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This is Indian country. I recorded educational radio presentation produced by the University of Denver. I did a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasting. This is a story told by Indians in their own words and by those who don't and you as well. A study of the American Indian and the modern world which has surrounded him and changed his ancient way of life. My story brought to you by a tape recording made largely on Navajo. I am soo reservations interpreted and analyzed by our guide through Indian country. Dr. Ruth M. Underhill professor the members of anthropology at the University of Denver author and internationally respected authority on her favorite subject the American Indian the Pine Ridge Sue and South Dakota I have a great many problems. Most of them centered around money and how to get it to tell you about these problems on this fifth
program and the series. Here is Dr. Ruth Underhill. The money in Sioux Indian we found out once modern things and that means he wants money. Indians are not supported by the government. All they have from it is free land and free services like schools hospitals and social security. They earn their own living on or off the reservation as they choose. This time my question is What are they doing on the reservation and what are their chances they are here when this break up that word Indian and talk about the tribes separately because they are very different people. We begin with the glamorous Sue heroes of so many movies and stories. Listen to ask a bear running when joint is Western live. That's one of which we don't have to live in a smoky city and it's not a bad one a country out here in the Middle West. I thought so too. As I drove into the Pine Ridge Reservation on a gorgeous July day
there was to be a rodeo and the Indians were crowding in but not bareback on galloping ponies. They were in cars. The car has replaced the horse in the heart of the zoo. No matter how little a family has of everything else they will try for an old jalopy filled with relatives and children. There ODay it was not a Beatle afternoon so I went to the reservation office. Do you know how the Sioux are getting on with farming farming or cattle ranching is about the only way to make a living on those empty hills and the government has been trying to make farmers out of the SU for almost a hundred years. I asked the credit manager a white man. Now we would like to know how the state will take defining whether any of them by doing it when it is successful whether they prefer some other form of life. They prefer some other form of mind. This is quite a few are that interested in life talked farming at one hundred fifty about one hundred fifty.
Let minor damage on the reservation. Hundred and fifty people. I'm going to introduce them to their success. I'd like to get that proportion. Hundred and fifty families you say are successfully farming is that right. They're carrying on what we call more or less economical units and that is a small proportion of it that was the first note of doubt about this it was a farmer. Then I talked to an enthusiastic young ranger conservation officer from Pennsylvania who felt that no one could be asked to succeed with the small plots of land allotted to each family. They started out with 160 acres and some of the homestead acts and here in the western part of the country the productivities of the land is so low that only in exceptional cases what 160 acres provide a living for a family. It was finally increased to three to 20 and then again to 640 in the southwest. But
Congress and passing those acts. President I assume that the productivity here in the West was as great as it and is in the east where those acreage is would have been sufficient or more than sufficient to sustain a family operation. So at the end in a lot of months had the same effect as some of the homestead grants they reduced my were too small and couldn't succeed then needed and or the homestead could succeed on that side acreage. And so a good many homes that actually were deprived of land in something the same way Indians. They went broke and went home. Indians have broken today here is that it. You we should explain about that allotment act of 70 years ago intended to make the Indian into an ambitious pharma pioneer ancestors had come with a burning desire to be nobody's tenant but to own a piece of land no matter how small. Gladly would they work on it from dawn to dark. And they thought it a favor to the Indian to let
him do the same. But the Sioux never had been anybody's tenant and he didn't care about working from dawn to dark. In fact he doesn't yet. So a great deal of the land was sold outright to bytes and a great deal more was leased. I talked to George White Bull and Lottie as they called him about that. How many acres do you have. Well maybe. Almost two sections at me getting this money said to me what do you want adventure sometimes you least and you don't. I'm supposed to section just really not enough to run cattle on it you know and then sets it off. Are you leasing it didn't land yet not happen for pretty good money. Well I don't understand why you couldn't do that takes money to travel with a government and its money to start in if what I say is too much chance of course it does take money to equip a farm and in only reservation days there wasn't
much help given. Now however there's a regular system by which the government lends money to the tried and the tribal council parsons it out to members who show they mean business but government lending arrangements are discouraging to young veterans like I asked a bit rough and we had a blast but what can we work with because that's nothing that we can use to make our own livelihood. Because I there's no out. We don't have no equipment such as track here are a cause or Zach or crew damage tales or even could use but that's when on the what can a man do with just a crude material. Can you not know man they cannot mark on the child because they don't have the equipments to now I thought the tribe had money from the government which it loans out to tribal members. The chimes have funds to loan out but that's mainly par enterprises such as cattle.
And limited and very limited. Still there isn't really enough for aught I know may be known that there isn't enough. What would you be if you were to set up and finally how much would it cost you if you thought we could end it all and I never did get what I know is going to cost tremendous sum and you feel there's no way for you to get cancer in our relation no way now because the land is pretty large check a checkerboard and they sign. Most of the 90s. Range unit. Some white men and the white man is getting at best of the Indian. The superintendent with his staff of trained whites and Indians doesn't feel that such criticism is justified. The officials say they refuse loans of course to a man who has had no farming experience. Peter Cummings a sixteen with long experience in the white world said when you come in You're never seen a cannoli I've never had one in your life and said I'm not alone what do you want to do. But if this individual
could come into the office here and say I'll get 15 or 20 head again. And. I want to use that land sale money for cash. I'd like to have you. I don't think you had better be getting it. They just turn right don't you. I know four fellows on the reservation started out with a long effort. Neighborhood five or six reactors and are successful can you today. Most young SU indeed have not had farming experience even after 70 years spent by the tribe on the reservation. This deal with the white grid manage to put this clearly feelers all their greatest depth in failure is the lack of experience. They go and they become of age for service they go to a service for a time two three years or four and then when they come out they haven't had interaction experience their best
step next would be to hand on some range and they're unwilling to do that and not necessarily will leave the reservation go to some white man or do get that experience and the Indians could if they were interested in ranching there get jobs get experience then you would allow them or you would least to them and me. If they had that experience if they had experience. Thank you very much. They could be later time to in the future will be making homes. Well cover what we're going to be about 15 to 18 and the men would pay for that as he went on. Yes in his work. Yes. So it's not impossible you know men wish to get experience and set up and trying to get it would be possible are land hungry ancestors would have thought nothing of a requirement like that. But SEU ancestors had left lending to the women if any was done at all. And they never dreamed of caring for a food animal instead of killing it. So PETA comings apart
so working for the government since he had to keep pretty close watch on them given limited knowledge. I found it necessary that we should go out and mix with them more constantly and advocate a number of tons of aid necessary to run those cattle through and to try to get and are standing then as to just what it took to rear their families. And try to work out the program follow that for two or three years and then see if they can do better. If they were not doing better then we kept a close eye on you we let him know. This supervision wasn't much appreciated. No matter how necessary it was that was the reaction I got from George white. Bill the man who leases his land to whites and lets them make money rather than farming it himself. I tried to find out why.
Well you have had training you granted your promise about the lot of you know about managing the farm selling. I thought you said you have to have to go to somebody to get commission to do everything that's no good for any of you to go but your life. You see in spite of all these difficulties there are some competent so pharmas you Mr. ion cloud who manages 8 sections with the help of his son. He has a hundred head of cattle and some horses and he's paying off his loan. I wondered how he could do this and his neighbors couldn't. So I asked him about it. Had you had experience with cattle before you started. When did you start. Oh my time. Oh your time when you know I had. How did your father have cattle. Yes. Oh I think you know you began knowing something about it. Yeah. And did you have any questions about it at school. Oh yeah sure. So life long experience was one factor and comings the parts most of his life with whites told me that experience off the reservation was essential
if you want to succeed. Jay Coleman part Sioux part French and part German went further than that. Jake started on a hundred and sixty acres without a loan. He kept horses cows chickens did odd jobs. His statement was that the hard way and I think you did you a sion exists why not get into bed you know and you know make up his mind he can make that it can be done soon there passed the rugged individuals indeed but not in the farming line it seems as though at last we may have to give up that Dogood plan to make them farmers or else the Western land which they prize so dearly funding in fighting does not appeal to them for farming during Roosevelt's administration an attempt was made to keep them by forbidding them to sell it except to Indians. That law has been repealed and now Mr. Halloway who manages the allotments says land is being sold off fast.
Generally that's all part of their land. But more and more of them are selling all the land that they have and still staying on the reservation. They move on their land. Sometimes they move in with relatives or move on and herded Lambs where their ownership was vested in a number of areas. Doesn't mean they worked this land on which they knew they just feel a little sick to just find a place to live. Sometimes they can get work and water on their land. But they don't very often they don't attempt to do anything more than Reza garden. You think they're good many people who live in that way sell their land and own their own most parasites. There's getting to be a larger and larger number that have us so little land of their own that they cannot make a living. Well that does mean that the person who sold his land is in rather a bad situation.
Quite a number of them are living on some form of related. What about the crafts I wanted. Suman used to do remarkable paintings on buffalo hide. A few are continuing that exciting style and watercolor women made beautiful moccasins beaded rubes and painted containers for the family positions. I asked Mr. Kaufman their superintendent about that. I think the Indian people responded doing well actually Priceline and I think that they do make nice things very nice things. But there just isn't the demand for that. They have difficulty of course in marketing up and oh yes that's no way to get rich of course for white bread Another thing is that business takes some person with business ability to handle an enterprise of that kind. So crass don't form much of an outlet nor is there much else to be done in
that empty country where so far oil in your rainy I'm Our only hope. I asked Mr hell away the allotment manager what else they could do. It's quite common for them to go off reservation for a seasonal labor. All of the farm operations are becoming so mechanized that there's less and less demand for labor. Since no laborers This is Jen is the soup council member and committee woman thinks that people with more experience a more Reagan is to worry. Pushing them out there may have been obvious they should try to find jobs but it seems that this year jobs are awfully hard to get and I can see why I stand on a high school placement Council not a college boys and girls also working this summer. And joining town just can't to care. You need people right now and all the high school children in the college place at work.
Another possibility is wage work in the small towns just off the reservation. But this seems to be something wrong with the characteristic Sue attitude toward earning and the obligations these things demand at least this is what a Rushville Nebraska businessman had to say about the relations between Indian labor and white management. Now you take an Indian farmer out here will employ an Indian and he wants his pay every night that is not the case with us because they know they can't have their pay every night. We may guarantee a grocery bill of time for them and make their check out to the AM to the Indian and to the grocery store so that he has to take his check to them to cash it because. I'll tell you frankly and honestly one of the biggest drawbacks of with an Indian today in this country is that they will. They're just so inclined not to recognize an obligation. You take a bank in many instances will loan an Indian money and he
is liable to recognize that obligation for one week or two weeks or three weeks or four weeks as long as he has a paycheck coming every week. But it doesn't bother him a bit if he doesn't isn't able to meet it on the fifth or sixth week. If it's an automobile sure he will pay for that to keep from him. You would lose in his automobile That's right. Now do you know much about how to get to do other people maybe you should. I would say that they would pay to a certain place and other words they might forget the last day. In other words if you were trusting him for a week they might go along for several weeks and pay and then the last week where they'd forget to pay. But of course you know how the white man is he always adds enough on that first week when he loses that last week he has lost anything anyway. Another Nebraska businessman put it.
He said about this do you not know dependability person he said. As I work from Monday through Saturday you pay me you never see him again you can hire him for this time. But Bennett and Oneida Indian explained it worked spasmodically because they hunted at certain times they went to war at certain times in the rest of the time they were there but they were available any time that their services were needed particularly the men folk. And as a consequence of that they're not working eight hours a day five days a week 50 weeks a year which the Western Europeans are used to doing. Having been forced to do it for many centuries. Moreover that the SU has a chip on his shoulder so a lot of white businessmen. Well I don't think there are any Indians I don't know of that does I do not know how to work. But the saying where the Indian he is that he thinks he's a downtrodden person.
Well now how does this feeling that he's a downtrodden How does it effect it doesn't affect his work life it affects you. If Actually it's disposition in this way that he thinks that he's that the average American people think that they are beneath them. I think that's right. So those who are close to the reservation where they can get help from the government or from relatives don't take jobs very seriously. Here is the Rushville Nebraska businessman again along in September and they go broke. You see they're all through with Harvest they're broke and then they move back in on the grandmothers and the people have their own assistants and they move back in with them. They're great people for for communal communal life I what I mean is I don't need or anybody we have a fellow who are here in town who are dependable Now there's a sideline he said and we had this one fellow here who is very
dependable works in our park program then during the winter he does. And he'll have as many as 22 and 23 and he's home which is only a three room apartment to stay in one night. I mean the whole family was in on it and if they don't win well then they'll come and go but he has been this pretty tough for him to keep it this open handed hospitality is an old custom and a beautiful one. If they'd spend the days when riches were in Buffalo meat which is much better we can on the spot than say when a man had plenty of meat. His best plan was to call in all the neighbors and let them eat it up. Then he could be sure the invitations later as Bob Bennett the Oneida who was both a businessmen and a government official put it the union of course was raised in a consumption economy of that nature provided everything he needed. And so when Congress provides a $25000 loan for him to farm he can see why he should put that $25000 into something and do our lot of hard work when done $25 and buy groceries. He
was never raised in a production economy it was all a consumption economy and we haven't got that point over to him yet. In fact the pinewoods like an aristocrat who has lost his fortune insists on living in the old style in spite of present circumstances. It was a wonderful style as ASCO Berowne A says life in the fresh air. Well that was exciting but never steady at least for men. No need to save since there was always more buffalo or deer to be had and constant roving from place to place on horseback. We have seen how the SOW was kept his hospitality and his lack of saving for the horse he has now found a substitute. The car the credit manager finds this way out of line with his idea as a business. Yes our biggest. Request or at least their desire is to get a normal meal. To start with where they need it or not not for work apparently no means necessary for work. They could use a pick up or they could use it
to a great advantage on a ranch we go to take a jeep or pickup and they can always check a fences repairing fences with those but not with a touring car for door to door. Well yes credit for cars and when you find it it's not for any useful and economic purpose. Do you give them the credit then. No not not until they have proven for three to five years that they got some interest in them along. And so the deadlock is maintained. It must be from the eyes of the Sioux. Very much as some might philosopher once said that in order to obtain credit man must first prove that he doesn't need it. Among the Sioux I searched carefully for some sign of hope. I tried to find out whether they had a plan for the future. This is the way Mr. Iron Cloud vice chairman of the council summed it up. There is no time like the present time on a reservation and we had plans for that yet again. We got three big dams on the
reservation and on them is in progress. Mr Indian and young boys that are not in cattle are not living on the reservation. What happened in the work to do to stay home and take care and what little they had worked for the boys would be in constructing them. It would give me that if I didn't come out you know one thing you know it would be days away. Oh yes and what will they do with the dentist finished when I try to year again with family in sections. I will write a lot of them now. The bully work on the dam when they're finished with that way. What can they do. Well then that's up to them I imagine to get homework. There's no hurry to plan that just plan we have time this is a discouraging picture a way of life which was picturesque happy and efficient can be fitted to modern ways yet the old warriors cling to
it. The result according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs is more and more people who can't support themselves and who go on really. This picture of Pine Ridge seems almost like going to get you wary until we look in a new direction. That means look away from the reservation away from the idea of running away even from farm labor or part time work. Look to work in nearby towns. All that is an attempt to put some life in the old plan of making this so in the pharmas. Surely after 70 years it should be plain that the plan won't work. Then rifled apart so who is Area directive for a huge stretch of Northern Indian country told me the ambitious people among the SO are not on the reservation. They have gone to the cities. And why should not city life appeal to a warrior more than the routine of farming it has excitements sometimes as great as those of war it has rest periods. It has rewards. There are so working successfully in Chicago New York San Francisco in
Denver we have long time residents who own their homes and have well-paying jobs. Mr Roboto ASU president of an Indian organization here thinks that's the answer. For the past I'd say for the past 50 years and it's been kept on reservation without a chance to get out of their own. Your research recently under your relocation program on say that majority of the images came off the reservation that created little English to within themselves to make a go of it here in Denver area that the president had around thirty five hundred Indians. And out of thirty five hundred and then I'd say that only about oh I'd say the fourth of them are getting out on their own. People I gave grew suddenly widening. And we have people like Marvin Prue and rod down the line just to name a few are buying our own homes in Denver and like I said I've been given a chance what little chance it wanted they got that people backing them up here and Denver
has a stillness in this dude and I'm to stay in Denver to make good rather than to go back reservation and face the hardships that were had to face and in the past and through the relocation we found that most in here in Denver. Like I said the chance that they've been given and little boost and they don't get that if they get laid off work right and I got they don't get a say loan someone will back reservationist Instead they stick around to help with the relocation and re-establish themselves and later on get good jobs and stick it out here in Denver. I've been here nine years myself. I own my own home at home on a reservation which is hampering me from my own home there in Denver. But I find that I think I do for all the younger We Indians here in Denver and in boys and girls that I don't you're own sooner or later we'll be able to buy all our homes. That's when we have time to chance to sell our real estate a home buy and to Denver and I believe that as far as education is concerned why a majority in this has been here in Denver for the past
15 or 20 years have learned on your own and will make it and they are making it their past not on down to rest and that's coming off the reservation. You've just heard Indian country. I'm the fifth of a series of recorded programs featuring Dr. Ruth Hamburger Hill author I'm not authority on the amount I can enjoy. Next time Indian country will take you to the Navajo reservation and I was on the show you how some modern Indians earn their living. Indian country was produced by the University of Denver under a grant from the Educational Television Radio Center. This program was distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasting. This is B and E.B. Radio Network.
Indian country
The Sioux and what they want
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University of Denver
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focusses on members of the Sioux Nation and what they want.
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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: Bear Runner, Oscar
Interviewee: White Bull, George
Interviewee: Herman, Jake
Interviewer: Underhill, Ruth, 1883-1984
Producing Organization: University of Denver
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-51-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:16
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Chicago: “Indian country; The Sioux and what they want,” 1957-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 27, 2024,
MLA: “Indian country; The Sioux and what they want.” 1957-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 27, 2024. <>.
APA: Indian country; The Sioux and what they want. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from