May 9, 2018
Hi to all reading this blog! It is a little over a month since I last wrote to you. Time flies and waits for no one or nothing! Three weeks ago there was a blizzard here in Wisconsin. Today, there is green grass growing, tulips and other flowers blooming and leaves are growing on the trees! Here’s a beautiful photo of Gladiola flowers Sophia Huff used to grow by herself. This was her favorite flower.
Well, the weather may be changing but what hasn’t changed is my book, Sky Woman Lives in Me. It is still available at 25% discount through Lulu Publishing. Here is a photo what the cover of my book looks like and a brief summary. I discounted my book because I didn’t write it for the money. I wrote it to share my grandmothers’ stories, since they are deceased and cannot. I have learned that I supposedly receive a $1 from Amazon for each of my books that Amazon sells. Amazon doesn’t discount my book 25%. I do through Lulu Publishing. To me, my story is priceless because it is history you weren’t taught in school! It shares with readers the true history of my Great Grandmother, Sophia Huff, of the Oneida Indigenous Tribe, and her relatives as they faced forced assimilation into the Euro-white culture by our U.S. Government in the 18 and 1900’s. I will share this story the rest of my life. My Oneida relatives were considered savages and needed to be assimilated Euro-white, forget their Oneida language and culture, and everything that was Indian in them. Assimilation was just a cheaper way, (instead of the Cavalry shooting Indians in war), for the government to solve what the government called ‘The Indian Problem’. Hum…what was the ‘Indian Problem’? The government really wanted the Indian’s lands and other resources. It is all about the land and still is today in the year 2018! My Great-great Grandmother, Elizabeth Hill- Huff-Denny’s parents (Antone and Esther) were forced, as children, to leave the State of New York to settle in Wisconsin. The New York Oneida Lands were given to white settlers to resettle on! Esther and Antone were relocated to the Oneida Reservation here in Wisconsin. Treaties were signed in 1821 and 1822 that specified an Oneida Reservation of millions of acres. However, these treaties were broken and the Oneida Reservation acreage dwindled to 65,400 acres. The government wants to take sacred land away from some parks in this country in this year 2018. Things haven’t changed!
Growing up in Wisconsin I wondered why reservations were established in the first place. Born and raised in Milwaukee and Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin I knew nothing of my Oneida background, much less reservations. I have learned that the reservation system was established as a way to offer some small consolation for all the land the government took from indigenous tribes.However, each time a valuable resource is found on land promised to indigenous tribes, a treaty is broken… ignored. Today, this is still happening. Though water is life to all of us, the government feels oil pipelines in Standing Rock South Dakota are much more important. Sure, right!? We can all live on oil and money! We don’t need water! Now, pipelines at Standing Rock and other places are leaking oil. It is 2018. But, things really haven’t changed for indigenous tribes in this country. See photo below.
I remember as a college student in the 70’s attending a symposium on Intercultural Communications. The room where this symposium was held was full of people. The speaker was talking about the various cultures in this world and how communication is so important for all of us, no matter what race, nationality, religion, etc. All of a sudden this older man stands up and says loudly that American Indians fought among themselves, spoke many Indian languages and couldn’t understand each other because of their language differences and savageness. He then said that Indians don’t exist today. Wow! I was floored and didn’t know what to say or do. Here I am in my 20’s, and ashamed to stand up and say, ” I am Indigenous and exist”, sat and said nothing. At that time I was very prejudice of my Oneida self and ashamed to be Native American Indian. I talk about this in my book. Now, I wish I could take my wisdom I have today, back in time to that 70’s symposium and tell the man how wrong he was and still is. It is 2018 and people think Native American Indians don’t exist…or don’t count because there are so few of us left. Some have no clue what an indigenous person looks like! As I mention in my book, if Richard Henry Pratt, (The first supervisor of the Carlisle Indian Industrial Boarding School), were still alive I would tell him he hasn’t killed the Indian in me. Since I am still here, I share this story with all of you until the Creator takes me away to Heaven! Thank you for reading my blog. Please feel free to share this if you wish. Sincerely, Roberta Capasso, a proud member of the Oneida Indigenous Tribe of Wisconsin
April 5, 2018
Hello to everyone reading this blog. It has been over a month since I last wrote something for you. As usual, my book, Sky Woman Lives in Me, is available for purchase at 25% discount on Lulu.com. You can also purchase my book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. if you want to pay more money to read it.
Sorry this blog is so late. I have been out of town for baby showers, birthday parties, weddings, funerals…events that are part of our Circle of Life here on Earth. I hope all had a wonderful Easter. My first photo honors Martin Luther King. Yesterday, April 4th, we celebrated this courageous man, who tried to get peace,rights and equality to everyone. I sincerely thank, Brings Plenty Band, for posting this photo of Martin Luther King on Facebook.
In my book I share what happened to my Oneida relatives that has left a lasting effect today, not only my indigenous Oneida Tribe, but all Indigenous tribes here in the United States. Before the 1990’s, Native Americans were not considered citizens! My Grandma Millie and Great Grandmother Sophia Huff-Powless weren’t allowed to leave their reservations until 1924, after the Indian Citizen Act was signed. Not only were we indigenous people considered savage and inhuman, we weren’t allowed to vote in all 50 states until 1965, when the Voting Rights Act was passed. Now, here it is April 5th 2018, and politicians are still trying to mess up voting with gerrymandering, and requiring all sorts of certain ID’s just to vote! We even have polling stations that have broken machines! When Great Grandmother Sophia finally was allowed to vote, she was 48 years old! Though this is the year 2018, things really haven’t changed much for indigenous people, nor minorities and others here in our country.
On the positive side, the glass half full…we as Native Americans are able to practice our indigenous languages once again. This came about as a result of the 1990 Native American Languages Act. When Sophia was a child, she and her relatives were encouraged to speak only English. At the Carlisle Indian Industrial Boarding School where Sophia was sent to be assimilated ‘Euro-white’, she was given lye soap to chew on because she was caught speaking Oneida. She had other punishments as a result of speaking her native Oneida tongue, but you will find that in my book! A second photo is of Sophia in her Carlisle uniform in 1891.
The third photo is my Great Aunt Lily Huff. It’s interesting how my great great grandmother, Elizabeth Hill-Huff-Denny was told by the government and Carlisle that her daughters, Lily and Sophia, were to be at Carlisle for two-three years to learn English and become educated to better themselves in this world. Well, Lily was only at Carlisle Indian Industrial Boarding School for three days! She was sent out to the countryside in New Jersey to become a servant for a white family. She never went back to Carlisle; her family never knew she was not attending Carlisle; they never knew she was a servant out in the countryside sending part of her earnings back to Carlisle! And, our government was paying money to Carlisle for educating Lily! What a racket!
The fourth photo is my great Grandfather, Theodore Hyson Powless when he was a young man attending the Hampton Institute in Virginia. He and his siblings were forced to attend Hampton, another boarding school to assimilate Native American Indians to become Euro-white. He also worked out of school as a farmhand or servant and never graduated from Hampton. He was learning a trade of printing at Houghton-Mifflin Riverside Press for five years. He left Hampton, with their permission (can you imagine that!) and headed back to Wisconsin to find work as a printer. Naturally the Oneida Reservation had little or no work for anyone. But, sad to say, Hyson couldn’t get hired off the reservation because he was an Oneida Indian. Now, if Hyson was non-Indian, his experience at Houghton-Mifflin Riverside Press would have landed him a job immediately! Sad that his indigenous Oneida Race played into Hyson not getting hired off the reservation!
Well, like I mentioned earlier in this blog, this is the year 2018! Sadly, Racism is alive and well. We are all human beings, no matter what color, race, creed! We are all children of God, Our Creator! Guess what…we all bleed red!
My last photos show the cover of my book: Sky Woman Lives in Me, me holding a picture of the book’s cover at Indian Summer Festival in Milwaukee, WI and it’s summary. Thank you for reading my blog. Please share this if you wish. Sincerely, Roberta Capasso, a proud member of the Oneida Indigenous Tribe of Wisconsin.
Dear Family and Friends, Hello to all reading this blog. My husband and I are back in Wisconsin following two weeks out East to visit relatives and friends. We paid our respects to Barbara Smith’s gravesite. Barbara passed this past November, 2017 at the age of 99. She helped me with research on my book, Sky Woman Lives Me. I left a replica of a turtle for her gravesite. The turtle represents my Oneida Turtle Clan. I wanted Barbara to know she helped me so much, she too, is always in my heart, as part of the Oneida Turtle Clan. After visiting her gravesite we went to lunch at a local Olive Garden restaurant with Barbara’s sons, Geoff and Wayne and daughter in law, Helena. Ironically, the Olive Garden was a favorite place to eat for Barbara and my Grandma Millie! Ironically, Barbara wanted to meet my Grandma Millie. I suspect these two ladies are finally meeting in Heaven, maybe at an Olive Garden! Below is Grandma Millie on the left, Barbara Smith on the right.
As I sit here typing this blog, I keep thinking of when I first met Barbara Smith. In 2007 my husband, Chick and I met Barbara in Laurel Springs, New Jersey. I share this in my book. Her son, Geoff, was doing some gardening in the backyard of her home. We told Geoff who we were and that we were searching for a Tomlinson Home my Great-Grandmother, Sophia Huff may have been a servant in. Geoff told us he was a descendent and that his 88 year old mother, Cora Barbara Walker Smith was still alive and living in this old victorian home. Barbara was the daughter of Cora Tomlinson! Wow, I thought, we had finally found the home Sophia Huff lived in! Chick and I were invited into the house to talk to Barbara and Geoff. We learned that Sophia wasn’t a servant that lived in this home, another Indian girl named Grace Thumbo, resided here as a servant at the turn of the century. I learned there were many Indian students from the Carlisle Indian Industrial Boarding School who worked at servants (called Outings) for non-white families in the area. Barbara told us all about Grace. She asked me if I knew what became of Grace Thumbo. I didn’t know anything about Grace, having just learned about her. After talking with Barbara and Geoff for awhile, I promised Barbara and Geoff I would find out whatever happened to Grace Thumbo. Below is a photo of Grace that Barbara gave me. On the right is inscribed: Grace Thumbo-Mohave Tribe. A sweet girl who lived with us for several years. Signed, Cora T (Tomlinson) Walker (Barbara’s mother).
To all of you reading this blog, I need your help in finding Grace Thumbo’s descendants. Here is a bit more information about Grace. Grace’s Carlisle Indian School Records stated she had attended other homes to be a servant after leaving the Tomlinson Family. The records also state she was released from the Carlisle Indian School for time served as a student there. These are all false records. Grace left the Tomlinson’s with her brother in 1904. He had traveled to Laurel Springs, NJ from Arizona, to take his sister back to the Apache-Mohave reservation so she would not be assimilated into the white culture. I have learned that Grace married a man named Max Pelchu. She had a son, William Pelchu, while living at Camp McDowell, Arizona, a reservation for Apache-Mohave, Yuma-Apache, Tonto-Apache Indian Tribes. Camp McDowell is now called Fort McDowell. Grace later moved to Phoenix, Arizona and had two more children, Herbert and Paul Pelchu. If anyone reading this blog has information on Grace (Thumbo) Pelchu relatives, that they can share with me, this would so much appreciated. I truly want to contact Grace’s descendants to share how fond Barbara Smith and the Tomlinson’s were of her.
Above is a summary of what my book, Sky Woman Lives in Me, is about. This is a true historical story. It is available through lulu publishing.com at 25% discount. Here are a few indigenous people who write about the true, untold history of indigenous tribes here in our country: Karen Warren-Teach Our Children True U.S. History, “No More Lies”; Theo Van Alst-Native American and American Indian Issues. Thank you for reading this blog. Share if you wish. Sincerely, Roberta Capasso A Proud Member of the Oneida Indigenous Tribe of Wisconsin
January 29th, 2018
Dear Family and Friends,
Hello! I am blogging on WordPress. I am hoping to share this with all of you on my Sky Woman Lives in Me (Facebook page). Below is a summary of what my book is about. I also show you what the cover of my book looks like. My book is discounted at 25% at Lulu.com. If you want to pay more for this book, buy it at Amazon. I share all this again as I am learning how to blog on Word Press. Bear With Me! I wanted to share this with all of you on January 27, which was Holocaust Remembrance Day. This day remembers the 6 million Jews who were killed during Hitler’s reign in Germany. Today I share the hidden genocide of indigenous tribes in our country. Thank you for reading my book summary below. Please share if you wish. Thank you. Sincerely, Roberta Capasso, proud member of the Oneida Indigenous Tribe of Wisconsin (formally New York State). We were moved to Wisconsin in 1830 to make our NY Lands available for non-Indians to settle on. I also will share this blog on my Facebook page titled: Sky Woman Lives in Me.
My Great-Grandmother, Sophia Huff, is in this photo. Can you find her? Here’s another enhanced photo of her to show you, the reader, where she is standing?
Sophia was a student at the Carlisle Indian Industrial Boarding School from July, 1891 until September, 1892. She was forced to attend this school because her mother refused to assimilate Euro-white and only speak English! Even though Carlisle was named industrial in it’s title, it really was an experiment by the United States government to assimilate Native American Indians into the white culture. Sophia and her sister Lily were transported by train many miles away from their home of Oneida, Wisconsin. As Sophia is posing in this photo, her sister, Lily was sent out to work for a white family in the countryside, never attending Carlisle again. The year Sophia was at the school, there was a lot of students that had taken ill due to overcrowding, overworked kids and unsanitary conditions. Sophia was a survivor, as were the other children posing in this picture! I really do not know how many children were ill, just know there were many! The children were monitored constantly and were ruled by whistles and bells, schedules and marching! I would venture to say, many, if not all of these children were punished for displaying any of their Indian Culture. Sophia was punished a lot for speaking her Oneida language. If you were born Oneida, taught Oneida language and spoke Oneida language for 14 years, you too would’ve been caught speaking a language that is a part of you. Sophia even was forced to chew on lye soap! Lye soap! That soap is a very caustic chemical that can cause serious damage, even death if ingested! It burned her throat. But, my great grandmother was a courageous Oneida woman. She survived, otherwise, I wouldn’t be here telling you her story!
In the early l960s when I was around 7 years old, I saw this photo of this old lady displayed in the Milwaukee Public Museum. Fast forward to the year 2000, thirty-seven years later I come across this very same photo! Lo and behold, the picture is hanging on a wall at my sister, Sherry’s home! I was just totally surprised to see this picture again. As mentioned in my book, I asked my sister where she got this picture from and why was it hanging on her wall? It is so ironic that for many years I thought about this old lady in this photo. Her image never escaped my mind. Well, Sherry told me the lady was our great-great grandmother, Elizabeth Hill-Huff-Denny. Sherry was surprised I didn’t know this. I was surprised to see this photo again! I can’t say it’s spooky that this photo appeared in my life again. I feel it was spiritual and meant to be. I sometimes feel like the picture was there to tell me something. After I learned I was a great great grand-daughter of this old lady I needed to find out more about her. I began to research Elizabeth. She could only speak Oneida. Wow! I would’ve loved to have met her and learned some Oneida from her. I would have given her a hug to let her know I love her. Though I can’t speak Oneida I know hugs are universal. We all understand what a hug means no matter what languages we speak. Elizabeth was a very feisty, independent woman. She was proud of her Oneida background. I realize that because she had her Oneida culture and language, she knew exactly who she was. Elizabeth would have learned English if she were allowed to be herself, Oneida.
June 27, 2016
Last week I mentioned that after 15 years of research of my great-grandmother and her mother, that I became aware of my colonization into the European-white culture. I also mentioned I knew nothing of my Oneida culture and language. I learned how my grandmothers’ survived attempts by the U.S. Government to assimilate them white. Their courage inspired me to tell their story in my book, Sky Woman Lives in Me. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would write a book, let alone a story about my relatives and me! I didn’t have the best grades in English class. I was always wondering why I looked Indian, but acted white. I always wondered why my great-grandmother had to go to the Carlisle Indian School and then, had to live with a Quaker family in New Jersey. I was told that this Quaker family was Sophia’s family now. Why? I learned that my great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth, had her children taken from her. Elizabeth spoke Oneida and the government tried to force her to just learn and speak English. Why? How come I never met my great grandmother Sophia until she was in her eighty’s? And, how come I didn’t know Elizabeth and I were related, after seeing a photo of her displayed in a museum when I was seven years old? Nothing Native American Indian, nothing Oneida was taught to me. Elder Oneida relatives weren’t discussed, let alone introduced to me growing up, until they were very old! Realizing I have been colonized (raised Euro-White) has been a real eye-opener to me. Not knowing anything about my Oneida culture and language has left me feeling half a person. There’s a part of me, my Oneida self, missing. I was not allowed to learn my Oneida culture or language. Why?
I was inspired to write this book after researching why I was colonized white. I grew up looking Oneida but knew absolutely nothing about my Oneida culture nor language. I was prejudiced of my Oneida self.