Oral Histories

Interview of Christine Valliere

Cherokee. Came to Los Angeles as part of the American Indian Relocation.
American Indian Relocation Project
American Indian History
Biographical Note:
Cherokee. Came to Los Angeles as part of the American Indian Relocation.
DuBois, Peter
Valliere, Christine
Persons Present:
Valliere and DuBois.
Place Conducted:
American Indian Revival Church in Bell Gardens, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Peter DuBois; M.A., American Indian Studies, UCLA.
Processing of Interview:
The interviewer prepared a timed log of the audio recording of the interview. Valliere was given the opportunity to review the log in order to supply missing or misspelled names and to verify the accuracy of the content but made no changes.
1 hr. 21 min.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The interviews in the series American Indian Relocation Project document the experience of American Indians who came to Los Angeles as part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs' urban relocation program in the 1950s and 1960s. The initial interviews were conducted by students in Professor Peter Nabokov's American Indian Studies 200A class. The Center for Oral History Research then conducted additional interviews to expand on those first student interviews.
Born in Proctor, Oklahoma on March 29, 1940 -- Seven brothers and sisters, brief education history — Cherokee Indian, grew up in an Indian community not a formal reservation, lived on a farm with family -- Early family farm life -- Attended country school until 8th grade -- Attended Sequoia Boarding School -- Attended Northeastern but left soon after, then attended Haskell in St. Louis -- Parents’ education history — Spoke Cherokee at home as a child, but never became literate in Cherokee — Went on Relocation in Los Angeles after left Haskell (now Haskell University) — Active Indian community in Los Angeles -- Met husband a year after moving to Los Angeles -- Discusses experience at Haskell -- Started going to all-Indian church in Los Angeles -- Very tight-knit Indian community -- Lived in the Silverlake/downtown area of Los Angeles — Discusses the situation of the Indians (mostly Navajo) that moved back after Relocation because they missed home -- Christine loved Los Angeles and was happy to be supporting herself and starting her life in Los Angeles — More on Indian community in Los Angeles -- Social/cultural gatherings such as pow-wows — Husband moved to Los Angeles from Cincinnati — Discusses interest in sign-language, however wasn’t interested in pow-wows -- Grandpa was an Indian medicine man -- Discusses job training pre- and post-Relocation and job training at Haskell — Two of Christine’s children went to Haskell University -- Discusses children and their professions -- Experience at St. Louis was not nearly as good as Los Angeles -- Still keeps in touch with old friends from Sequoia, Haskell, and St. Louis -- Most Indians from Haskell relocated to Los Angeles -- Only goes back to Oklahoma to visit her mother.
Recap of moving to St. Louis (Haskell) and then moving to Los Angeles — Father served in World War II; after returning he began drinking and left the family; he passed away in 1992 from liver cancer at age 77 -- Father’s family history: orphaned, attended Sequoia boarding school — Father left for work and never came back, didn’t hear from him until she was 16 — Father eventually stopped drinking and would come out to Los Angeles to visit -- Always had a good relationship with her father — More on Sequoia boarding school -- Really enjoyed Indian club, taking sign-language, music lessons, and weaving class — Stomp dances in Oklahoma -- Green Corn Stomp Dance in July, sat with the Wolf Clan, sister was a shell shaker (dancer) in Stomp dance, chant in Cherokee — Indian community of St. Louis was very spread out, not a very active Indian community as compared with Los Angeles — Participated in sports with other Indian communities — Husband is Kiowa, from Carnegie, met him after she came to Los Angeles — Story about a reporter who wanted to talk about negative experiences at boarding schools, but Christine had an excellent boarding school experience -- Education was very important to Christine and her family — More on family farm -- Used to go back to Oklahoma once a year to visit their families -- Continues to visit her mother who is currently 92, never wants to move back to Oklahoma — Worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in Los Angeles soon after arriving in Los Angeles in the early 1960s for 2-3 years — Stopped working in order to say home with her four children for about 4-5 years -- Worked for the BIA in Riverside as a secretary, eventually laid off in the early 1990s — More on education at Haskell -- Learned how to do interviews, business classes, short-hand, and typing, generally loved her experience at Haskell.