Betty Mae Today
Although no longer in politics, Jumper's counsel is sought almost daily
by the Tribal power structure.
This mother of
two sons and a daughter, and grandmother to 10 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren
(all of whom live on the Hollywood Reservation), laughs when she thinks
back to the late 1950s when the Tribe first became organized and she
was vice chairman. "We'd sit under the big oak tree across the way there,
and we'd say one day we'll all drive Cadillacs. That was the dream."
got their beautiful building. And the reservation chickees gave way
long ago to modern suburban dwellings with landscaped yards and circular
driveways. And while Betty drives a Suburban van, others in the Tribe
tootle about in Cadillacs, Mercedes and BMW's. Or when on official business,
in the Tribe's helicopter or private jet.
Her people, some
2,900 Seminoles scattered on six reservations, certainly are financially
better off, Betty Mae says.
But in mining
the good life, something has slipped away. "Now our kids don't know
how to talk Indian." Not Miccosukee. Not Creek.
the language. They're losing the stories and the crafts. We're losing
our heritage," she laments.
So she reminds the
young, "Be proud of your heritage. Remember where you come from."
Betty Mae Jumper with her grandson Jorge Chebon Gooden.
And she recounts the stories, whenever the young will listen. She
even made a videotape,
so the stories won't end with her own death.
And while there's
something to be said for the comforts and conveniences of modern life,
she admits, "I sometimes get a hankering to go out into the 'glades.
I miss the quiet life."
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