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

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

CHAPTER FOUR

The Move to Eufaula, Oklahoma,
and Marriage, 1929-1930

Leaving Haskell brought home to Essie the real security of the boarding school and the sense of family developed there. Her memory of beginning to teach in an Indian school emphasizes her commitment to add to the positive experience Indian children would have at boarding schools. In many ways this is like a multitude of stories of a first job and the need for an emerging professional to prove herself in an initial situation. Here, of course, the story is complicated by the fact that a new teacher is one of very few Indians actually teaching other Native Americans.

Essie's story is not solely that of proving her own value in the cultural setting in which she finds herself. It exemplifies the larger story of Native American emergence into the mainstream culture without a concomitant loss of the Indian culture.

Essie's story is also the story of pan-Indianism, an unplanned child of the BIA. As a teacher of Indians, Essie was exposed to a variety of Native American cultures outside of her own, as well as to the style of Anglo supervision and administration. It's the story of a young adult secretly keeping her cultural heritage alive and of a young woman marrying her high school sweet‐ heart—an Indian from thousands of miles away.


EUFAULA CREEK GIRLS BOARDING SCHOOL:
FIRST TEACHING EXPERIENCE

There was a great need for teachers in the Bureau of Indian Affairs schools and few qualified personnel to fill them. Soon after my arrival back at Haskell, I was recruited to take a position at a boarding school for Creek girls in Eufaula, Oklahoma. It was called the Eufaula Boarding School. Miss Ritter, the head girl's adviser, had a going-away party for me before I left. That would have been in February 1929. She invited Helen and Gordon and Finn to her apartment in the girl's dormitory and made a delicious meal; I've of

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