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Interview with Evelyn George

George, Evelyn
Greer, Mendie and Calabrase, Antoinette
Date of Interview: 
Native Americans; American Indians; Catawba; pottery; traditional Native American crafts; Native American dances; regalia; herbal medicine
Mendie Greer and Antoinette Calabrase interview 81 year old Evelyn Brown George about her life on the Catawba Reservation in Rock Hill, South Carolina. George describes her skills as a potter and seamstress and her deep concern for keeping Native American culture alive. George also talks about her own family, traditional dances, natural medicines, and the struggles and frustrations of reservation life.
Rock Hill; South Carolina; 1914-1996
Interview Setting: 
Catawba Cultural Center, Catawba Reservation, Rock Hill, South Carolina
Native Carolinians and Indian Elders
MG: What are you going to show us? You brought your clay. Are you going to make something for us or show us how --
EG: Well, the first step is, we go to the clay hole down close to the river and dig our clay. And I like good clay, and we go real deep down in the ground, about four feet, which is deeper than I am. [laughs] And my son or my grandson, they'll go and dig my clay, and we'll bring it back home and take these five-gallon buckets and we'll put clay in the bucket and put water on it and soak it up. And after we get it soaked real good, well, then we strain it out and get all the little gravel and everything out of it. I should have brought some dry clay to show you what it looked like. But then we after we strain it out and we let the sun dry the water out of it, evaporate all the water out of it, and then it gets like this, and it's ready to for us to work in. But I was borned and raised down here on the reservation. My mother was Indian, my daddy was Indian, my grandparents from my daddy's side were Indian, my mother's parents from her side were Indian, and my great-grandma were Indian, so -- I can remember my great-grandmother. She died when I was five years old. And she used to take me fishing, and we'd go walk and go fishing. And then after she passed away, well, my granddaddy from my daddy's side, he had operated a flat across the river to put cars, because we didn't have no bridge across the river like the bridge down there next to Bowater's. Well, they operated a flat and took cars back and forth from one side to the other.
AC: What was your father's name?
EG: Early Brown.
AC: And your mother's?
EG: Edith -- she was Edith Harris and she married a Brown. And my great-grandma from my daddy's side was named Emily George, which is my children's great-great-grandma. And my grand-daddy, he was a George. But my daddy's parents was Browns, John Brown, Rachel Brown. But then after I got up maybe about seven years old, well, my mother made pottery all the time. And we didn't have teachers to come and teach us how to make pottery like they do now. I teach a class over here to the Catawba children and the adults. But back then, well, we didn't have teachers to teach us. It was built in the homes. Every day we could just see it every day My grandma and my mother and my aunts, they all made pottery, and so we didn't have to have a teacher. We just watched and then when we got old enough, maybe eight years old -- I think I was eight -- my mother didn't let me build pottery, but she wanted me to see, we have to take these and polish them down after we scrape them, and we smooth them down with a rock. And she would let me learn how to do that. Then when I got older, by ten or eleven, well, then I started to build little pieces, little, small pieces, and--
AC: And it's all hand-formed? You don't use a potter's wheel?
EG: Uh-huh.
AC: It's all hand-formed?
EG: Uh-huh. And then after I started having my -- got married and started having my family, well, I made pottery, but I quit for a while because I had to work. And so way back in the 30s, well, we went to New Philly, Ohio, and worked for a museum up in New Philly. And this man had us to sign our names on them, and which that was good, because the people years ago didn't put names on them. And we worked up there about four years. We'd come home on the week -- I meant on the end of the fall we'd come back, then we'd go back till next year, spring of the year. But--
AC: You made pottery at the museum?
EG: Uh-huh.
MG: And you put your name on it? Is that what you said?
EG: Uh-huh. We put our name on them now, but back back before then, well, we didn't. But we had to make pottery for the museum and they paid us for our pottery and sold it out of the museum.
AC: Do you remember the name of the museum?
EG: I believe it was ( ) or something like that, but they don't have one I don't think now. It was like a state park place and they had they built -- it was like they took this old school building and brought it down here and fixed it like this. Well, they built at that park they built back where the Indian people had used to live and had log cabins and had rock walks where you'd walk on and had a log church. It was nice, but --
MG: Did they make it where the Indians, for cultural or --
EG: Yeah.
MG: Yeah?
EG: Just for culture.
MG: Okay.
EG: And -- but that's where we stayed while we was up there. But after I come back home and I got me a job and went to work, well, I didn't make too much pottery.
AC: What kind of work did you do?
EG: I worked in Matthews, North Carolina, and I worked in a drapery -- made draperies and curtains and bedspreads. I worked -- I went to work up there in '51 and I worked up there until '81, and it changed names about three or four times while I was there. See, if you're going to make a big piece, well, you would take this and make it up, and then you'd roll out you a coil and put around here and you'd shape it up, but if -- you can make smaller pieces and you don't have to use coils.
MG: I know there's red clay too. Don't they have that here in North Carolina? Is it not as good?
EG: I don't like red clay.
AC: You had said earlier that you'd dug deep to get good clay,
EG: Yeah.
AC: What is good clay?
EG: Well, what I call good clay is blue -- blue clay. It's just blue. It's -- this is two kinds of clay together. We have a pipe clay and a pan clay, and the pan clay is real thin and smooth like corn meal, and the pipe clay is in big old lumps when it's -- when it's not worked up like this.
AC: And once you dig it and you soak it in the five-gallon bucket, how long does it generally take to get workable? That's a lot of work, isn't it?
EG: Yeah, a lot of work. Well, if you would -- now, in the cold weather, in the wintertime, well, you can't -- you have to get your clay fixed up and get it up and get it worked out for the winter. But if it's like this, well, you can string it out, set it out in the sun, and it'll take it maybe two weeks. You have to go back and keep stirring it, keep it stirred up.
MG: Well, when we were trying to get in touch with you -- what was it a week, two weeks that we tried to get in touch with you we heard that you're real busy. I mean, what all activities do you do? We tried at every hour of the day.
EG: Stay in the road. Well, I quilt and I embroidery, and I don't work away from home, but I'm not at home all the time.
MG: Vail was saying something about you teach dancing classes now?
EG: Yes, Uh-huh.
MG: What's that? For children or --
EG: Yeah, for the children. We have an adult class and a children's class and we already started practicing yesterday afternoon. We had to practice since we had a festival.
MG: And what is this, traditional Indian dances?
EG: Uh-huh. They do Dove, Hawk, fancy dance and traditional dance and just all kind of -- and Wild Goose dance. But we don't have any men to dance. They're too shy.
MG: That's our problem, too.
EG: I have two little grandsons that dances, and last year at the festival was the first time they ever danced. I was so afraid that Chad -- he's not but five, and I was afraid that he was going to see that big crowd and he'd go the other way, but he didn't. He done good.
MG: What are you making now?
EG: Well, I thought I'd make an ashtray.
MG: Do you color them when you're done or --
EG: Huh uh.
MG: No?
EG: No. When they get like this, well, then you have to trim it up and level it up and let it dry some more, and then you can smooth it down with the rock, and then it'll get right dry and right white looking. See, that's too wet to trim, because it's thick sticking out. And then after you polish them with the rock and let it dry some, well, you would heat them in -- heat them in the oven where you bake bread, because we don't use a kiln, and let them stay in the oven about six or seven hours. When you'd take them out, well, they take them outside and put them in a hole and put wood on them and burn them And the colors comes out of from the wood and the clay. We don't paint them. We don't do anything to them, after we polish them up with that rock and then heat them in the oven.
MG: What kind of oven? Not the --
EG: Electric oven that I bake my bread in.
MG: The same oven?
AC: And then you take them outside and you burn them in a hole?
EG: Uh-huh.
AC: It's just a hole in the ground? Is it lined with wood or charcoal or --
EG: Well, I have -- a lot of us will go ahead and put the fire out there and burn wood and get the coal in there, you know, the hot coal, before we take our pottery out there. But sometimes we don't do that. We just get our wood and put it in there and put paper or whatever we're going to put in there to get it started, then take our pottery out there and put it in there and get your fire to going on it and put your wood on, and then you go back when that burns down and put wood on it. But the second time -- you go back a third time. Well, that's the last time you put your wood on, and then after that burns down, well, you're ready to take them out, and you don't have to do anything to them except wash them off.
AC: What does burning them in the hole do that baking them in the oven doesn't do?
EG: Well, they got to be heated before you put them in the fire. If they're not heated they'll --
MG: Crack? Okay.
EG: -- explode and break all up, and which sometimes -- I burnt thirteen to fourteen pieces about three or four weeks ago and I had five pieces to pop, but that was because it had air holes in it.
AC: So the only reason you put them in the oven is to get them hot enough to put into the fire?
EG: Uh-huh. Yeah. Uh-huh.
AC: How hot do you keep the oven?
EG: Well, you start off real low, just, you know, like warm or whatever. Then you gradually turn it up and then finally you get it up to five hundred and let them stay in there and they -- they change color in there. They look real dark looking, and then they're so hot you can't pick them up. You have to take some kind of cloth or something and take them out. You take them out there and put them -- put the wood on it.
AC: How long do you leave them in the oven at five hundred degrees before you --
EG: Five or six hours.
AC: Five or six hours?
EG: Oh. After you get it up to five hundred?
AC: Uh-huh.
EG: Oh, you leave them in there maybe about an hour or two hours, because they've already been in there for so many hours before then.
MG: So then you take them out and burn them -- I mean you take -- like you said, you had thirteen pieces. You burn them all at once or--
EG: Put them all in there together, and you'd be surprised. Some of them come out looking red and some of them will look black with gray spots on them, and they're all burned in the same fire.
AC: Do you use any particular type of wood in the fire?
EG: Yeah. Hardwood. Oak. But I was born and raised here on the reservation, and back then when I was old enough to go to school we had a little -- I didn't go to school in this building. This building was built I don't know what year it was built now, but anyway, we had a little school building right up the road and I went to school there, and it was just went to the seventh grade. And when we finished the seventh grade, well, they wouldn't let us go outside schools. Our -- it wasn't our people that wouldn't let us go. It was the outside people wouldn't let us go out with the white children. And then when they did let -- let them go, well, they wouldn't let them ride the bus. So back in the 40s, '46 or somewheres in there, well, they started letting them ride the bus. And Mildred Blue I think was the first one rode the bus.
AC: And so the children started going --
EG: So I didn't get an education except to seventh grade.
AC: What about your brothers and sisters?
EG: I don't have but one sister, and she lives out in New Mexico. She's been out there since -- I guess she was nineteen, I reckon, when she went out there.
MG: Is she younger or older than you?
EG: No, she's younger than I am. But my brother -- I had three brothers, and two of them's already dead. My oldest brother, he's been dead a good while, and then I had another brother die -- to die, and then I got -- the onliest brother that I have living now, well, he's handicapped. He's in a wheelchair, but he's the youngest. He's younger than I am. He's 73.
MG: Does he live here on the reservation as well?
EG: Huh?
MG: Does he live here on the reservation, too?
EG: Uh-huh. Yeah.
MG: I bet you've seen a lot of change living here so many years.
EG: Yeah.
MG: What's the biggest change, do you think, that you've saw while you're living here?
EG: Well, the biggest change just come about, where they're getting all this health care for the reservation and paying the doctor bills and building new houses. They -- they're building me a new house and they started in January. They're so slow. I said I guess I'll get in there for Christmas. [laughs] And this is the fourth one they've built, but they didn't build all them this year. They built three last year and they started on the one they're building for me.
AC: And who's building the houses?
EG: The men here on the reservation, Catawba Indian men.
MG: Is it still going to be close to where you live now?
EG: Uh-huh. Yeah.
MG: What's going to happen to your old house?
EG: Old house? They're going to bring it over here and I don't know what they say they're going to do now. They'll use that for something. It's an old house. It's the oldest house here on the reservation. My mother lived in it well, she was living there when she passed away and she had been living there a good while, and two of my brothers had lived there at one time. But when I was going to school, well, my mother had a log house and we lived in a log house.
MG: Vail was telling us that the reservation used to be a lot bigger.
EG: Huh? Yeah.
MG: The reservation used to be a lot bigger.
EG: Yeah. Years and -- when I was living over there years back, well, we owned all the land plum up into Virginia, all the way back down to Charleston.
AC: You didn't like that one, huh?
EG: Well, I'm just demonstrating. I -- I can always hear these little children when I go out to schools and demonstrate. Last year I went over to Fort Mill, and they wanted me to come demonstrate over there for three mornings. So I went over there. And when you demonstrate, well, you're just taking up clay, you know, for working and you build a piece and tear it down and build something else. I built a piece and all those little children was like, "ooh, you didn't like that?" [laughs]
AC: Do you know whether or not -- there's no way to tell whether you're getting all your bubbles out of that, is there?
EG: Do what?
AC: There's no way to know whether you're getting all the air bubbles out of there?
EG: No, unlessen I just -- well, I'm not going to keep it anyway, but I would beat it up real good in my hand, you know --
AC: Uh-huh.
EG: -- and try to get all the bubbles out, but you don't ever get it all out.
MG: So you're lucky when they come out? Not lucky, but unlucky when they pop?
EG: Yeah. One of my sons took the ones that popped when I burnt the last time and glued them back together.
MG: Do your sons know how to make pottery?
EG: No. One of my sons, he can make a few pieces. I have five sons.
AC: How many daughters?
EG: I've got five sons. That's -- was my baby girl that was in here and she works for the chief. She answers the telephone and takes his calls. But I got two other daughters. I got three girls.
AC: Eight children. Wow.
EG: And Joanne, that's she's older than Susan, and she works for the health care program right down the road there. And Faye, she's the oldest girl, and she can make pottery. She works over here in the mornings and she can make pottery, and she makes the -- she teaches basket weaving over here. She makes baskets.
AC: And what about your boys? What do they do?
EG: They don't try to make pottery. Well, Phillip did awhile, but he works up in North Carolina.
MG: What are you making now?
EG: A turtle.
MG: That's what I thought. I love turtles. Can you make frogs?
EG: Yeah, but I don't like to. I don't like to make frogs and I don't like to make peace pipes. Peace pipe is a traditional piece. I have to make them, but --
AC: Why don't you like to make them?
EG: I just don't like to make them and have to finish them up. They got too much work to them.
MG: Too much detail or--?
EG: They got four stems on them. They got a stem over here and one over here and one there and one over here. And then they --
AC: I don't think I've ever seen one.
EG: And then they got legs. There's some over there on one of them pictures. Over here, the second.
AC: Oh.
MG: Okay.
EG: They got three legs on them.
AC: And that's the traditional one, huh?
EG: Uh-huh. And the Rebecca pitcher and the medicine pot and the canoe.
AC: Those are traditional pieces that --
EG: Uh-huh.
AC: -- go way back?
EG: Yeah. See, the medicine pot is what they used and made their medicine, because they -- they made their own medicine back then.
MG: So what do you think about this idea of getting bingo on the reservation?
EG: Well, I don't know. I don't think they'll get it on the reservation. They'll have to buy some land and put it on.
MG: Do you think it'll bring in more profit?
EG: I hope it would. I had to go to Charlotte and get my eye operated on, had surgery, and I was supposed to start a class and I hadn't got to do it yet, and I was supposed to come over for the practice dancing last night. I didn't do that either. I don't know. My eye is not better yet. They say when you get old, well, you start falling apart. [laughs]
AC: You seem to be pretty much together.
EG: I can tell a difference though since my birthday. I guess it's just because my age, I reckon, and it just sounds -- sounds old.
AC: Your age sounds old? You don't feel any older, do you?
EG: Well, sometimes I do.
AC: You wouldn't believe what that would look like if I tried to make it.
EG: You don't think you could make one?
AC: Probably not. I'm not very artistic.
MG: I'm not either. My cousin, could probably make a good stab at it, but I just didn't get gifted in that way.
MG: Do you think in the last couple of years there's been a much bigger interest in the traditional lives of the Indians as far as bringing back old traditions and --
EG: Yeah, I think so. [pause]
AC: So what would some of those best things be?
EG: What? You mean the price, or what?
AC: What are some of the traditions that you would really like to see--?
EG: Remain?
AC: Yeah.
EG: Uh, the gypsy pot, that's the, they call it the medicine bowl, and we call it the gypsy pot. And uh, the Rebekah pitcher.
AC: What were they used for?
EG: Well uh, the medicine bowl was used to cook in. They cook they medicine in, and they cook they food in 'em.
MG: Was anybody, did everybody make their own medicine, or did certain, certain people--?
EG: Everybody, well most of the older people would make it. They don't do it now. That's back when my grandma and my great-grandma was living.
MG: What kinds of medicine did they make?
EG: Well, they made, uh, salve to put on you sores, if you had a sore, and they'd make -- if a child had a real bad cold, they'd make some kinda poultice and put on 'em up here and rub 'em with it. 'Cause I know my grandma used to do my little boy like that, my first child. And then they'd, uh, have a medicine that my mother used to use, and my aunt, for the headache.
MG: Do you think you could still find the herb, herbs for that?
EG: Uh, some of it.
MG: Yeah.
EG: My son, one of my sons, he's, uh, gettin' in to all that medicine stuff. [working on clay in the background] Of course he talks to Earl Carter. Do you know Earl Carter?
MG: Isn't that who Eva was trying to interview? No, that was Chief Richards.
EG: He knows Earl Carter. [indicating Vail Carter, who is filming the interview]
AC: Well, you say you're getting old here, so you've seen a lot in your lifetime, right?
EG: Yeah.
AC: Yeah? You were born in 1914?
EG: Uh-huh.
AC: So you probably don't know much, or remember much about World War I? But then you've seen World War II and Korea and Vietnam and all those other things.
EG: [chuckle] Well, Vietnam. I have children, sons, that be over there when they were fighting. I had my youngest son, which is Wayne George, Chad's daddy -- he was over there, and Philip, that's my other son. They both were over there when they were fighting and Wayne was just seventeen years old.
AC: Wow!
EG: But he volunteered to go in the Marines, and that's where he was at.
AC: So all your children are back here now, they're all on the reservation, none of them have moved off the reservation, and they don't intend to?
EG: Yes, my oldest daughter, Faye, she moved to Michigan way back when she was a young girl. And uh, she stayed up there until -- she had one child when she moved, her and her husband, moved up there, and uh, she moved back here in '91. She stayed up there ail that time. Well, I mean, she would come home, and she's got four children. She got one daughter and the others is boys, but her daughter still lives in Michigan.
MG: She moved here to the reservation?
EG: Huh?
MG: She moved here to the reservation?
EG: Yeah.
MG: You like having all your children around you?
EG: Yeah, but they don't. They be all at work, so I'll be at home, except my son that, they just moved here from North Carolina. They been up there in Sanford, North Carolina about thirteen years. They moved back and they got a big mobile home behind me. So they right in my back yard. And Chad, he's five years old, and he's always into something.
MG: That's your grandson?
EG: Uh-hmm.
MG: So your grandchildren should be, I don't know, there's a difference from, when your children were born and when they're born. Um, maybe when your children born there wasn't such an interest on the traditional life, or maybe --
EG: That's right.
MG: -- and then now, your grandchildren are getting more --
EG: Because it's all coming back.
MG: Right.
EG: Just like the pottery. See, when my mother made the pottery, well, they made it for a livin'. They had to do it to survive then. And uh, to keep food on the table, and uh, back then they couldn't, uh, they didn't get anything for the pottery, just take a piece out there, maybe about that size [indicating a vase she has brought with her to show us~an unfired vase approximately six inches high with a base circumference of about three inches] and get fifteen cent for it. And uh, trade it or drop it off and get what they could get out of it. And then it all 'bout died out, all the pottery. But then we got, I believe we got fort-some potters now, countin' the new ones that's took classes. Uh, Susan, she took the classes, and she can make nice pottery. And uh, Joanne, but I didn't take classes. I just learnt on my own watchin' my mother and my grandmothers. But uh, it's all comin' back now, and all the children is tryin' ta, you know, get in to it.
MG: Right.
EG: But uh, when I was a chile, well, they didn't go out and do these, uh, dances. Except Chief, Gilbert Blue's grand daddy, which is my great-uncle. So we all kin. [giggles] Chief, uh, Old Chief Blue, uh, he'd go to schools and put on a little program for them. That's where I learned to dance, from Old Chief Blue. I went out with him a lot of times.
AC: And are they traditional dances?
EG: Yes.
MG: Do you think anything has been lost or forgotten?
EG: Yeah, the language got gone. See, we didn't try to learn it, and nobody can speak it.
MG: Nobody, I mean --
EG: Not here. Uh, Old Chief Blue used to, well, my aunt, his sister, they could talk it amongst themselves, but nobody else wanted to learn it.
MG: Well, is there anything else that was lost, do you think, besides the language?
EG: I don't think --
MG: I'm sure there was many things along the way.
EG: Hmmm.
MG: What is that, a duck or swan? [indicating pottery]
EG: It's a duck.
AC: Where do you sell your pottery?
EG: Out of my home. And over here, they got a shop in there.
AC: Oh, do they?
EG: They sell beadwork and pottery and books and all kinds of things in there. My daughter- in-law makes all the beadwork. She made this necklace.
MG: Where does she find the materials?
EG: Well, I bought this back from out in New Mexico when I went out there last year, the beads and things.
MG: And then for herself, where does she find the materials?
EG: Well, she goes up to Tandy's in Charlotte and then, too, she orders a lot of stuff.
MG: She must be a very creative--
EG: She is, the whole family, the two girls and two boys -- the oldest girl is fifteen, and, uh, the other one is thirteen, and uh, the little boys, one is ten and the little one is five. And they all do beadwork. The little boy makes bracelets and little beaded rings to wear on your fingers, and my son, he can make the chokers that you wear around your neck. And then their sons' regalia that they wear dancin'.
MG: Do you guys wear, um, costumes, or um, anything, you know, traditional clothes, or do you just--
EG: When we dance?
MG: Right, or even -- yeah. In a ceremony, I mean not to dance here or anything but --
EG: We wear our regalia when we dance, and when we go out to put on a dance, or something like that. When like, the teacher wanted, uh, Chad to come out and dance, and bring his clothes out there so he could dance for them out at the school, and she told him, she say, "Bring your costume so you can dance for us and show the class." He said, "I don't have no costume, a costume is for a clown." [all laugh] He said, "And I'm not no clown. It's regalia." And he said that teacher got mad at him. She say, "Well, whatever you want to call it." He come home telling' me.
MG: That's pretty smart, and he was five?
EG: Uh-hmm.
MG: Wow.
EG: He'll be six in August.
MG: So does everybody have regalia?
EG: The ones that dance, yea.
MG: Is there a lot of people who don't dance?
EG: There are a lot of people that don't. They don't wanna dance.
MG: Do you think that the new generation, you know, like your grandson, Chad, and all the, you know, kids born in this time period, that it's really gonna turn things around?
EG: I hope so. I believe so.
AC: What do you hope that they do?
EG: [chuckles] Well, I hope they keep the pottery going so it won't get gone from 'em. And they keep up their dances.
MG: Is there anything that particularly, if it were lost now, that it would be, you know, real terrible, besides the pottery and the dancing, that you know, is remarkable of your culture, that if they cease to, you know, if they forgot it or ceased to practice it, is there anything else besides that?
EG: No. I don't think so.
MG: Do you think that, uh, your culture is more, urn, like Vail was saying on the way in, he said that the Indians are, they belong more to the family or community, do you think that's just so for the Indians? I know that in our society, white society, we don't keep much, you know, as a community anymore. It's really broken up a lot. Do you think being on the reservation or -- do you understand what I'm saying? Stay more together?
EG: Well, for the most of them. They would, but we got some here now that-- [tape stops] They don't want nothing to come in and be built. They're against all that. They don't want us to have anything. They, uh, I don't know what you call 'em.
MG: They don't want any change?
EG: No, they don't want it changed, but still, they want to be overpowering. They want to have all the power. And be over the chief, and the committees, they just don't get along with the chief and committees. They don't get along with the help that the chief has down here in his office. There's maybe two or three families that's like that, and their children and their grandchildren.
MG: So they want it to stay like they've always known it? And not have these traditions come back. They want it to be, you know, more or less quiet
EG: They want everything left like it was back when they was children.
MG: What's that, like fifty years ago, thirty years ago?
AC: What do you think of that? Do you think that progress is good, or not?
EG: Well, I don't think too much about it what they're doing. They try to get what they want, and they don't want us to have the health care down here, and they always arguin' 'bout what's goin' on, and like, I guess it's just like it is anywheres else, at any other reservation. But this just started since we started the settlement. And they don't want us to have anything down here. And they, uh, some of them, uh, don't even live on the reservation. We got a bunch of people don't live on the reservation. We got people in Gastonia, and Gaffney, and up in Spartanburg, Columbia, and all around, but we got some close in, on the outer edge of the reservation because they got their own land that they bought up back in the 60's. And they got that. Some of 'em got it when their husband was the chief. And they bought the land and didn't let the tribe know that it was for sale, and they bought it themselves. So, they got land on the outside. And got big homes on it, but yet they don't want us, the people down here to have nothing. They don't want us to have no homes built. They don't even want to come down here. They say they wouldn't come down here to this building, but if we have a committee meeting, they'll come, but they'll come and start trouble. That's what they come for.
AC: Sounds pretty much like the outside then, you're right. [laughs] Politics is politics.
MG: Is there anything in your life that you're really proud of, besides your pottery? I know you're proud of your pottery.
EG: I'm proud of my Indian blood.
MG: Yeah.
EG: Yeah, I'm proud to be an Indian.
AC: Is there any way you can tell me what that means to you?
EG: What it means to me?
AC: Yeah! That's a hard one, I know.
EG: It is. It means a whole lot to me. My mother and all my people were Indians. So, I'm proud of it.
MG: Does it mean a lot to you because your culture has been through so much change, or, you know, repression, and--
EG: Yeah, and we had a hard time to get where we at now.
MG: Yeah, is that why it's so important to you?
EG: Yeah, yeah.
AC: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?
EG: I don't think so.
AC: No, you don't think so. I was just wondering what you would like people e that don't know that this is here, what you would like them to know about it.
EG: Well, they welcome to come and find out.
AC: Well, that's good to know, I just moved to North Carolina, and I didn't know this was here at all. I don't think I would have found it by myself, that's for sure.
MG: No, I don't think so. I lived here three years and didn't know until I took this class that there was even a reservation here. You're not very advertised. [laughs] I think that's probably a good thing.
EG: Well, we have a festival every fall of the year in November. The Saturday after Thanksgiving.
AC: And what is that to celebrate?
EG: What about to celebrate? Well, we just have a get-together and have our festival, and uh, have a good time, and ask, well, they send, put something in the paper about it, telling people they welcome to come, and have a good time enjoying us, and we'll have a good time with them. And they have the Indian foods...
AC: So the festival is open to the public?
EG: Uh-huh.
AC: Oh, I wasn't aware of that.
MG: Do you do your dancing there, too?
EG: Yes, right out here in the front.
AC: How many people generally come to the festival?
EG: Oh, I don't know, plenty of them. For the last two festivals, we had rain, and it was cold, but we had a crowd of people. The first festival we had, I think we had about five hundred.
AC: And when was that, the first festival?
EG: Must've been five years ago.
AC: So they've only been going on for five years?
EG: Uh-hmm.
MG: Do you have a Native or Indian band for your dancing?
EG: No, we don't have one. We have Reggie and him to play the drums.
MG: Do you sell a lot of pottery?
EG: Yeah, a lot more.
MG: How much would a piece like this cost?
EG: Well, if it was good, it would cost about forty dollars.
MG: Are there any colors that are more preferred, after they come out, when they're done?
EG: Well, a lot of people like gray, other people like red, I don't like the red.
MG: I know you don't like the red clay.
EG: Well, you don't have to use red clay for your pots to come out red, I don't know why. I had, out of those pieces that I burnt last, I had one pot come out red, a little medicine pot that had panels on it and three legs. Buck George bought that.
MG: What color of red are you talking about, like the red clay?
EG: Yeah, like, I call it the red dirt.
MG: What's wrong with that clay, you just don't like the color, or it's not good clay?
EG: It's not good to me, I don't like to work in it. I'd rather, well, as far as I can remember, when I was real small, I went with my grandma and my grand-daddy, and my daddy went and dug clay for my grandma, and they went right for this clay. And back before they made our settlement, I don't guess you know, but the man that owned the land, he stopped us from gettin' the clay.
MG: Yeah, I heard about that. I must've read it in the paper or something.
EG: Yeah. He stopped us from gettin' clay, but you know, he died.
MG: No, I didn't know that.
EG: Yeah, he had cancer. He died. So, uh, we weren't gettin' no good clay, but we was gettin' clay over there for years and years, back before my grandma and, I guess, my great-grandma, got clay there too.
MG: Now are you allowed to go back and get it then?
EG: Yes, that old man's daughter, let us.
MG: Is there any, does it ever run out? I don't know about clay, does it keep reproducing, or what? Can you always go find it?
AC: It must be a pretty big hole by now.
EG: You fill it back in.
MG: Do you go to the same spot?
EG: Some. Most of the time, but they some of that red clay over there. That time I said, it was so hot, I said, "Get me some of that red clay over there."
MG: Well, I never saw red clay before, just the red dirt. And when I moved here, they said, "Oh, that's red clay," so -- what kind is this called, anyway?
EG: It's blue clay.
MG: Oh, okay.
EG: Some call it blue clay. I call it pot clay. It's real stiff if you don't put the other clay in with it. And you can't build anything out of it, except tiny pieces, like I built that duck. But now, if you mix it, well, then you can build real big pieces, tall pieces like that.
MG: Do you make big pieces very often?
EG: When I take a notion to do it. I haven't made any pottery since before the festival. I started Friday, made me a few pieces.
MG: How long does it take you to make one piece?
EG: Well, it don't take me long to make it, but it's all that finishing up. Now, I made this little pot and put it up and let it dry a little bit, it's gotta dry or it won't squeeze, or mash up. Then I made this part, and add it on, and then this.
MG: So it's three separate pieces?
EG: Yes.
AC: Well, thank you for your time.
EG: Well, you're welcome.
MG: We're glad to track you down. We thought we were gonna finish out the semester without being able to interview anybody.