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This is Indian country. I recorded educational radio presentation produced by the University of Denver under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in full operation with the National Association of educational broadcasting. This is a story told by unions in their own words by those who know and you know as well. A study of the American Indian and a modern world which has surrounded him and changed his ancient way of life. A story brought to you by a tape recordings made largely on Navajo and Sioux reservation's interpreted on how the lies by our guide through Indian country. Dr. Ruth M. Underhill professor emeritus. Of anthropology at the University of Denver author internationally respected the sort of take on her favorite subject the American Indian. This is the Third Programme in the series and Dr. Underhill will talk about some of the revolutionary changes which have shaken the Indians ancient way of life. Dr. Ruth under our last glimpse of Indian country show
that it is not the quiet backwater some white Americans dream of. In fact Indian country is seething with change. An example of the outside pressures which are forcing modern technology into the life of the Indian is the atomic discovery on the Laguna reservation in New Mexico of uranium. I've learned of this while visiting the Navajo and asked the superintendent about it. Oh yes I believe it's called the Jack by a. Mine and it's a strip mining operation. I recently saw a picture of it and I'm sure you have the ground to be sure. I think it's a very very fine line that eventually will pay to have them look down the people I. Tremendous amount of money and you know the idea is a great one man. It was close to the situation and I just thought he didn't know nobody just thought that
maybe there are five hundred million dollars worth of uranium somewhere around me living on the land. Even the speculation of 500 million dollars worth of uranium is bound to cause a good deal of change. But since there are estimated to be only 2000 Laguna Indians this promises on a per capita basis to provide around a quarter of a million dollars each. And I was curious about its effect. So when I pass through the Laguna reservation later I asked one of the residents I met on the road about it. The promise of so much wealth that made him cautious and just a little overpowered by it all. This is part of our conversation. Well a lot of money. That's true I think. You know your family here. But I don't know I don't know and I just don't know now. We couldn't hear what you said before how much do you think that night. Well maybe if you would hear about it first. I
want you to figure. Yes you don't know it might be a few thousand then much more later this may give you some idea of the violent revolution which is shaking the Union by the discovery of uranium on the Laguna reservation is not completely unique. Other Indians are coming into great and its accompanying problems. In fact change has become a common thing. It is all but replace the ancient way if you want to hear about ancient customs or see ancient objects. You must seek out some very old person and even he may not be much help. For instance I asked one of those do you never use bone marrow now. I saw a little boy. Why does nobody use it for hunting. In fact Bowen arrow days are far behind in the past and horseback days are going that way. Indians are now in the throes of what I might call the automobile revolution. It has hit the red man rather later than it did the white man but is
making just as much difference in his customs. For instance he need not now do all his trading on the reservation. You can go to the nearby towns you can see the styles in clothing and house furnishings even cosmetics and preeminence which you show here. In fact a new world has opened up and the pick up other jalopy is becoming as dear to him as once the horse was Indian men used to be trained to ride horses from babyhood. But the car is a different proposition and not so easy. Officer Malone of the Gallup police is baffled by the Navajos inability to grasp our accident and insurance laws. He told me that the majority I mean they are a pretty fair guy right. But they. We have problems here on our own no accident. I think that they need it quite a bit of coding and they say they had a bad habit whenever that they smash
into an automobile that they will run well and which we don't know why we can't figure it out like our younger generation they are coming along fine. Good education good idea that they're pretty for a driver which can give nobody a 100 percent. Chief Nelson of the Navajo reservation thought the Indians would learn in time. This is his statement. Well yeah but since as a doctor especially a pickup truck that you see so much. For sober I was not a fast runner. I think that we can attribute our lack
of not our lack but our minimal serious actions to the fact that even if the novel. Q My children did you find your book and I'm trying very hard to keep to the right shoulder of the road. So when we stopped by the police. At all times the speed is not a problem on the reservation with Jeff Nelson mentioned there being drunk or sober. And it's true that the Indian in these days as often had a good deal to drink and mentioned in connection with that the law against selling liquor do Indians has been repealed at least for Indians off the reservation. Jeff Nelson thinks that Indians don't drink any more than whites in proportion to their numbers but they do it differently if you like.
It feels like blind nationalism for all insurance office and below the Gallup police who has the job of arresting unions when drunk in town knows all about this. They still have a day added to their crotch with their liquor and they know that it will be a confession created well in which it will be. They seemed to have the knowledge to take a more or less that they will buy a bottle of wine or any kind of have a talk to creating like an include in court. So they take off the top and that they'd Yes they just drop it down so that the model is never never stopped and don't let it completely empty. Does he take any average version will you drink a pint of wine. Kind of wish could write just ride straight and be a pretty good old timer. You need a little
more a little more training as far as it has your alcohol beverage to push their contents out of the alcohol. If you drink a little slower. A Gallup judge who deals with Navajos and blows both says there are 50 60 repeaters who come before him. Over and over again I asked you about them. They can be released one morning. Sharing Assange or being put on probation by the court and believe that this this certain group of individuals may be a fact for which they were coloring mostly crime they will be back in again before the 24 hours are out me back in court the next morning they were arrested and go to jail simply for being drunk. They haven't committed any offense. Well sometimes fighting with drunkenness. It's all powered by one small regulation which when it
comes to the U.S. This is a familiar pattern with the alcoholic in any race. The pattern of repetition in a howling dust storm in the desert on the road out of Albuquerque. I came across one Indian who was apparently following this pattern too much to drink in trouble. His face was bruised as though from a fight and he had a dirty bandage over one hand he was drunk as he told me this rambling story about the war. This man I suspected was one of two militants repeated his question. OK now I see Mason and then finally I think maybe I'm back and you got wounded then we're with it. It was a coming and then of course when they called us and asked sag when I came the fantail on the ship and nobody said that.
Thank you for coming in and. Maybe when you speak to the station and I think. About that. And I just woke up. I mean I'm gonna wake up. What am I going to. Do you know just almost like the kind of mind probably you know. And. So to be honest I do. I can remember something that the board did contribute to the number of alcoholic repeat but I had the same story about this issue.
And one of the businessmen in a nearby town said the women drink too. Do tell us a little bit about the alcoholic problem in Russia. Personally I think it's getting very bad. And from my own honest observation I think the women are much worse than Jimmy Reed. Yes I do. I think that the women are worse than the men in fact the matter is now they tell me that last night that out of about 20 Indians that they picked up and thrown in jail at about three fourths of more women. Now what are they doing when it picked up by they really disorderly. Oh yes they really are and they just get on the floor and on the fight. And it's just a brawl. That's what it is to not just staggering alone. Oh no we're not individually they just fight among themselves to fight with knives it will be a no no I don't think that. No it's just more of the. Argument not anything really dangerous.
Oh no I don't think it's anything that you know or that the law can't cope with or anything like that but it's just a disorderly proposition and they put them in jail. Do you think Indians get arrested sued for misbehaving on the street then I would don't like there's any question in the world about and I think there are probably far more prosecuted or persecuted it's whichever word is correct than you or I or anybody else that would be doing the same thing. Now if it's just an argument I can imagine that white men might be having a No I sure that's round voiced and not get arrested. That's right they do. No I think the Indian is absolutely persecuted on one hand. From that angle I think that there's been a white man right up town tonight that will be just as drunk as any Indian could possibly be and he'll drive home. But it's the same but by the same token he and he will get thrown in jail and then not everyone there is to do Rushville it's the Rushville authorities who pressed you to go in Rushville
Sardi's the state police and the sheriff and the county county officials but it's the same thing in any other town along the line where the unions go it's the same thing in Rapid City it's the same single and same thing in Scots bloods and same thing in Chadron. I think they're persecuted to a certain extent. It's possible this businessman is right and one of the super policemen thought the same thing. I had asked him there was no liquor on the reservation but I suppose they got it off the reservation today. Yes you see they can buy it in Nebraska and off the reservation. So it's we were located right in a state line so it made kind of bad and can they carry it back and drink it or you know arrest them for that it's against the law to have it on a reservation we made quite a few arrests for possession of liquor on the reservations. What do they drink mostly that whiskey. Well I can't afford whiskey they go more beer and wines like a lot of you know to make a person very drunk wouldn't it. Well I don't know I seen them get drunk on just very little beer.
And then when they are drunk you have do you have misdemeanors after that Carlos. Oh yes just the results and stabbings and minor fights. Well do you think that is. Is there any more of that now than there used to be years ago. No I don't believe there's any more. I believe it's just been brought more the public's eye since their reservations and the Indians were allowed to possess the record particularly juvenile delinquency. He thought it was brought about by drinking among youngsters who had no proper restraint. Well now you said something about juvenile delinquency. How much of that and what sort did you see on the reservation. Well it's find a lot of it pertaining to alcohol brought about by alcohol the kids want money to buy their liquor when they get 16 17 years old and we have no do no authorities whatsoever on the reservation. I find it our police departments are well they're outmoded they're outdated their methods are old and there's no modern nothing modern about police
departments and they don't know Indians out there I guess is they're all Indians and. They're mostly local boys have never had anything to do with the white people you know see how the white man runs his hair and his problems. I think they had all taken a look at it as the white man would I think would do with a lot of juvenile delinquency and say well those kids get him off the reservations get him out where they could do some good. Particularly at this time when there's a good deal of uncertainty about what the government is doing for the Indians are going to do this is Jonas the SU thinks they feel uneasy. Here's her statement about juvenile delinquency. I think this is this past summer I don't know why yet it has been a bigger problem this summer. Maybe it's because everything is so are so many people here that they just everybody is restless at this time because this change is being made in keeping interconnection. It's just I mean come on air and rest and change are working just as they are with whites to draw the generations apart with
Indians was young people used to be very respectful and obedient to the old. This change when it happens is striking. This is what Chief Nelson of the Navajo police told me. Home situations. Concerned are going to be a very fine result. Not type parental contact should try the word child only because you're too much liberty. All parents are indifferent as to what China is doing when it comes. We find also were their age. Jason succession is usually taught by family father or mother. Reach on down children they have a
different conception of what she expected of family and community than the children who come from good stable Bob Bennett said the same for the soup. And that is one of the difficulties we have on the reservations when we do it. If parents are not equipped to give advice and counseling on the home so we have Indian children who go through the motions of finishing high school but there is a last degree educated but they're not a well-rounded individuals because they don't get the home type of advice and counseling their parents aren't equipped to give it don't because they don't understand the Western European culture and to give advice and counseling in the home. Young people who used to work illegally at games of war in horsemanship now either want cars or want expensive recreation like the whites. And just as with the whites there recreation is often Mr. Ray fighting who had been a simple Eastman felt as many whites do. Then more organized play would be a help. He put it this way.
There's no recreation organizations or anything like that for the kids to look at the kids amuse themselves without organization. Yes if you're going to do so you know like I said they could organize a football team themselves. Well when I was out of force of their route we organized baseball teams and said so much we could but. Well a lot of the kids think that it's that's for juveniles who are growing up when they get 16 17 and they want to get out with their older folks and the Lakers are always available. And it's so weird back to the league. I have given these various reports on reservation troubles because they are part of Indian life today of course and not all of it. I shall have plenty to say about Indian achievements an Indian family affections as I go on just now. I'm pointing to the changes that are shaking Indian life out of its old channels. Many of them look bad at first just just changes due to whites. Until we understand how to handle them then two white people living far from the
Indian seem to get a distorted picture of life on the reservations. There are pressing problems today brought about by change and they have been problems in the past but they have been exaggerations too. For example you may recall reading about the plight of the Navajo back in the early thirties when he was going through the painful changes necessitated by a transition to a grazing economy. You may have heard about the severe winter snows that brought him hardship. He is now a man it was this that this man was the administrative officer of the Navajo reservation at the time of the Blitz. Yes as I recall that was back in 19 31 or 32. And at that time there was considerable News in the newspaper and on the radio as to all the hardships they were having so. Our superintendent at the time wired the chief clerk and wanted him to make an immediate survey and called him back as to what the conditions were. They finally musta gotten about 20 miles from headquarters and go in to get a little bit worse
all the time. We saw Hogan over in the distance about a quarter mile off the road that the chief clerk knew. So we thought we'd get out of the car and walk over there and find out how they're getting along so we plodded through the snow and got over to the hole gone and knocked on the door. They came in the door and we knew this Navajo I won't mention him by name. Chief Beck asked him if I was getting along. I was but he says I'm fine he says a lot and I hear you doing out on a day like this. After these few glimpses some of the changes in Indian life and the problems brought about by change Babs actually know what's happening to change the Indians ancient religion. Most of the pueblos have found a way to be practicing Catholics and still carry on their ceremonies with a sympathetic understanding of the priests. The sued to regard their occasional public ceremonies more as a sign of tribal patriotism than as a practicing faith. The Navajo still have their
medicine then our chant is to keep them in harmony with the spirits both physical and mental. But there are changes in the ceremonies as Charlie Upshaw complained. I asked him through the interpreter changes that interesting. OK I get a good a good story. If he had I'd like to mention one particular same one which we called a blessin way a blessing ceremony that has been handed down from generation to generation and I believe that it's only a cinema when it really has not a bit of change in what has happened to the other. I get paid. As I mentioned these three public dances and
that has taken some change. I mean it's not it's not the medicine man to conduct the ceremony that has added changes to the ceremony. It's a public it's the people of the people the younger generation. They're kind they're they kind of ended up they're not of things that I put in a position where I can come to make it peppy or something like that you see Modern Sounds in connection with it and that's what's causing it to change to a certain extent the internet but I had a loyal feeling about the ceremonies though he was now a member of the Catholic Church. I asked him Well what is your. Regular practice their character their religion and what the church requires me to do what I've done. I try to keep that up but on the other hand I still have those scenes in me that I that I am and I will hope. How about you surely you know there are better times Catholics but they're
all the way from the church to you they don't bother to church you know they don't bother about any kind of religion. They don't even know why but it seems so because once of me my wife is as you know just like a. Real ceremonies just say you know and agree with them. Sometimes you. Just can't get away from a schoolboy and basketball player who has joined a Protestant. I was in two minds about. People that are kind and educated that I believe in their own religion dances and dance in them. But I am
educated more than they are and don't believe in what they believe in. I just go along with their ways as well. Your whole family doesn't quite believe is that it. Well they believe in them they believe in. It's just in you know I just can't help it. We have a religion Protestant and there against all that religion. But we did have a rule that for us not to go there as a witness. If you go there they say there's a Protestant pushy guess our religion and they say it's not right but it's all in you know us help. Yes I should think it would be on you after all these centuries surely.
And the superstar stick ship or station that's that now you know you can have that in you. Tom has been taught to use the word superstitious for the old Navajo believe in the harmony of all things. I am glad that belief is still in him. I hope his white friends will be able to show him that it accords perfectly with the Christian religion. The Navajos haven't yet found the best balance between the old ways and the new. But even some of the old ones you know the old ways best feel that they must try. This is what Frank Michel said through the interpreter. That's where I think question Dr. Trager. OK I'm going back to the only day he says I don't I don't believe in that you know yours because he thirsted there. Things went from the bad kind. I know from the people you know that way before the white people became a movie and of course they could come get him so I did together. You can expect to change that back to that
same question if it could be damned I might when I kept things I could be a way to. It's impossible to expect back. I think that when you would you just don't wish Well thank you next one season. So I'm not going to future but I see from my people is to get a credit with the white man's way I've made him a living being not abiding citizen and me and my dad and then he said with some ammonia that we can you can you live I'm happy for helping me. I'm. Not. Here and I'm in trouble. You just heard engine country for the third time series of recorded programs featuring Dr. Ruth M. Underhill author and noted the sort of American Indian. Let's time on Indian country. You're about to you can join someone in the modern world
in the country was produced by the University of Denver and Greg ransom the Educational Television and Radio Center. This program was distributed by the National Association of educational but just this is the AMA E.B. Radio Network.
Indian country
The changing Indian
Producing Organization
University of Denver
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, "The Changing Indian," talks about the changes that have occurred in the typical Native American's life by the mid-20th century.
Series Description
The problems of social adjustment in the attitudes and through the words of the modern American Indian.
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Social Issues
Race and Ethnicity
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Interviewee: Bennett, Bob
Interviewee: Whiting, Ray
Interviewee: Gorman, Tom
Interviewer: Underhill, Ruth, 1883-1984
Producing Organization: University of Denver
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-51-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:00?
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Chicago: “Indian country; The changing Indian,” 1957-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 21, 2024,
MLA: “Indian country; The changing Indian.” 1957-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 21, 2024. <>.
APA: Indian country; The changing Indian. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from