I want to be an example of what they had to endure.

Ms. Anderson talks about her relatives' experiences growing up and the legacy they left her.

Audio Chapters

I think I probably should mention that my mother and father both were sent away to government schools when they were young. My mother went when she was five, and was there for five straight years and couldn’t come home. She thinks it was five; that’s what she recalls. My dad went to another government school. My mother went to Pierre, South Dakota Indian School, and my Dad went to Stephan Indian School. When learning my history, I found out that all the Indian schools were kind of different. Some were just awful; very, very strict and mean. Some were very, very religious. So if you went to government school -- and she went to government school and I went to government school -- what we would each say [about the schools] would conflict. I think that was done for a reason. I’d say, well, I went to school and it was just terrible. Someone else would say no, my boarding school treated me nice. My dad’s school was strict and it was Catholic. I don’t know if that’s why his whole family on his side was Catholic or not. My mother’s boarding school was strict. Her brother went there too, and they couldn’t have any communication with each other. I do think a lot of Native people who had to go through boarding schools don’t have good relationship skills because of it.

I’m just the next generation out of that time, and so I’m a product of all of what they’ve learned. That is very overwhelming for me sometimes; very frightening. I think [to myself] no wonder I’m a mess. But I also know I’m a big survivor.

DL: Which relative had the most influence on you?

BA: Well, I would have to say it was my grandmother and my one uncle – my mom’s brother. My grandma spoke Indian. She’d say a couple words to us in English, but she mainly spoke Indian. I just loved listening to her. She was a peaceful woman and I liked being by her. I remember sitting by her while she’d sew; she was always sewing. And I think I liked that serene quality about her. I learned that more peaceable quietness, other than just being quiet. There are different kinds of quiet. But anyway, I learned a lot from her and over the years have admired her, but I also admire all my grandmothers because we’re a product of all of them. I have this book, it’s about getting old, and this young girl is looking in a mirror and she sees herself and she’s old, but then in the back of herself is all her grandmothers in a row; mirror after mirror after mirror. And when I read that I thought, oh my gosh! I want to be an example of what they had to endure. I want to be better. I want to live life more than they could. And to me, that’s important. My goal is to live until I’m 76. I want to live to be 76 because then I’ll be the longest living one on both sides of my family, because everybody died before that.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Barbara Anderson Interviewer Deborah Locke made in Granite Falls, Upper Sioux Community, MN | Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. I want to be an example of what they had to endure. May 29, 2024. http://www.usdakotawar.org/node/987

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