Oral Histories

Interview of Loretta Flores

Member of the Fort Belknap Indian community. Came to Los Angeles as part of the American Indian Relocation.
American Indian Relocation Project
American Indian History
Biographical Note:
Member of the Fort Belknap Indian community. Came to Los Angeles as part of the American Indian Relocation.
Naranjo, Patrick
Flores, Loretta
Persons Present:
Flores and Naranjo.
Place Conducted:
Flores's home in Commerce, 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 Patrick Naranjo; M.A., American Indian Studies, UCLA.
Processing of Interview:
The interviewer prepared a timed log of the audio recording of the interview. Flores 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.
2 hrs.
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.
Tribal and Family Background — Living Arrangements — Victory Garden — Traditional food items — Dry Meat and Butchering for Winter — Baking — Languages in the Community and Schools — First day of Spring and skipping class — Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) relocation is first introduced -- Decision to relocate off Reservation — Employment at Max Factor -- BIA relocation job process — BIA relocation train ride from Montana -- Others who relocated from home — Feelings on Arrival -- Relocation living arrangements — Apartment with girls from home community — Experience working in city — Communication with home -- Experiences in city — Encounters with other relocated Natives — Leaving Factory work -- Office Job -- Resume development experience — Apartment /Hotel location — Fearful incidents -- Activities -- First Thanksgiving — Office Work experience— Best parts of living in Los Angeles -- Returning home for funeral -- Returningto LA — New Job returning to LA -- New apartment -- Marriage and home — Neighborhood presence in Commerce, CA — Traveling back and forth to Reservation — Imagined life on Reservation — Meets Husband -- First experience as bridesmaid -- Recent visit to reservation — Family moves off Reservation to live in LA -- Established feeling in city — Daughter's experience raised in city -- Extended family — Significant accomplishments and continued education — Planning future — College work in Indian Studies — Current groups in city and Support system — Determination not to live on Reservation.
Growing up in Montana — Boarding school, Flandreau, SD — Running away from boarding school — Divorce of mother and father — Father's Influence — Return to reservation and family native traditions — Maiden name, family background — Grandfather as law and father as bootlegger — Family operated bar — Life at bar — Relocation to Los Angeles — First encounter with gay male and Hispanic culture — Native identity and light complexion experiences — Relationship with mother and father's wives — Separation from brothers and sisters — Mother's Assiniboine tradition — Native name and self-naming process — Relationship with Grandfather — Living bi-culturally and later tri-culturally — Attending College at California State University, Long Beach — Director of Changing Spirits alcohol program — Substance abuse by Natives relocated to Los Angeles — Early experiences around alcohol — Hard-working father — Factory work/Office work — Receiving donations for Changing Spirits program — Helping clients and homeless natives in Los Angeles — Alcoholism and the BIA relocation program — Grandfather and father and bootlegging — Helping others and shaped perspective from relocation — Always being outspoken in Indian community — Closing thoughts and survival.