Jim Dandy interview
Jim start out by telling me about the boarding school experience. How were you treated there?
A boarding school is kind of like a very... it's more or less like you go to military, but the different thing about it is a boarding school is when they take you away from your family, and that was one of the worst part of me because I was raised by my grandparents. Boarding school... when I first started there in Tuba City it was really… I struggled there because at that time I didn't know any English. Everybody has to speak English and I couldn't communicate with anybody unless, if I'm outside or somewhere, we could kind of get away with communicating with one another in our own language. But every time we get caught out there speaking Navajo, we get really, what we call a punishment. And it was a "no no" and you get punished for that. And when you get back and somebody turns you in, you have to sacrifice. You have to be really careful about speaking the Navajo language. At that time I can't… that because I could only speak Navajo, there's no English. I really had a hard time to get used to that because every time I get in trouble I'd be sucking on the brown soap. That brown soap at the time got to be where it taste awful at first but you get used to it, so I kind of get away with it, and I get where I was treated worse than a lot of other students because I couldn't speak the English. It was hard for me to adjust to that and that's why I always get caught with that. And another thing that I didn't like about it was the boy’s supervision. Our supervisor most of the time was not there. A lot of the young students, they're a little older than we are; usually it would be the leaders of each dorm. And we'd get the worse punishment from them because they treat us like dirt. And I got in trouble with that a lot of times get hit in the head with a pocket knife a few times, and I get kicked for no reason. So I got to where I was very mad one time and I couldn't take it anymore. So I got myself in trouble. I went ahead and tried to defend myself in the wrong way, I guess, and I was punished for the whole two months for that; get up early in the morning and I have to scrub floors then get in line for about three hours for my punishment, staying in line straight, never even moved. It's just like the way I'm sitting right now when I'm talking to you. You know that was the worst time of my life was standing. I can't stand standing there for two to three hours sometimes sucking on brown soap. And sometimes it does feel a little bit sick in your stomach sometimes, but when I got used to it I just said I'm used to it. And then another time that I... everybody has to wear the same type of clothes you know we suited up with like coveralls all of the time which was kind of... it's good in some ways and a lot of times I get in trouble and I'll be doing somebody's work for being a... I guess trying to discipline me that way, but I got use to that too. I was doing somebody's work and at night I used to go out and scrub floors until about, oh ten o'clock and then I'd go and I didn't have any time to go out and have a free time to do something. I always been in trouble all of the time. And one time when I couldn't stand it anymore so I ran away trying to escape, and I got caught, and I was punished for the whole month scrubbing floors and doing things that wasn't very good. And there was another time that I was so angry and I tried to contact my parents. They wouldn't let me go see my parents and my parents would come and they'd drop of something for me and they don't even let me go see them. I guess at one time my father really got angry and he came in and really got down with the supervisor, and he was very mad. My father was very mad, and I was so glad at that time, and I was sitting there and had these bumps on my head, and I also had this black eye from one of the older students who gave me a black eye—just no reason hit me in the face. And things like that that we went through so hard. And then the classroom... in the classroom was bad too because we had something that really bothered me was that I sit by these little two girls on each side, and it's hard for me to study, and they'll be sitting there and times that I'm scared, and I think I'm not the only one. A lot of the kids are kind of scared too because they're scared to get in trouble. So I end up getting in trouble again. At one time I got so angry, and I just didn't do what was right, and I got me some thumbtacks and put it on my teacher's chair because she was so mean. She got crutches and when you get caught with something she'll let you have it with that crutch. At one time she hit me the side of the face with her crutches, and I had to kind of, I guess, start swelling on the side of my face that nobody did anything about it and I got the blame for it, and I had to stand in line, and I got so angry at one time that I put thumbtacks. And she knew who it coming from. As soon as I got in the classroom, and she stood and taught there and she pointed her finger at me, and she said, "Jimmy Dandy come here!" And I got over there, and she just gave it to me with her crutches. She turned me around in front of all the students. I just couldn't take it anymore. And with getting in trouble like that they sent me off to Sherlock, Oklahoma away from all my friends, my parents. And I was going to school there with about 150 different tribes and talk about discrimination there—we never got along with other tribes, and we always been, I guess it's just like during the Long Walk you know. There were a lot of these people expecting that there's going to be something that's going to happen to them, and so they hidden in this canyon for a long time. And that's the way I felt when I went to boarding school, is I always expecting that I might get killed or... it was scary. But whenever I got in there, and one time I just barely couldn't stand it anymore so I ran away from Sherlock, Oklahoma; went back all the way to Tuba City miles, and we walked part of the way and hitch-hiked. When I got back over there, there was a government vehicle parked in front of my grandmother's place. I wasn't really that smart to hide away from that. But when I got there, they just put me back. I didn't get to see my grandparents. They just put me back in the vehicle and took me all the way back to Sherlock, Oklahoma. Another time I ran away because I got caught in Oklahoma City, and they took me there, and I was punished for the whole month. They finally took me into the office and said, "hey Jimmy Dandy you don't belong here. You'll never learn. " The only hope I got at that time was mentioned to me by the counselor. They said the only thing that we might help with you is put you on a five-year vocational program. So I started there and that was another struggle I couldn't... And they have to really watch you all of the time just like they know that you can get in trouble. So I was always there, and know that somebody's watching me so I had to be very careful. But I escaped one time. I was working with some of the older people who were working there, and there were two of the very outstanding students that I know that really helped me a lot was one, Dean Jackson, and the other one is, Jet Jackson, and they're still around and the other ones... their both very successful but Dean passed away a few years ago. And they are the ones who were idols for me because they helped me a lot, and they kind of kept me in line. But I started just dropping out of school and working on railroads the rest of my time, and I finally got back into school again and that was another experience that was very difficult. But it turned out to be one of the best programs. It was an L.D.S. Church placement program that I started out in Plymouth, Utah. And I didn't think that I can have the education that I got. And I graduated from Brigham Young University, and I found a good job here. But the only thing that I can tell you about the place, boarding school, there's some good to it because it teaches you independence, and it teaches you how to... as far as being disciplined it was one of the experiences that I had. I'm glad sometimes that I had the opportunity to a boarding school was being disciplined. I didn't get away with anything. The only part that I didn't like was that I was told that I'll never learn and that was false because one of the church caseworkers told me, he said, "you're really a good person," he said, "you need to go to school," and so I believe that that is not the end of it. You can do a lot for yourself. Just go at it and keep your chin up and go, and I believe that and I always... that was my philosophy in counseling is that never give up, which I'm glad that I did.
Jim you were talking about the parents being just about as afraid as the kids. Tell me about that.
I think another thing about that is that my parents were very nervous because at that time a lot of the parents trying to hid their children—they don't want them to go to school. But they being punished for that because a lot of the parents being in jail for that because they, you know hidden their children and get their education. But my grandparents have always been nervous about that, and they said, "You have to go to school grandson because we're going to go to jail, and it's what we don't want to do." And I think there are a lot of the parents been hid like that on the reservation being accused that it's their fault, that their child didn't get an education. Some of them went to jail for that, and which I think at that time they could have done better because it's just like during the Fort Sumner—a lot of them were always nervous because that's the reason why our parents taught us. You got to be early. You got to get up early in the morning. You got to be able to face the hardship, and it was one of the reasons they taught their kids that way. They're a little bit tougher on their kids because sometimes you have to stay up all night waiting for somebody to attack you. And that was one of the stories I got from my great grandparents is because they will never go to sleep. They were sitting all night sometime because they're expecting somebody's going to attack them and take them to jail. And that's another reason that I always taught that I should go to school because they don't want to get in trouble with the law. And we were always expecting that way, and when my brothers and sisters and one of them went to school, and she didn't go to school until about when she was 20 because my great-grandmother on my father's side, she was going to go to jail too and she, instead of going there, she passed away and so my sister finally... my dad decided only hope for her is to get an education so he signed her up in school. She went to one year of boarding school at Shiprock, but she didn't do well until she got in there in the mountain Indian school and then on to the placement program. That's when she started her education. Now she has her master's degree, and she's retired, and she's doing really good. And I'm glad that she hang in there in the school.