I hadn't realized I was an Indian

Mr. Pashe talks about growing up.

Audio Chapters

DL: Which relative had the most influence on you?

DP: Which relative- well, I guess it would have to be my dad’s mother’s brother. He was called Uncle Mike, and he lived on the Pipestone Reserve, or Canupawakpa, which it would be called now. And I remember I used to go and spend the summers at his place, and he was just such a great storyteller, and he used to tell us stories about how we came to be in Manitoba, in Canada. And all this time I thought I belonged in Canada, that I was a Canadian- well, I was, but I hadn’t realized we had some from somewhere else. But I remember he made quite an impact.

DL: Did you learn of Dakota spirituality as a child, or as an adult?

DP: That is a very good question, because my dad was a medicine man and my mother was a Christian. So when I was brought up, I was brought both ways. My dad always wanted to take me to see people who would do the traditional healing things, and my mother on the other side, wanted to take me to church. As a matter of fact, she said, “One day I would like you to be a preacher, a minister of the bible.”

DL: Which church was it?

DP: At that time she was going to the Jehovah Witness, but we had the Presbyterian Church here on the reserve, and I remember that minister used to spend a lot of time with me. I was even sent to Montreal for summer holidays between ’75, ’76 and ’77, and I spent my two months in Montreal in the Montreal Presbyterian College. And so I used to spend my summers there and then I used to come home and I used to spend the rest of the time with my dad. And my grandmother was a great one for teaching me spirituality, and her name was Carrie Bell. And she used to go out into the bush and I used to go with her out into the bush and collect leaves and bark and roots.

DL: Is it possible to be both Christian and Dakota?

DP: Yes, I found over the years, because I married a Christian lady from Sioux Valley, another Native girl, and I found she was a big emphasis on my becoming a Christian. So I spent a lot of time- as a matter of fact, I ran the church in Sioux Valley for many years and I just moved back here in 2007, which was just 4 years ago.

DL: Did you learn about Dakota history while you were growing up?

DP: Yeah, I learned. But the first 12 years, being out in the country school with mostly white kids, I hadn’t realized I was an Indian until, oh, I think I was about 9 or 10 years old. I got into a fight with another white boy and we duked it out and he called me, “dirty red Indian.” So I ran that whole mile all the way home from the country school to where we lived on the farm and I burst in the door and I asked my mother: am I an Indian?”

And she said, “Son, sit down, I got something to tell you.” So I sat down at the kitchen table and she filled me in that we were Native, aboriginal people, Dakota people. But she didn’t say right then, where we came from.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator David Pashe Interviewer Deborah Locke in Dakota Tipi First Nation Manitoba, Canada | Thursday, January 19, 2012

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. I hadn't realized I was an Indian March 20, 2019. http://www.usdakotawar.org/node/1487

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