One time I asked him why he didn’t teach us to speak the language.

Ms. Wakeman shares some of her childhood memories.

Audio Chapters

DL: What is your earliest memory as a child from the time that you were real small?<\p>

BW: Well I can remember coming over here. We never had a car. I think we caught a ride with somebody. But coming to Flandreau, it seemed like it was a long ride to me because I was a kid. I don’t think the road was paved. It seemed like I could hear rocks underneath the car. That’s my earliest memories that I can… You know we’d come to Flandreau. Our people came here and they came here because they wanted to live like the white man. They wanted to be farmers and they wanted to… First of all they wanted to be Christians. The first thing they did was to build a church. We had a garment factory at the entrance to the Flandreau Indian School. My mother worked there and she ironed. They made doctor’s clothes for these Indian hospitals. They made dresses and pajamas for the students that went to these schools. They laid out the material, cut it sewed it and she was one of them that pressed the outfits and then they packaged them up and sent them out. During the Eisenhower… When he was in office they closed that factory because they said they were competing with private enterprise

DL: What’s the first news story that you remember from your childhood?  Some event that happened that was bigger than just your immediate community.
BW: Well first of all you have to remember we did not have electricity so you know we didn’t have a battery for a radio so we didn’t really here much but you know what I think about during the war, I think this made an impression on me that they’d have black outs.  You know everybody was supposed to turn their lights out because you didn’t know if these planes would be going over.

DL: Did you learn anything at all about being Dakota in your growing up years?
BW: Well we always knew we were Dakotas.  Like I told you my dad never talked about anything.  They never told any of them, his sisters, you know, they never told us anything.  One time I asked him why he didn’t teach us to speak the language.  He said, “You know what?  Your livelihood isn’t going to depend on whether you can speak the language."

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. One time I asked him why he didn’t teach us to speak the language. May 29, 2024.

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