the seventh grade I had an awful lot of history. And if you were in 10th or 11th grade, some where like that, you take American history, but far as I know I never learned anything from American Indian. K: Well, that's remarkable. To have an Indian school and not be teaching Indian history. B: Well, they might have had it, but ... K: Probably didn't B: it might have been in higher grades, that I didn't get to. K: Of course it's not taught anymore either, you know. B: It's not? K: Not that I know of. They may be instituting Indian history programs now, but it has not been the rule. B: Have they taught American •.. 3rd speaker: In high school they have, about the French and Indians, a long time ago. B: French and Indians K: About the French and Indian War. Yes, well that's the kind of history you learn, see, anything that touches the white man, then they get stuck into the history books. No Indian history, anyway. B-: Then about an hour after lunch, we took home ec.; of course everybody has to go the the auditorium about one o'clock, and about one hour there we watched the movie or somebody put on a show. And after the end of the year, we had to put on the fashion show or whatever we made through the home ec. I enjoyed myself. Along the line, I was learning something all the time. K: After school you had other chores you had to do?

PAGE 14

B: Yes. K: Mrs. Baxley, were you forced to go to church on Sunday, did you have any choice? 11 B: We weren't forced. We was expected, you know, it was ex pected of us. When we first got there, of course, they told us what they would be expecting of us. Then they would never force us. If we were feeling bad, kind of sick feeling, then they let us stay in our room. K: What I meant though, did you have any choice; if you did not want to go to church, would you be able to stay in the dormi tory? B: Well, if we didn't want to, they could stay at the dormitory. K: Did you all go to one church? B: Well, that's the only one that's there. K: There was only one church there. What church was it? B: First Methodist. K: How were you accepted by the people who lived in the community where the school was located? B: First five years, we never got to see hardly anyone. K: Never saw any white people? Why? B: Well, at the village they accepted us and knew where we were from and all, and talked to us. They were friendly. They were friendly toward us, but as far as going in their homes and places like that, we weren't allowed to. They never even asked us to go. K: What I mean is, you told me before that people down here around Brighton thought of the Seminoles as wild savages and so on; was it the same attitude up there? B: Well, that was the white people from Moore Haven, mostly from Moore Haven.

PAGE 15

12 K: Well, what about the people in North Carolina? Did they treat you the same way? B: Well, we never got to see too many white people. K: Yes. B: Well we had white teachers, but of course they were working for BIA. K: Yes, they had to •.. B: They had to be friendly towards us. K: Now what about the matrons; were they white or Indian? B: Well, the real matron, her name was Miss White, she was a white lady, real gray-haired, real old lady. I don't remem ber how old she was, but she was pretty near over 60. I don't know; she was a hard person to get along with at the first, but after you get to know her, she was kind of friendly. K: Most of the faculty and administration were white people, correct? B: But they had Indians from all over to work there as assistant matrons. We had one lady from Oklahoma, she was assistant cook, in the kitchen; she was from Oklahoma, she speaks the same language as we do down here. K: Were you allowed to speak your own language there at the school? B: Yes, we were. If there had been different churches--! was talk ing about a while ago--we could have gone to different churches. When they had Mormon missionaries there, they let us to come to their meetings. They had every Tuesday a meeting in the auditor ium, school auditorium, but we didn't have to go if we didn't want to there, either. K: Were the Mormons successful in converting anybody? B: No. A lot of them, but not the Seminoles. K: What's your opinion of the quality of education you got while you were there? Do you think it was on a par with that you

PAGE 16

13 would have gotten at public school in Florida, in Glades County? B: I think so. I think I would have gotten more from public school than I did, cause I would have been closer to home. But they wouldn't let us go to school here, or I would have continued on. Who knows, I might have gone to college and amounted to something. K: How often were you allowed to return home? B: Oh, we were allowed to come home every summer. K: For how many months? B: About three months. Might have been two and a half. K: Nine months out of the year you were up there? B: Yes. We left about the first part of June and went back the last part of August. K: If anybody had wanted to stay there during the summer, would they have been allowed to? B: No. Because they didn't have anything going on in the summer time. K: Did the government pay for your transportation back home, and then to the boarding school again? B: Yes. K: Would you like to make any remarks on how the boarding school system could have been improved? How you think it could have been made better in the 1940s, when you were attending. Per haps you think it was as good as it could have been, I don't know. B: I think it was. The one I went to; I know I liked it. I enjoyed staying there. K: Did most of the students enjoy it, think it was a good experience? B: Well, you would have to ask them.

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14 K: Yes, I know, but I thought perhaps you might know how your friends thought about it anyway. B: I wouldn't know what they feel, then or today about the boarding school. I only know what I feel about the board ing school. The only reason I let my son go is he wanted to go for the past two years. I held back, and then I talked to the Reverend about it and he said that you should let him go if he wants to. I know one day I have to let him go, 'cause I couldn't hang on to him for the rest of my life. He's got to live his life, and he's got to learn while he's young. K: Well do you have any other comments you would like to make on your experiences at boarding school? B: No. K: Mrs. Baxley, I know that you're not a full-blooded Indian. I'd like to ask you a few questions concerning your ancestry. Perhaps some of the experiences you've had as a result of it. Can you tell me who your mother and father were? B: My mother was a full-blooded Indian; her name was Edith Johns, and she was Bobby Johns' sister, oldest sister, out of the Johns family. And my father was a white man, and he still is. He lives around Okeechobee, and they weren't married whenever I was born. I don't know what you'd call it, a "one nighter," I guess. K: Were you born here on the Reservation? B: No, at the time, there wasn't a reservation. We lived out in the west part of Blue Field, it's between Okeechobee and Fort Pierce. We lived out there until I was about 16, I guess, I don't remember. I might have been twelve at thP time. But we lived on out there for a long time. K: After you were born, you lived with your mother's family? B: Yes, they were my mother's sisters, my mother•'s cousin with them. K: Was there any resentment or hostility towards you on the part

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15 of the other full-blooded Indians, because you were not completely Indian? Were you treated any differently? B: Well, not to my mother's family, but most of the other Indians usually called me a white lady or a white woman or white girl, ever since I remember, and they still do that, even today. K: Is that meant as an insult? B: I guess. To me it was, anyway. K: Was there any other way in which they discriminated against you, were you a social outcast or were you accepted? B: Well, I guess they meant to tease, they teased me a lot. They didn't mean any harm. Back then it made me mad, but I never did take it seriously. K: Would an Indian with a Negro parent be accepted to the same degree that you were by other Indians? B: I guess so. We had one that is part Negro, and he's accepted. There's a family that lives out there towards Fort Pierce now, and quite a few Indian girls are married to colored men, and their kids are accepted into the Seminole tribe. They went ahead and accepted me. Even part, what do they call it Spanish or Mexican, they have all been accepted, provided their mothers are part Indian. K: I've been told that in the past people who are not Indian were not allowed to live on the Reservation. I believe it had something to do with let's see, if an Indian girl married a white man, then she could not live on the Reserva tion, she had to move off and live with the white man, Is that true? B: That's true. When I got married, even though I was part Indian, I married a white man and I had to move off and live with the white man in Okeechobee. That's where I have two cousins that's married into Mexican, and they have to live in Okeechobee or places like that; they couldn't be allowed to live in it. The_ bylaws were set up by the BIA and the government, tribal leaders. But nowadays, an Indian girl marries a white man, or an Indian girl marries a Mexican

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16 and things like that, they all live out here on the Reserva tion. I guess the ones that listen to the bylaws live in town somewhere else. K: Do you know why this changed? B: It's not changed, it's just the people won't accept the laws of the Tribal Council, that's what it is. Some of us figure they meant well, so we abide by laws, like we do state laws. Some of them won't do that; some of them still lives on out here with their parents. K: Is there no way the the Tribal Council can enforce the law? B: They have written them a letter, and the superintendent wrote them a letter, and they still wouldn't do anything; they just live on out here. K: But the law still says that somebody not an Indian cannot live on the Reservation. B: That's the law, and it has never been changed as far as I know it. K: I'm wondering why the Tribal Council can't do anything about it, though. I know that the Reservation is under the juris diction of the Glades County Sheriff's Department, and you have two Indian policemen out here. Can't they be served an eviction notice and told to leave? B: They have been served eviction notice, and some of them don't want to carry out the right. We had a boy that lives here married to one of the Indian girls, and they served it to him, the tribal president served it to him, and he left, moved away. The others won't do it. I guess there are just some that obey the law, like we did, I mean I did. When I was married, I had to live in Okeechobee all the time. K: I guess the Tribal Council just doesn't want to put anybody in jail, huh? B: I guess not. That's the way it seems. And then if we're married to a white man, like I was, the BIA, you know, paid their lunch eon for children at school. And they wouldn't pay mine when I

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17 was living with my husband. I know that still lately, there's a family out here, that their grandma usually takes care of the kids and they get paid by the BIA at the luncheon at school. K: You never lived on the Reservation while you were married to your husband, correct? B: No. K: Did you ever get any benefits from being a Seminole? Did you live entirely as a white person, or did you live under any of the Seminole laws and receive any of the benefits of being a Seminole? B: Well, just me and the kids are accepted on the membership of a Seminole Indian tribe, but other than that they wouldn't pay my hospital bill and things like that. K: Did you go to the health clinic before you moved on the Re servation? B: No, they didn't have a public health clinic. K: Is there anything else you can tell me about being half-Indian and half-white, any of the difficulties that are encumbent up on one that had a mixed ancestry? B: Well there is a lot of hardship and heartbreaking for me be cause I was part white, and my kids are part white now. A lot of people that, I don't know if they meant to hurt us or hurt our feelings or not, but we've been called white and that we didn't have no business out here. And they said once upon a time they were going to move me out of here. I said if I do, I'm taking all the blond-haireds out of here, 'cause there is a bunch out here now, and they're not mine, they belong to somebody. So, I don't know, the family that accuses being white are eating their words today, because of their daughters, who ran around and got pregnant. Most of them are part white and most of them are part Mexican. And I figure I didn't do so bad, because I got married and my kids had a legal names, and they have a right to be born. I didn't have a choice. Even if I wanted to marry an Indian, they wouldn't let me anyway. Even today I would have married an Indian after I left my husband,

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18 but I didn't know the people I'm related to out here, and he might have been my second cousin. That's the way it is out here. You're related to somebody somewhere out here. K: Yes. B: And I don't know that; this I don't want. The only reason I never got married again is because I don't want my kids to be hurt again. Now, I'll never forgive my husband for running off and leaving me. I guess I don't know how to forgive, but that's the way it went. K: Perhaps we could move on to this now, I'd like to ask you a few questions about the role of women within the Seminole Tribe. Particularly before the Indians were moved on the re servations. You told me the other day that you knew something about your own past, and about the past of the Indians, and I was hoping you could help me in that respect. I'd like to know what the women used to do in the way of child care, for in stance. Did each individual wife or mother care for her own children, or was there some sort of communal arrangement whereby children were cared for by people they were not re lated to, that kind of thing? B: Well, at the time of child birth, they go by custom, tribal custom or their clan, you know we had a lot of that at the time I was young. And when I was young, when I had my men strual period, we weren't allowed to eat with the rest, you know, sit at the table with the rest of the family. We had to cook our own meals, we had to sleep by ourselves, and there was certain times that we weren't allowed to talk to a man. K: What times were those? B: They were our menstrual periods. K: Any other times? B: Any other time we could. But to me, they wouldn't allow me to talk to any kind of boys until I was about 19, K: Because you're white, part white? B: No, That's the way

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19 K: Just everybody. B: That's the way every girl keeps her what do you call it Well, the things were different from what they are now, back then, We were taught not to sleep with a man, until we were at a certain age. K: What age is that? B: Well, to me, about 20, I guess. Even though we got bawled out. Well, anyway, their customs and their rules were pretty strict. And when you have child birth, they wouldn't take you to the hospital, they let you have it out there in the woods, close to the house, close to the camp. K: Well, why would you go out into the woods to have it? B: Well, you move off by yourself, around the palmetto patch, you know. They won't allow men to come around. K: Yes, B: And you have to stay there for about 3 or 4 days, and then after 3 or 4 days you could come back closer, among the families that you lived with. But you had to sleep off by yourself, about ten feet away from the other sleeping places. And still you had to cook for your own self. K: Well, when you went out in the woods to have that child, did somebody accompany you or did you go out there •.. ? B: Yes, there all the women could help out if they knew how, but there were no men allowed in. K: Did the medicine man play any part in child birth? B: No. There were no medicine men. K: I ask this question because I interviewed one lady who told me something about child birth. She told me she would go out into the woods--or she told me about her mother going out into the woods to have the child--and she said that the medicine man would be at some other place, a long way off. One woman would go out with her when she had her baby, and when she started to have her baby, this woman would go back and tell the medicine

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20 man, who would mix up some medicine and give to that woman who would take it back to the lady having the baby. Did that kind of thing happen, do you know of that? B: I don't know of that, but when my youngest aunt had her baby, her oldest of that family did doctor and the witch craft and all that. I never did have a child birth. When I was married, I had to learn by white ways and live by them. My husband taught how to cook and everything. When I was pregnant, when my oldest son was born, he took me to the hospital, and I went to the doctors all along, in town, where the son was born. But I never did have a child out in the woods like the others did. But that's the way the custom was when I was on my menstrual period when I was young, when I still had to cook and eat by myself. K: After the child was born, was it cared for only by its mother, or did other people help care for the child? B: Only by its mother. K: For how long? How old was the child? B: For four months. K: Just four months? B: Well, during the time that she was on her period, but after she stopped bleeding, things like that, they doctored her and she could move in with her other family, with the family that she had lived with before. She still had to be careful what she ate and all that, but she still could eat with the child before. There was just certain things. She did have to care for her own baby, but the others could help out, like making up her baby swings and all that. She wasn't allowed to chop wood and anything that's heavy. Then there are just certain things that they were allowed to eat, and, you know, they wouldn't eat certain foods for four months. K: What kind of work did women do? B: Well back than all they did was wash and cook, until the farmers had settled into Florida and they went to pick to matoes. Now, they do anything the men do.

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21 K: Yes. Some things the men won't do, too. B: Yes. Nowadays there's a house full. Just like some women wear pants in the family, things like that. K: Did they work at any kind of crafts? Did they make dresses the way they do now, bead work and things like that? B: Yes, they make dolls and things like that. K: For sale to tourists back in the 1940s and 1930s. B: They did a little back then, but it's heavier, I mean it's pretty regular things they do now. Back then they didn't do too much of that. All they did was hunt, something to live off. K: The majority of the work that a woman did then was done right there in the camp, is that correct, and she could always watch her child? The reason I was asking, I was wondering if at any time a woman had to leave to work somewhere, did she leave her child with one of her own re latives or was there some sort of an organization within the tribe that looked after children? Were there people who were designated as let's say, babysitters? B: Well, if it's like where the elderly woman stays at the camp, her older sister or uncle, a person who didn't work, who stays at the camp all the time, they would leave it with them, but most of the time I didn't work because I was too young to work when I was getting most of the kids.


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