Laura Mae Osceola
Laura Mae Osceola, 74, was there when it all began, using her language skills to interpret the new ways to her Tribe and the old ways to the government. Well known to this day for her speeches and concern for the Tribe's welfare, she was interviewed by Virginia M. Mitchell.
When I think back, all I can see are trees and chickees all around 441 and Stirling Roads. The smell of sofkee cooking, the sound of children playing and the women rustling around preparing a meal, was in the air. I remember waiting for the bus to come down the one lane dirt road, Route 441. This was a very exciting time as many tourists would be on the bus. We had a lot of crafts to sell and that would mean money for the family for their next meal and maybe a special treat for the children, a penny candy.
As I grew up, I took an interest in Tribal Government. I wanted to see the Tribe succeed. I participated in many meetings under the Old Oak and in our one room Clinic with one bathroom.
There was no money and these were hard years. Any money we had eventually came from Government grants and any sales we could make from our arts and crafts. I had a dream that someday we would be self-supporting and that we would not need the government's money. When we went to Washington, D.C., to ask to be continued to be recognized as a Tribe, we said that one day we would be self-sufficient and we were determined to see economic development for our people. I wanted to see our children have the education they needed so that they could be strong leaders for our Tribe. I wanted our seniors to have the care they needed for their older years. I wanted to see a proud Tribe and an industrious Tribe, one that was independent and self-sufficient. It is now starting to come true.
Now that we are seeing progress within our Tribe so that we can see the day that we will not need their grant money, the government wants to take away our chance for independence. They want to put us back where we were, waiting for a bus to make some money selling our arts and crafts. They gave us reservation land and said "Here, make the best of what you have." Now, they want to control what we put on our land so that we cannot use our land to produce income for our people.
The Government wanted to see self-sufficiency and self-determination for our people. However, when we show them what we can do, they want it to stop. What is next? The Federal Government Giveth and Taketh and Taketh and Taketh! I love my people and my Tribe. To me, seeing the Tribe become strong is most important. This will assure me that my children's children will be healthy, educated and have a good life. I have seen a lot of things in my lifetime, some good and some bad. However, with the Great Spirit at our side, my dream will become a reality and the best is yet to come!