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moon we naturally when america was in the midst of the great depression of the nineteen twenties and early nineteen thirties president franklin delano roosevelt started a program called the works progress administration or wpa one of the great programs to come either that it was a writers' project unitas or in the writers' project and given an opportunity to write their life stories and get paid for participating numerous girls were collected stored and forgotten until the late nineteen nineties when there are farm in storage at the university or scars and madison campus the stores are crucial i'm walking on history in hundreds
early nineteen hundreds it was not only oral history but it was the preservation of the oneida language because those who wear arm selected to work in this project not only could read and write english very well but they could also speak oneida fluently and could write or night at the journal's covered everything that covered every day life told how the roads were repaired and how people had to contribute to their talk about the foods that were p beard by the women wild men worked collectively told about quarrying stone floor of the stone church in the parish hall told about people who were born people who die at the dna even beyond immigration from a new york state because the people that were being interviewed in nineteen thirty nine forty forty one where people who remember
the immigration or remembered immediately because they may have been born here but they were told and buy their parents about what it was like to immigrate from him in a new york state through the great lakes and then to come to green bay and make a settlement they talked about all of these things it's very detail that it's their life and times as a side for when the alliance migrated from your state wisconsin that came to a strange place in the other western tribe of indians were somewhat hostile to them so it had to be continuing on guard in case of sudden attack there were always talking to the people that they must cooperate in order to survive they lived in the woods in groups and the groups were not far from each other celebrities to get in touch with one another in case of danger in those days
they shared their homes to end clothing and times of sickness there was always someone gender specific to win the reservation opened in the way people began to settle here that was the beginning of a change that was impossible for the ally tests remain the same migrated from new york to wisconsin we signed a treaty with the menominee nation in the eighteen twenty two to share all of their alliance and that was forty million acres of land it was all the way up to be to knock michigan and to all our door county all of the east side of lake winnebago down to milwaukee that was taken from us in eighteen thirty one by this dumb bot treaty and down there was a lot that was a big political fracked gas in this area by the french out previously fur traders who had married
menominee ladies and living green bay and these are french fur traders buy influence the tribal leadership at the time the sheets and said that's not a good deal to let the new york indians still live on our land chiefs way into the menominee chiefs went to washington and said we got to do something with his hair what the ged was send out colonel stone buck and said dr salah ah i called colonel stone by hitman because he came to specifically to do that job and he would reduce the oneida is interesting eight million acres of land the five hundred thousand acres in one fell swoop with out any say so from the indians who had purchased it i guess we had purchased a weepy made to separate payments when in eating twenty one one an eating twenty two
at the time of the marriage of my parents there was still a gentle accustomed to marry according to be old and i always and that was for the mothers of the young people to baker for an arranged marriage of their children only as i have mentioned before the powers that be in this particular case was an overbearing egotistical and consequently my mother she told me was married to a tall stranger from this union nine children were born deaf in some form or another claimed all little brother and me my father's land was in the southern part of the oneida reservation they just an insight into online comprised of a boat one hundred acres as my grandfather had died and my father was operating the farm had the time of my birthday
and i'm told by my parents but i gave my first walk at their residence with an online a midwife in attendance that also was the first in the house where i was born was a howl though considered a respectable home lawfully at that time there was a log house although i spent only a limited time there i still recall that it contained two rooms on the ground floor one large room upstairs a framed by and stood it appeared to be about a mile to the north although it must have been only about fifty yards here we kept our cow and horses and there also are trapped chickens by pulling a strain which closed the door to the barn dr wen although many of these original loans are gone like the journal's many of these cabins are being preserved life inside these cabins was hard but simple and each
family member had a special even extended families live together forming special bond these two of my uncle when it we became her home especially in atlanta he was my mother's brother and was one of the little independent characters there's too much feathers for you you as a hunter and fisherman storyteller my very unfortunate as the cause of liberty how soon and to whom they would be mary who haven't shuffle the carrots
cut them into several smaller files and pick out their representative face and then he would lay them off nine parts across and seven down before his three returns i was invited to do that relationships forged between family members of the tradition of passing down our history orally from one generation to another earliest forms of written history was a while it was said that the bill would be brought out once a year so the agreement's trees and meanings behind the bill would be renewed with the people so no one would forget yes we were the only other in history we have is that of the letters written to her cheese to communicate with the president during the eighteen hundreds and those were mostly on many issues that are affecting them
you know villages here in wisconsin have a way of communicating with each other and that was in the former un louis xiv while ago it was the custom of the oneida is when someone had an accident and a guide also assert man was told him he would run on the room every so often he would holler a certain way and when people heard him they knew that someone died from an accident they consider this a sacred event and they were shocked when they heard you holler their way the romans they were hungry and they could hear him a long ways they used to call him the messenger runners were sent from one village to the other to announce on the event and it not only happen with
such things as desperate such things says celebrations are perhaps an accident one person died everybody in the entire reservation new because it that you calling a bell at church if the person were twelve years old told fell twelve times and they were ninety they would also pulled down about ninety time so yes indeed someone had been ill you could very well figure out about who had passed on as time went on waters were replaced by phones and now email technologies change traditions one of those traditions practiced by many tribes is called him the feast we hold a special ceremony for people that passed away we say that when a person passes away they travel all the places in which they have been
on the ninth day of peace is preparing an empty chairs set out in a food played a set for the first week you say that food is intended to merge the person on their journey on a ten day the full plate is buried in the spirit is released to continue on the journey a lot of things without our culture one hundred craft and that was soon because the church didn't approve of the government can prove it and then in the nineteen seventies says when we began to do the revitalization and i was part of that movement to allow him we knew we weren't in on where the power behind him pride in being indian was starting to be reborn as we've all been taught to be ashamed of being into the parents at her grandparents' with almond taught to be ashamed we said to turn that around one of our our own talents and artistic forms of expression we've brought back
histories before in his case it takes a long time to do this where it's beautiful the colors are vibrant it reflects our culture and i don't think people realize what it takes to do this beautiful people when that the pottery and wonderful where you have this fantastic elder gross kerstetter who came home in his sound inspired people to be potter's again in about our palates people didn't know they had it was raucous kerstetter they are and one of things i guess making traditional party feet thick of it was about three thousand years to co star to make money and
we used poetry for storage and unforgiving produces cooking purposes when we stop making pottery when europeans came over and have created art that book cooking pots to have built along for free for its thick lake and we took the techniques from taking a good cry you can make a pact to at least not to saying well the fact that they're actually thinking and teaching it is my idea of helping to continue our tradition is we've got to use that he keep do think our traditions or looked into it
you know he was on my own there was a credit union and he had no knowledge of what voters or what it meant to be here for their awards ceremony where a long poles that fact you just you don't they neither was an indian an indian maybe less than everybody else and that so he grew up as what he was taught so he got to be a young man in a sturdy here in his words of his elders not telecom there you know neither the iroquois people initially assumed to be part of you know you have this gift oh i didn't a lot of thaw in relations though having one last swim to do whatever you can you know keep they're going to carry that on and to learn as much as you can and so he's kind of four his the rest of his life since we really we really taking up the heart he's he's done that consistently that's what this fall that have been and is gonna leave a lot of people listen
the truth and they are the center of every race and religion in a changing world they're difficult to hold onto where us the oneida tribe women played a substantial role within our time in their tribe has matriarchal which means power is based in a win she's so close now the grandmothers were sort of guardian to the reigning chiefs a guided them and advise them at the chase behavior was not satisfactory to the people someone had required to his guardian and the mother would investigate his case the grandmother is cooked for the chiefs when they held their counsel a second listen to the discussions that they were supposed to be silent
if a question of war with other tribes away sellers came up and the woman could favor of for or against a genocide that grandmother's favorite that just always agree we're calling me julio says it because you get to clan from your mother during the turtle bearer wall and are in our world and that comes from your mother and also seems like while others who seem like cheese it's a beautiful thing to say what is a cause and it's not necessarily a hereditary can be like why should people young people grow and they can they be a good chick who will be a good clam up there will be a good faith healer and they'll select them and they train at as they're growing they see those qualities of leadership
of people who will and so that kind of there are also has to you know what would you probably call it the horn because they're just always wear their headdress has so cut the horn in hollywood ca ching at three mornings so if they see that that she's not listening to the people who's not taking their voice to the meetings amara his behaviors out online she can give him three warnings and his behavior and he doesn't listen after the three warnings his hotel there one of the first big changes that happened to have people was with the fur trade women in a record or an amended the hunting and bringing in the meat for the meal
with a fur trade now the men were gone and they were bringing home to meet their off training for other items and that upset the balance of the economy then with christianity coming in time we came to wisconsin i saw big change where women were supposed to stay in the human well you feel he was the opposite of the way it was before in the fall of eighty ninety eight this simple carver who lived in new york city and to displace worked on it when the sisters talk on either women until nineteen oh nine but then they gave up because the sisters have too much church were to do so mccotter want the work to go on so the association from new york city sent this hemingway tonight
to find somebody to teach us to make lace having learned the lace work why i went to school i worked with her as she taught me how to make up and then she asked me to take the church in the fall of nineteen oh nine he sent her to another indian reservation to teach lace making so she put me in charge of the basement perhaps i used to have about sixty women i used to get out the word for them to sell the association used to furnish the supplies and making lace iowa sent the finished work every two weeks to the new york jets sometimes want to three hundred dollars worth of finished work in one standing though neither women meet lots of place they made of bags that they need lots of alternate ways i had charted the ways workers until nineteen twenty six an organization in new york city he gave up the work
oh my memory would rule wilson webster more know at the time and here's president it's very very rare for him grandmother became the late shipping association in oneida instead of austria or more skillful and they're really striking the ocean there are top workers clearly show but they've made who showed clinton competition in the parish and it went up the damage to belgium a jewish there in ohio is where one out one issue out of blue ribbons nomination taken
to go home where they're from most of them will remain when the most interesting things from the journal's that a woman can track your family's income and grew crops and corn and they made money other ways she made lakes and that lace was worth more than the crops was crucial to the family's income was seymour so and i just didn't have jobs and they didn't speak english tonight as he was walking on the road you're going to a sawmill the other
news far as business is bad well it's kind of hard to like you now sixteen queen's birthday it's la it means big
they would lose a big beer those days only a handful or night as knew how to speak english just enough english to get by today our oneida languages only spoken by a handful of all my elders and handful of oneida children education has provided this knowledge but it's also taken a language way about this time we got a new neighbor their white people were seven did and people who keep their sundays on saturday well i got acquainted with one trouble cannot talk english putting time and a little soy i could say if you were i had a little girl about my age i'd been about seven years old i used to play together just like brother and sister i knew a few words until i was able to talk with her
shoes to teach me we were playmates then people started school in the house so i went to the school to learn the abcs i used to think it was hard to remember the different letters of the city's schools are not be a boarding school now girls most of the children belong to the church i never joined richard to get my own sunday in the winter is to play this game called fox nbc and from there i went to the allied a boarding house promised many times for talking in language there we were taught to me that's one sweet
caramel co curator of girls are taught to cook i never forgot the first stage play we had i was chosen to be a king and a girl was chosen to be a queen how hard it was for me to memorize the universe had to say when the curtains on the stage where i just got my first record like we need to tell me what to say we were both dressed in slowly the crime's over to reverse nearly one month so i forgot my dream speech where you can see all the people who had the boarding schools that the whole philosophy was to kill the indian and save the man which meant to symbolize us and they're in their their terms of civilization which was to take everything about being indian out of us all
these attempts to assimilate us by this to this farther and farther away from home we are in the end of course and we went through those long periods of poverty also in and then into the public schools where of course and we were calm he hit dot kelley were savages and basically in at ninety with wounded knee that was the end of indians scott holler textbooks went eight eight languages she said that our children were able to talk and nine a one man dynasty days with the lord talk a child so it's for that reason that i'm pleased to hear that
language we've been working on the language for it since the seventies in our community we actually started our own school in nineteen seventy nine own elementary school and the children can receive their language classes every day that's k through eight then in nineteen ninety four we had in high school to that and for students to graduate from our high school they are required to have at least two years of language so that's been a good impact on the community however when the promise was that we were producing one speakers so nineteen ninety six once we had funding again the gaming the tribe invested enough but language revitalization program when it started we had eleven elders who are fluent speakers meaning that they learn to live as a first language and live fire training as incense and increased at the trainees dictate however aren't art elders now we're
down to only two who can come every day and their goal but the goal is that within twenty years would have one hundred certified language teachers the force attendance in boarding schools brought much change will learn to read and write in english when a great cost the smallpox epidemic also came with great cars no person in this country was immune smallpox was a disease and recorded with immigrants from your early on even the sixteen hundreds when the pilgrims landed there are hundreds of tribes in villages completely decimated and now extinct so in this case be oh
really here in that very courteous was the name of the man who came back from school he was a man of peace he started the grocery store in the city of deeper the white male club stores in the peer did not like this as he was taken literally someone should in this letter word in terms of smallpox so he got sick there was no cure for it and he gradually got worse worse until he died his casket was open for his friends to see him so small parts or is that too many people
when the church was let out at his funeral ritual were hauling a few days after that many people got sent every day someone else would die and so sometimes there were two funerals or to know that the story it's written by one of our elders many scholars both native and non native agree that the united states military not only discussed but implemented this attack against native people some historians believe it might have occurred then insist that if indian really was an isolated occurrence and not a conspiracy there some historians believe that the center of contamination it was an absolute fabrication the oneida believe it was done so that what our opposition that indians may have been perceived to give to call neil spoke to the military would be we can do in nineteen oh five there was
an epidemic and the oneida boarding school in there i know that the superintendent and the doctor who was on duty call for assistance of other medical help he'd had a number of students died and in fact there is a burial ground in the vicinity an ugly area where and norbert hill center is now which was previously the oneida boarding school colony ceo say the mood i t o in eighteen three four and now leaving from st louis there was a flagpole at ways to go up the missouri river and the rain regular trading trips and bringing some
passengers and though when it left the captain of the boat knew that there was an infected man with smallpox on the poll and he did not return to singers and take care of the problem immediately is data he decided to go on up to complete the entire misery but sandy haired man on horseback to let the indians know that there were there was a smallpox and the bowl and that they should not appear at the way and the indians in fact various tribes thousands of people thought that this was a trick and they were completely suspicious about it and so they all appeared at the landings and they were infected with smallpox and they died within days by the thousands
there were just no land to bury them in vero beach won't run the prairie you for a couple years and maybe more than a couple of years but certainly everywhere along the missouri it smallpox was devastating key allies and other us families the pain however it's out there there was more pain coming pain of losing their length the dawes act was passed a meeting at seven by congress aren't we didn't have any representatives in congress because we were not voting for it would not allow the vote we were not citizens of the united states so they actually is leading a horse without latino representation off and it weighs
tasked by congress so that each indian person could have is all the individual piece of land and so our neighbors really where nine leakers were allied in the household and forty five acres where allotted two people in eighteen years of age or older and i married and those under eighteen were getting twenty sixteen and it didn't matter if you were on a swamp or hill would firmly and it didn't matter if you've got a few still is within the boundaries i have to look at the matisse and then i enter one case for her newest devens for instance he had ninety with distributed in three different parcels week which were not close together so even if you had a good fire
it wouldn't be economical for him to travel miles to another piece of land that he also won't so i believe that those parcels are distributed to waive the work i deliberately so that it would be easier for people to be alienated from it you could say we didn't have to two thousand dollars for inducing an urging the all nighters to become taxpayers he got all of the people together at the parish hall for a meeting he talked a lot to explain that so many white people were
coming in tornado but that being taxed so he thought it best to establish the town where all of the people would pay taxes or the older men disagreed with them around the piano and two hundred dollars each to work on his side so a few days after this he called another meeting all of them were against him were now i'm a spy so the majority of the people who voted on his side and so the township was established and they called at the time of hobart the oneida started to pay taxes above five years after this summit the eyes got behind on their taxes and some began to lose what they
head because there were not accustomed to paying taxes it is oh and so anything comes out it's always in the last twenty nine years this man who worked on establishing the town of old when he was when he was hired by the way to bring this about where the images the allotment are provided that after everything is a lot of what is left over is declared surplus and falls to the united states we have no extra landed her case via a soup country and the other tribes that
does a lot of there was a slightly less giddy have service land so immediately one hundred million acres reverted like i have to say just give up to the united states of america because in the united states you know in the first place so it's just given to the united states to one hundred million acres fell to the united states immediately upon application of the bass line and pulverize patients eventually almost all the land was eighteen so that was between nineteen eleven nineteen twenty nine when one of the great depression because that's kind of why they're there were far more non indian people on the reservation then that were indians so what i did is the farmers voted in their own people and neo nazis were left without anything to say in that is the case today
was in that's wayne nineteen ten was great is a tone on in that recently became a village in two thousand and two the special legislation that was named after a bishop hobart who will help the oneida nation indians moved from new york state to wisconsin and they sell to an area that was originally our nominee and in nigeria the total hobart is lies entirely within the original boundaries of the oneida nation reservation and makes a very interesting working relationship and it's also rewarding because of the rich culture i think the oneida nation has similar standards and values as far as a prisoner in the wildlife and the open spaces i see our businesses commercial businesses to helping along some highway corridors i see a predominant residential arrest of art and we're also concerned about preservation of
farmland we on the oneida nation are are continually at odds with the townships the guys we have different purposes oneida would like to have require our fifty one percent of the land buying a twenty year twenty twenty within the reservation boundaries and got to provide homes and services for their membership as swayze intent in the first place a meeting unless the tribe purchases very rapidly the existing homes they will not ever having political control in the in the foreseeable future a life five the existing homes and
long time ago gordon bolar political logic and my grandpa actually would call sometimes they come back and they didn't understand taxes so as my grandfather and my grandfather's grandfather came back and my grandfather's father albert ann thomas they turned around and saw that dish out again sheriff and his deputies on our speck work x court and those people out of the house like rapper didn't understand and it was at home and as my as his dad rapport asking questions they turned around and said you have to move out because you didn't pay your taxes so then my grandpa always on packing in my current the scrabble is trying to argue and say well here's your money in and pretty soon the the wagons full so it was raining pretty hard and there were only locks on the roads and that
was pretty mondays so the sheriff and the deputy said to have been won or loitering and when grandpa looked up and he noticed that his father and his grandfather bought upset never cry and he couldn't shake the remains of a horse to those reins in chicago all in resisting that water dripping off his hat on comes hansen host
when we talk about whether culture and how important it was to work people the loss of milan the trees both legal and illegal was devastating to our people and we talk to reclaim the low slanted always found land claims and the land claims are still unsolved eaten to be a dispute over the land in your think it goes back to our identity is who has a lot of people puzzling out of people and they will deal to our which we refer to ourselves as people a standstill that name is not the firm to the geography other region on interstate really going on prom and soul i guess when you look at it you look at the overall picture here we moved to wisconsin that's all we never gave up our our fight for land nor by science settlement
agreement ms earls we were going ahead and telling palestinian our other communities out there is that that land no longer means he's what you sent us it's very sixties soul muna buyers are people to reclaim lands that were taken legally was in the north when this is this whole the sole cause of the losing their land isn't just so my problem here where paulson didn't follow dan collison nations have in this place for lance we took we had the foresight to go ahead and take this to court successfully we won a court case in nineteen eighty five the supreme court level after that ongoing
negotiations with the stay in your parents brought us to this point where it's really nothing settlers has been a lot of talk about what what kind of dealers along the happiest day and now and the three committees are nervous with the land you have to get a look at basically is we've always looked at census says the creation is it was those our duty to take their land and take care of it he thinks that land to sustain us lived in atlanta for generations francis is they were buried in that land and i'll only thing i've seen at the slang when those problems is to navigate a casino when i couldn't get their land we will leave for the separate our people it's here in wisconsin the different groups that want to see that the scene one assumes his land claim settled in and there's a group said
the one singing there was the man i don't wanna have territory again in new york state and to put all that aside for gaming operations whether it be ever be profitable or not isn't isn't much question is again i've been fully see ourselves as in the future we see ourselves as the gaming trial and we see ourselves as an the heart of the losing land was unbearable for many on itunes for many years on it is live with high unemployment alcoholism and poverty life again was hard but oneida families had each other and good fortune was on its way
tony and so we've been very fortunate to have a meaty and it's up for the first time we have an economy that cannot in our community and all of that money goes back into our community and we provide services to as many of our sixteen thousand members as we can we have a wonderful on oneida health center was out of governmental priority to build a new house and pursue have that now and it is a beautiful place we have social services for our tribal members and in one of the aria things we did at the beginning when we start to have some money was to build a beautiful child care center and youth programs to a wide variety of other
activities that you can participate in because we know that if we invest in our children today that they will be our future leaders and we tell them that and so we invest in them the time and money that we have invested into the wpa journals is priceless if we had not participated in this project we would have a large segment of our history just absent i'm not available to us an old man was always shelling quite nice they used to keep a basket of corn buyers that just as soon as he got out he would start to show the wire it happened that it was on a sunday morning anyone into silkworms but his granddaughter told him that it was sunday this particular day and therefore not to do any work so the imam laid down he fell asleep again
for just a little while and when he awoke he started to sell that one again his granddaughter again stopped him so he went back to that when he won't hold his basket of course towards him his granddaughters action before their time finally the old man said there's a thin cuts of consulates in criticism that i just love and ads taking your ways with which and all i'm taking the new things and adapting them in and mixing them together and that's something i think a lot of people in the most magnificent ways still raise our white crime and we have this beautiful awe cannery but it keeps that ancient form of our the white corn alive and people purchase a white corn like for weddings and funerals birthdays and presents and gifts and that we still continue to keep
that light one which was a staple of our diet symptoms you go to the episcopal church and they sing hymns in the oneida language so in closing my history about all nighters i wish to thank those who were so kind to give us a chance to tell for ourselves the trust or indian history in the future i believe it's maybe one of the most important things we can do our people that makes seven generations coming up is to tell our story
because the signs of being the most assimilated and colonized what they've accomplished what they wanted to do to us is when we tell their version a war story so it's absolutely critical that we tell story and that that takes courage life in general compared to the time when i was a child growing up here is very good in terms of material things i think that we are lacking some of the culture of the time i was growing up for example people would help one another always if someone was sick and a family you would see all the neighbors and relatives and family they have lost that closeness altogether banned i think that's where the major things we should strive for the wpa story should we publish simple
one i believe that they should be published and segments probably according to copy and then distributed free to every tribal member every tribal member needs to understand where i came from it they need to be connected and this is one of the greatest connecting kind of things that we can do it's right there before us all we have to do is utilized hey i'm a lady i mean no you know i don't no mayo louis i'm dead in ohio right now we it only eight am a way i mean no you know you know hey you know no i knew
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The Oneida Speak
Producing Organization
Wisconsin Public Television
Native American Public Telecommunications
Contributing Organization
Vision Maker Media (Lincoln, Nebraska)
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/508-rn3028qb4f).
Program Description
The Oneida Speak blends traditional Oneida storytelling with modern media, providing a window to a world that no longer exists. In the 1930s, a group of elders from the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin participated in FDR's Works Progress Administration Writers Project and shared stories of their life on the farm. In numerous journals written in Oneida, the elders recall historical personal accounts of detrimental land-grabbing policies, and the devastating impact of small pox and boarding schools in this hour-long documentary. Nominated for two Emmys.
Broadcast Date
Asset type
Local Communities
Race and Ethnicity
Copyright 2006 Wisconsin Educational Communications Board and the Board of Regents of the UW System
Media type
Moving Image
Producer: Danforth, Michelle
Producing Organization: Wisconsin Public Television
Producing Organization: Native American Public Telecommunications
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Vision Maker Media
Identifier: 2013-00436 (VMM Inventory #)
Format: Betacam: SP
Generation: Dub
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Chicago: “The Oneida Speak,” 2002-00-00, Vision Maker Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 22, 2023,
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APA: The Oneida Speak. Boston, MA: Vision Maker Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from