Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Student Spotlight: Lindsay Reeder

Rio Hondo College is extremely supportive and prides itself on the diversity of its students. Lindsay Reeder, a twenty-two year old Psychology major and Choctaw.

Lindsay is from the Chahta tribe, which is more recognized as the “Choctaw” tribe. She is a quarter Choctaw, 1/16 Inuit, and 1/16 Cherokee. She is a registered Choctaw Indian, whom in her youth had a dog that understood both English and Choctaw commands.

As a Psychology major, Lindsay would like to have a career in teaching psychology. She states, “ I would love to go into research first, before that. I have more respect for teachers who worked in their field. As to what kind of research, I’ve always been interested in twin studies. The research that’s already been done on them has just always fascinated me”.

Keeping her fingers crossed, Lindsay’s last semester at RHC, will be this upcoming spring, she hopes to become a Titan at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), by Fall 2015.

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Lindsay’s family works with the Okla Chahta Clan of Ca. and put on annual gatherings. Lindsay comments, “My mom (who is half Choctaw) is on the board, and I’m both the assistant to Vice President of the board and the Assistant Pageant Director for the Princess Contest.

During the Great Migration, Lindsay’s maternal grandma, whom was full blooded Choctaw, and grandpa moved to California.

At the time Lindsay tells, “there was an inflx of work in California and no jobs in Oklahoma. My grandparents had already begun their small family in Oklahoma, with three children being born there, and my mother was the first to be born here in California”.

The Choctaw culture is rich and Lindsay involvement in her tribe has even been through pageantry.

Lindsay was Jr Ms Okla Chahta Princess 2002-2003, and Sr Ms Okla Chahta Princess 2009-2011.

“What it meant for me to be a tribal princess was a great source of pride and honor. I was able to travel to different Pow Wows across California to represent my tribe, and even back to Oklahoma for the Labor Day gathering and meet with tribal elders, tribal councilmen, and Choctaw Nation Princesses.”

After deciding to retire because, “ I (Lindsay) wanted someone else to be able to get that chance and to get to experience it all”, Lindsay became the Assistant Pageant Director.

Lindsay’s Chahta Anumpa Aiikhvna, Choctaw Language Class, was the third time that she had worked with ASRHC to celebrate Native American Heritage Month. Lindsay felt that Her father who is, “a proud Cherokee and Intuit man who wanted the school to do something fro Native American Heritage month”.

Celebrating different heritages’, is something that RHC does to promote diversity and help students explore different cultures.

When asked about the importance of Native American Heritage Month, Lindsay explained,

“Natives need to have some kind of recognition in our culture, even if is just for a month. But even this month seems to even be ignored, and that saddens me greatly.

My hopes would be that this month would get as great of recognition as Latino history and African American history moths, and so some of the misconceptions on Natives would change. We are all a people who suffered, Natives, Latinos, and African Americans, so why can’t Natives get a little more recognition like Latinos and African Americans too?”

Choctaw Migration Story provided by Lindsay Reeder:

The minko every night would place his sacred staff in the ground and when they all awoke in the morning, whichever way the pole stood, that’s where they would travel.

One morning they awoke to find the pole standing straight up. The minko’s son Chata excalimed “We’ve found our new home!” but his brother Chikasa disagreed. “It’s still leaning, we need to keep going. This isn’t our new home.”

This argument split the tribe apart.

Those who believed they had found their new home stayed in what is today southern Mississippi and built the sacred mound Nanih Waiya where they laid to rest the bones of their loved ones.

These people who followed Chata became the Choctaw tribe, and those who left with Chikasa to what is today northern Mississippi became the Chickasaw tribe.

Though the tribes were split by two brothers, they still remained allies and sister tribes.

Choctaw History provided by Lindsay Reeder:

The Choctaws went through so much because of the American government. First they became allies to them during the war of 1812 with 1,000 young Choctaw men, including our minko Pushmatahiba (whose name translates to “messanger of death whose tomahawk is fatal in hunting and war) who was made a Brigadier General in the U.S. Army by Andrew Jackson.

Then, in 1830, Jackson forcibly made the Choctaws sign the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek which annulled all previous treaties between the American government and the Choctaws.

The Choctaws were the first to go on forced move, later called The Trail of Tears.

It took three years to move all of those who would go, but in the end two-thirds of the 8,000 that left would die on the trip over.

They sent them in the winter with small pox covered blankets and made them cross rivers covered in ice.

Anyone who died on the trail wasn’t able to be buried and anyone who try to bury someone was killed.             I went to Fort Smith in Arkansas a few years ago and went to the river where they were forced to cross in the snow.

Babies, elderly, and family dogs were drowned in that river by the American officers in charge of transporting them to Indian Territory, and so many were killed by hypothermia from the frozen river.

I couldn’t help but break down and cry when I visited there. It was all so horribly sad trip.

Even thinking about it all now I get choked up.

Then once they were in Oklahoma, it was soon after the U.S. government and settlers took it over, forcing natives to assimilate to American society.

In the 1930s, the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) stepped in and decided to have Native children go to boarding schools as another way for them to assimilate. Their mentality was “kill the Indian to save the child.” To do so, they kidnapped young children from their homes and forced them to adapt white names and Christianity.

They had to learn English and could not speak their tribal language. If caught, they were beaten. Many would die in these schools from abuse and malnutrition.

My grandma, the full blooded Choctaw, went to Chilacco Indian School in Oklahoma and graduated in 1950.

Once she had children of her own, she refused to teach them Choctaw in fear they would not assimilate to American society easily. She did not want them to have to go through what she did.

It was not until she had grandchildren that she began teaching us Choctaw, but by then she had forgotten a lot of it.

I remember when I was little she would never want to talk about her time at Chilacco and anytime I pressed about it, she would get upset. After awhile I just stopped asking.

It was not until after she passed away when I was nine that I learned what kind of things she had to grow up with there and I just cried because I felt so terrible that I had pressed her so much to remember such painful memories.

But even with the painful past, the Choctaws stayed strong through it all and are a strong and thriving tribe today.

In 2010, Barack Obama finally gave recognition to the Choctaw tribe as being the original Code Talkers in WWI.

The Choctaws, and other tribes, whenever the U.S. went into war were more than willing to register and fight for the country, even when this country did everything they could to rid themselves of all natives.

As for how I feel about our history, I feel a strong mixture of anger and sadness about it all.

These were a people that were put through so much solely because they were different and because of the greed of others.

I try to learn as much as I can about our history so I can help prevent it from happening again.

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