I can still picture that area where my two aunties were dropped off at the road

Ms. Schommer talks about growing up.

Audio Chapters

DL: What is your earliest memory as a child?

CS: My earliest memory is about my dad. He had two sisters, but they lived in South Dakota. You came through that area where we used to live, and I can still picture that area where my two aunties were dropped off at the road, because they would come by train from Flandreau. And there was a white man that always used to give the community people a ride back from town whenever they went shopping for groceries or whatever. Well, he brought them down and he dropped them off at the road, at the highway and what I remember and what I can visualize in my mind yet, is my two aunties coming [to visit]. And that was my first memory. So I must have been at least two or three years old then, because we lived up on that hill there for a few years. That much I remember in our life there. We really never moved around too much; I mean, different places, homes, in what was a village then; it was not a reservation. We were a village. But where I was born, I call it the River Bottoms, it has a Dakota name, they call it Hekute, that section, and that comes, like I said, along the river and then it goes down 67, and this area where I’m talking about where my grandfather and the church and everything used to stand, that was Hekute, was below the bluffs and Gahkmeeta, that’s the area where I was born, Gahkmeeta. It’s like that road goes like that. It comes up 67 and then it goes. So the reason why they call it Gahkmee is that it takes that curve to go towards that village where we lived. So they called us the Gahkmeeta Oyate people because that’s where we lived, along the bend in the road, or the crook in the road. I don’t know how to really translate Gahkmee.

DL: And your earliest memory is from there?

CS: Yes, right in that area.

DL: What do you remember?

CS: Well, there were so many things, like just where we could go. We did a lot of fishing, we did a lot of going off into the woods and wandering around, gathering either flowers, berries in the summertime; we used to go swimming in the river. And in the wintertime was when our auntie would come over and tell us stories. We Native people, as far as I know, most Natives, but us for sure, do not tell stories in the summertime. All our stories are told in the winter, because they say if you tell stories when there isn’t any snow on the ground and it’s not winter, you’re going to have a lot of little creatures coming into your home. And they mean anything from snakes, to bugs – and it does happen.

There was an incident two days ago with my granddaughter. Racial things that were said, only because this white person; I don’t know how old he was, and I don’t even know his name, and I was born and raised here, but I don’t know everybody. But what he said to my granddaughter and my family, that just makes me – it made me angry. And why are we still hearing these things? Why is it we were born and raised here, I was born and raised here and there were times when I was growing up, that’s what I am – I am an Indian. You know if some of the kids say Indian, it’s a, "Oh, you Indian!" Well, that’s what I am, so why are you saying that? But I do also have a name, but I never argued with them on that point. They were telling me the truth and I’m Indian. They never said any more than that. And when I started high school I had a friend – very nice, we were very close. She was so kind to me from the beginning. And I had a little bit of something going on with one girl, and I think it was our gym class and we were out on the football field. And this girl, she said something to me and I don’t even remember what it was, but I did answer her back and of course this friend of mine, she heard us. She came over, “What’s the matter, Carolynn? What’s going on here?” And she looked at this other girl and, “What is it, Lois, what are you doing? What are you saying to her?” And Lois – I can’t remember what it was. I said, “I didn’t like what you said. Words were going back and forth here. I didn’t like what you said.” And my friend, Artie, she was getting all flustered – she was just like a rooster. And she looked at Lois, the one that was saying things to me, and she said, “Well, all I’ve got to say is Carolynn here is a better Indian than you.” And I looked at her and I thought, “What are you saying,” I said, “She’s not even Indian.” And that broke everything up right there, you know, we all started laughing because Artie was so flustered and she was just the third party coming in and she didn’t settle anything. But it was funny then, because she said, “She’s a better Indian than you,” and I probably was a better Indian. But Lois, even her, she started laughing and then we forgot the whole thing. But if you can handle things like that…

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Carrie Schommer Interviewer Deborah Locke made in Granite Falls, Upper Sioux Community, MN | Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. I can still picture that area where my two aunties were dropped off at the road May 29, 2024. http://www.usdakotawar.org/node/1115

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