They tried to keep me in school.

Ms. Anywaush describes growing up, going to school, and the Dakota language.

Audio Chapters

JA: They tried to keep me in school. My dad would make my breakfast in the morning and wake me up and get me off to school, or get me going to school. That didn’t mean that I actually walked through the door of the high school. I always went to visit my older half-sister. They tried to keep me in school. It was important. But I didn’t like it. And I didn’t like school down here. It was, like say for science class, they always had projects they were doing, but you needed money to even get the basics. You had to have some sort of case, you know, with a glass cover, and the pins to stick through the insects and cotton to stick them in. I was wondering afterwards if there were any Indian kids that could afford to do that. So that didn’t work out too well.

DL: When you were a little girl, what did you think about your future?

JA: No, I never did. Other than the high school, they tested us, and it seemed to me that they never said we could become lawyers, or doctors, or flight attendants—nothing like that. It was always clerical. They always made sure we knew how to type on the typewriter.

JA: We always lived Southeast, and we would walk sometimes through the campus. It’s funny that we never really thought about going to school there. We would see all those kids, all going to college and it never occurred to us to go to school. Now that I look back at it it’s kind of amazing. It wasn’t until later, until we were older and my husband and I were married, and he went to school on the G.I. Bill. I was always working on reservations. In Morton—I worked at the Environmental Office. And the grants ended and I was like a displaced person. Then I finally went to school, and I enjoyed that a lot and I always wished I had been younger.

We can’t speak fluently, and so we were trying to put that grant together and trying to figure out how come there’s all kinds of us like me—me and all my cousins, and I’m sure hundreds of us. This is what I figure, because my dad wasn’t supposed to speak and my ma wasn’t supposed to speak their own language so they always spoke in an undertone. They asked us questions, but we never responded in Dakota. I was remembering my grandmother. When she talked, it was always with her hand covering her mouth or whispering and I thought we got the idea that speaking Dakota wasn’t the thing to do. So when she asked me a question, I answered in English. And so now we’re desperately trying to hang onto that language, and they’re teaching the kids and the high school kids, but we’re still out there. There’s a bunch of us like me, and so we were hoping we could get a grant together to try—it’s almost like a last ditch effort, if we could just go someplace and just sit with my Auntie Carrie and talk we’d somehow get to a point where we could speak fluently. Because there’s all kinds of words that we know, but we just can’t string them together.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Judith Anywaush Interviewer Deborah Locke made in Granite Falls, MN | Thursday, March 10, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. They tried to keep me in school. May 21, 2024.

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