thumbnail of Indian country; The Indian family today
Hide -
This transcript was received from a third party and/or generated by a computer. Its accuracy has not been verified. If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+.
This is Indian country. I recorded educational radio presentation produced by the University of Denver undergrad from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is a story told by Indians in their own words by those who know WILLIAMS Well. The story of the American Indian and the modern world which has surrounded him and changed his ancient way of life. A story brought to you by a tape recording made largely on Navajo and Sioux Reservation interpreted and analyzed by our guide through Indian country. Dr. Ruth M. Underhill professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Denver author and internationally respected authority on her favorite subject the American way. The modern Indian family is the subject of this program. Now here is Dr. Saunders of the Indian country
show the striking change that came after the war. And what I might call the automobile revolution that is the revolution that set every Indian who possibly could to driving a car that meant going to towns even distant ones buying new kinds of goods. And now let's go back to the reservation. Look into the home. We're on the Navajo reservation. This is where houses used to be made of logs very florid and often covered with they had no windows and the fire was on an open hearth under the smoke. But that is changing as fast as people can manage it. I asked young Harry soci who lives in one of these ancient houses. Most of the time. I can't. And yeah.
You know. You have a kind of new. Thank you. You don't remember anything else. Frank Mitchell a respected old man also has an old style house but not from Joyce. I asked him about it through an interpreter. Now he hasn't changed his ways. There's some.
Kind of battle going on right. How do you know that. Yes he said you can see that I can't afford to have a house like that takes money he says. So I think it stands to reason that I have to and I have to address my best way I can what I can afford to live. And it's not because I don't want to change your release it's because I haven't got the means to put up a house and live like the white people. There are plenty of those style guns dotted over the reservation though often you may see a battery radio in a car outside. Also there are frame houses with modern furnishings. I saw one of that so I when I visited Mrs. Howard Gorman
whose husband has a job with the whites no interpreter here. She spoke very good English. This is going how long do you live here. We live here but 10 years now. And did you tell me your husband built a house. Oh yes he did. Every bit of it every bit of it he did. And it looks just like a house in Denver to me. You have one we think so it's not the best but we we do lack it here we have two bedrooms one living room one kitchen and bathroom running water and electric lights. Well it's more than most. Do you get the running water and electric lights. We get our lights from going out a mission does an institution under the board of national missions. Oh yes Presbyterian Yes. Also we get get our water from there too. We pay every month so much our
par we pay 10 cents a kilowatt hour. Our water we pay 75 cents a 1000 gallons. Well if you know who said it do this isn't that unusual. Yes it is where but only once now here that are close to de mission that it is getting that. And of course the others live too far away of course to get the power and water. Which makes them want to have it if they did have it right. They would all like it they don't want to live in the middle of nowhere. Mrs. son and daughter were dressed in the usual blue jeans and flowered shade which is southwest of where in the country they both still with a halo and their parents and the young veteran so he could go to boarding
school just before school had a moment here. And there but I suppose your children never had such a thing. And just like other children they know more alone. We'll get to some Navajo women even when they're herding sheep. The younger ones though have found that they can buy cheap cotton dresses at the variety store and that sneakers are just as comfortable as moccasins. Two women always wear cotton but the girls prefer slacks. So I found when I talked to Mrs. Genesis I see that the girls wear pants too. Oh yes. When it was comfortable I decided that they have it here and it is because it's comfortable and it's convenient and it saves the wear and tear on the better. This sounds really a completely mind and both girls and boys don't they.
Yes I think Sue girls read magazines and they know all there is to know about beauty aids so I learned from the wife of a druggist's near the Pine Ridge Reservation. Well I think you'll find that all of your high school age girls are becoming interested in home permanents they know that it makes them more attractive to have their hair curled. They weren't sure I don't know want to try and act and they are not. Lot of home and relationships do not get into it doesn't show up. But they are great for lipsticks and they buy lotions and hand creams. There seem very interested in that type of cosmetic and earrings you have to take ratios that a year you need and where they buy more earrings. And of course nearly all of them have their ears pierced. They prefer that pierced ear rings and they do buy a lot of earrings
and and you're right too if they're not too expensive. I thought so even little girls with prominent face when you're you know your permits for tiny children. That's me as a mother to buy them for them I suppose around here. Course you'll find some of the younger mothers right into the heavy black hair which most Indians have looks better in a ponytail than a permanent And so one teenager from the put out. She climbed into my car at the invitation of the government teacher who is with me. And this is their conversation to pretty me. Yeah. Yeah yeah.
Lucy went on to say lipstick too but not on her mouth. She made red circles on her cheeks for the ceremony and so did the men. A great improvement over the eye and hematite which they had to travel so far today. Once upon a time lives in a modern one story house with a refrigerator in the kitchen. Her little brother was eager to tell me about this so I asked him to go story every day. Why do why do you get. Letters. And what is. What. Do you know the story. A very modern diet but many Navajos even in remote parts of the
reservation have also learned about green vegetables and vitamins. This isn't the trader at Tuba City said she had to stop those things because they're cold. They buy a lot of fresh fruit. And a lot of canned fruits and vegetables. I remember where you didn't have anything but sugar lard. Bacon patters. Flour. Now a lot of them not just white people. I think that's right. But there's something you know that's right. I would never use cash at the trading store. They brought in their rugs. Then pointed to what they needed. And the trade according to him.
I asked Mrs. Ellison how they got along with money payments and if they do I suppose we don't. But they do. In a way yes but I'm afraid it's kind of going to get the better of just how much they are in debt and how much they will be able to pay. Sometimes sickness comes along which they don't foresee paying about. And yes I have one of them came out here six weeks ago cards a couple of inches high. How many people do you know where they could locate them. Then you could locate one that was quite curious.
This is listen had some beautiful jewelry in the store which had been pawned according to Navajo custom she told me about that. We take the pond. For however. Much they want it for. Sometimes for. Good and even in some cases case. We keep it 12 months then we put it in what we call a warning case out in the store so they may see that it has been here a year. Sometimes they don't realize. We don't have a very small percentage that has to be so. We now have $10000 invested in pawn so but we have here is a great deal of it is really ancient. Yes it is time. To let you describe one of the hens an old one for you pick one that you think is good.
This is a very good one right here. This 6 7 March hit the Concho. They had no choice in them then it has the marks and won three of the smaller cons.. I would say that is well worth $500 but must be even harder for an Indian the pony and running bills. I asked about that again through the interpreter. No but most have trouble with the installment plan and not knowing that they must pay back and losing in that way I can get worked out on time. So when the proctor throw it out there and I don't and that's among true yes there's a lot of that going on the city like buying a car on the planet and they found a plant there.
They don't get it. They don't take care of the furniture so they do look can't take it back payments. And they also have trouble with doing things on time don't they keeping track of their day of the month that they want to do something about going to cost. I don't think Bob Bennett the young government official who was in the night explain he said flatly this one of the things of course is most of the snow is about time of the fact that lives in the present and he's not oriented to the future as is the case of Western European culture or the average American. And also the fact that so far as thrift is concerned it never
was in their background that they had to say Buffalo was ample. Nature provided them with a living and. They're not oriented to that sort of thing. Indians have another trouble meeting payments and saving money. They're beautiful old custom of hospitality as I've explained before. To do a time when it was mostly food and that wouldn't keep so they shared it with everyone especially relatives and expected to be invited later in return. They still share as one businessmen told me. I do say that they are good family people. I think the fact the matter is I sometimes like it because in many instances I don't know what your experience is but I know many instances where one Indian has money and another Indian has none why they'll divide anything they
got with you. And I thank you very much. That's right. They never get ahead because they are leeches. Well hang on. The Indians however don't think of the family as leeches. Everywhere. So when then making a little money it's likely to be done by the family. Now that the money they return an invitation doesn't come. Young people go off the reservation during wages they spend every dollar and come home broke. Then they must live on relatives for the winter. And these are people pensions. Well majority of our people on welfare for children.
These people bring back and let grandmother take care of children that want Indian children in the days used to make up wonderful games with it. Now they want the kind of amusement their white brother and you see of the Horsetail is such a very modern young lady that I got her teacher to question her about her home occupations. What kind of stories do you read. Time magazine the teacher took the opportunity of handing that one shouldn't read too many comics and that not everything printed as it turned out that even more than reading the children of this television. And I asked him which shows he liked best. About it. But the rest go. And
go and look like thank you. Thank you. When. The car was now surrounded by children eager to tell about their taste in television. Here are some of the conversations you have television that you know don't you write if you like good interesting things about you and sometimes they have long love stories you like do you like cowboys and you like baseball. Sometimes they have to not like but which do you like best for not the kind that the cowboys you know and I did it. I like that kid. I like your
kids. You know you know. What do your community. And. Get get well you know do you call that America that get him. But when you make a noise like a machine make it let's hear it. If I'm going to do to make a real machine bearing on it and then don't do it. Yeah that's a real. And he got us.
Oh yeah. Not many Indians have a chance at television but they can all get hold of comics even those who don't know English and can't read. Enjoy the wonderful bright pictures. I drove up one very primitive Navajo house and found the father of the family himself absorbed in comics. I asked the interpreter I suppose they only don't come to a show outside. Where do they get the comic book. And they don't read them I guess. Then I wondered about more social pleasures. I knew that boys and girls really Mitt in former days except at ceremonies and under the eyes of the old people. I asked Tom Goldman about dances with young Navajos attended. Well how about the social dances that some boys go to in town.
Well there's. They're going to them now more than they usually do that are educated and they're getting in the mood in the spirit they're learning this really sounded very modern indeed. So next adventure do ask. Yes I have. I have a girl. You know. I had when she was Navajo and I went away to Oklahoma and I met another girl she's of another kind in California. Very nice. She's out there. She's checked chancy. Never heard of that.
California. Yes. We're not going steady with anybody. Oh I know. I'm going with her. I'm still right to her. Well no the boys don't take the girls out for a date. Do they Anglos do. Well some do. So I know most of the modern children do but. Others. Take it like that. They see them at Squaw dances or something like the trading post. But they're not like modern children. Oh yes I always thought so. Well the boy who wanted to marry a girl used to take gifts to her family. I suppose they don't do that anymore. Nobody does it so when you want to marry you're just going to ask instead of asking your parents. And then you won't have to go to her house to live there is that used to do it.
I didn't notice Fargo and I thought some people still did it well. Stick together for me. I would have gone there to talk to you. Do you think that you know. Yeah I think. Of course. But when the trend started I wonder how far the broadcaster there is. That.
Supreme sound that we presume he is telling about the virtues of supreme salad. You can't he told me call him good. Party says in the written advertisement since I don't have that kind of party and you needn't say they're all been fresh as the packages. No those don't care if they're fresh. But you say they're good for children and you tell what picture there is on the package. So people who can't read will recognize it. Dana has something like 40 sponsors for all sorts of products. And he reaches something like 90000 listeners every day as he explains it. I. Don't want to. Force. Record. Record. Record record. And.
Just for example on. One interview we went. Up to question. Your top public records are being played at that time. I used to play in the top 10 school years. And I have comments. Because most of those locally entered the top from the off the reservation to their friends on the reservation. Reservation. They said. We're allowed to get some of these big cities. And
school old school years. So even those with no English and no reading are getting information about the modern world in a way they thoroughly enjoy. Perhaps there is a hint for those who can't seem to make Indians accept what they want to teach. I'll close with a few words from Dana big broadcast. Here is an Indian who knows how to sell things to the family. Perhaps the white people with their desires to educate learn something from. You. You've just heard Injun country and the fourth in a series of recorded programs
featuring Dr. Ruth M. Underhill author and noted authority on the American Indian. Next time Indian country will take you by tape recording to South Dakota. When I talk with the Pine Ridge so on the problems of their economy Indian country was produced by the University of Denver. I'm Greg Graham from the Educational Television and Radio Center. This program is distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasting. This is D and E. E. B Radio Network.
Indian country
The Indian family today
Producing Organization
University of Denver
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-4j0b0r5c).
Episode Description
This program discusses the modern Native American family.
Series Description
The problems of social adjustment in the attitudes and through the words of the modern American Indian.
Broadcast Date
Social Issues
Race and Ethnicity
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Interviewee: Mitchell, Frank
Interviewee: Gorman, Tom
Interviewer: Underhill, Ruth, 1883-1984
Producing Organization: University of Denver
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-51-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:11
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Indian country; The Indian family today,” 1957-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 19, 2024,
MLA: “Indian country; The Indian family today.” 1957-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 19, 2024. <>.
APA: Indian country; The Indian family today. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from