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

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

CHAPTER SEVEN

Retirement and the I960s through I990s

Essie was only fifty-five when she retired from teaching, and she has remained an active advocate for Indian people in the years since her retirement. She traveled to Europe as an ambassador of her culture, initiated programs to keep kids in school, worked on Indian arts and dance projects, and has testified on the value of the boarding schools—even for modern‐ day American Indians.

Again, the personal record of Essie's life is a miniature of the life of the country, as it faces the issues of its Native American populations.


RETIREMENT

In the spring of 1965, in May, Bob and I retired from the Wahpeton Indian School after having served for more than thirty years in the Bureau of Indian Affairs. I will say that it was an ambivalent occasion. We were happy to be retiring and yet saddened to be leaving our friends and our community. Bob was not as unhappy as I because it was his idea to retire. We were young as retirees go. Bob was fifty-eight and I fifty-five when we retired. I thought I'd like to teach a few more years, but he said he was going to retire whether I did or not. Like Ruth, I thought, "Where thou goest, I go." I decided I would retire, too. It was a great sadness to be leaving the school.

While Bob's roots were in northern California with the Hoopa and mine in Wyoming with the Shoshones, the employees at the Indian school were our real extended family. This is true for many people in the Indian Service. While we were not going to be moving more than about a hundred miles away to our cabin in Naytahwaush on the White Earth Indian Reservation, it was still hard for me to separate myself from my students at the school. The routine I had grown to love so much, which included my association with the Indian Club, the scouting groups on campus, and so many other activities, was so hard to leave. I was very very close to those children. They

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