Essie's Story: The Life and Legacy of a Shoshone Teacher

By Esther Burnett Horne; Sally McBeth | Go to book overview

ESTHER BURNETT HORNE


Preface

When first I met Sally in 1981, I could have sworn that I had known her all my life. Our mutual interest in the boarding school experience provided the basis for a growing friendship. I remember receiving a letter from her, after she moved to Vermont, in which she requested permission to work with me in recording my life history. I debated at length whether I wanted to be a party to revealing the events of my life, but she was a person who radiated sincerity, and I detected nothing superficial about her. In our working together, I frequently forgot that Sally was not Indian. Her knowledge about our culture and her respect for it, combined with her warm sense of humor and caring ways, helped create a bond between us.

After we agreed on a collaborative approach, I realized that I would have the chance to tell my own story without embellishment. I believe that I have something of importance to share with the educators of American Indians and the public at large. I would like to think that, after I am gone, the value of my educational experiences and philosophies will live on through this life history.

I would argue with any scholar who said that Sally and I could not maintain our objectivity because of our love for each other. We are both too strong and too feminist to let that happen.

The memories that surfaced as we recorded and edited the manuscript brought both joy and sorrow. Sharing the materials and working on my life story with Sally made me more mindful that we are all interdependent parts in the circle of life. Our memories are long—as long as the line of the generations.

I owe a special debt to my family, especially my daughters, Vonnie and Dianne. Sadly for us, Vonnie died on May 28, 1997, but during her lifetime both she and Dianne always supported my endeavors. They traveled with me, especially when they were younger, and endured my assignments to "in-services" concerned with the education of Native American youth. That support is vital to me even now as an elder.

-vii-

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