Oral Histories

Interview of Jon Valliere

Kiowa. Came to Los Angeles as part of the American Indian Relocation.
American Indian Relocation Project
American Indian History
Biographical Note:
Kiowa. Came to Los Angeles as part of the American Indian Relocation.
Lannoy, Nicole
Valliere, Jon
Persons Present:
Valliere and Lannoy.
Place Conducted:
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 Nicole Lannoy; graduate degree in Anthropology, 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.
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.
Growing up with grandparents in Mountain View, Oklahoma -- Peyote religion — Parents’ work in Oklahoma (farming, cotton picking) -- Move to Carnegie, Oklahoma — Move to Anadarko, Oklahoma, -- Health problems as a young teenager — Move to Wichita, Kansas for father’s work at Boeing -- Schooling, siblings and keeping in touch — Return to Mountain View, Oklahoma — Move to Hobart, Oklahoma -- High school experience and accomplishments -- Beginnings of Indian and Black integration in the school in mid-50s -- Exposure to racism in school -- High school sweetheart (future wife) — Kiowa language -- Indian way of hospitality -- Preparation and acquiring of food -- Transportation by wagon -- Household amenities (electricity, plumbing, heat) -- T-house structure — Parents' professions — Country vs. town life -- Move to Hobart with grandparents -- Sale of grandparents’ land, move to Carnegie — Brother’s and others’ move to Cincinnati through Relocation -- Relocation to Cincinnati, reasons for move — Work at the Cincinnati Post -- Brother joins army -- Switch to Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) office work, shut down of BIA office — Trip to Cincinnati with father -- Stay at YMCA -- Family ties -- Indians in Cincinnati — Haskell Institute, trade knowledge -- Relocation locations — Transfer to Los Angeles, marriage — Demographic of relocated Indians -- Adjustment to city life, BIA involvement — Housing and work after arrival in Los Angeles -- Drive to LA — Brother’s army career — Work for BIA in Los Angeles -- Racism at the BIA — Job at North American Aviation (eventually bought by Boeing): pay, training, race relations, work ambiance -- Tasks (stock room, assembly line, assembly line lead man -- Raises, pride in his work — Economic success, -- Company's move to Anaheim -- Purchase of home in Pico Riviera -- Work hours -- Retired after 36 years — Module lead man, harness lead man, associate test person for navigation systems, built computers, estimator (avionics and submarines), senior estimator, administrator estimator, structural engineer estimator -- Enjoyed the job — Decreasing sales, early retirement in 1995 — Wife’s job at Boeing (data input), and BIA (home visits) — Retrospective on professional experience — Family life, married twice — Raising kids in the Indian way but with more opportunity -- Kids' schooling, activities, church, pow-wows — Neighborhood safety -- Community and church involvement — Indian community in the area, reasons for their presence — Role of a trade and schooling in Relocation -- Adjustment to city life after Relocation — Retrospective on Relocation experience -- BIA at fault for not providing decent housing, his role in finding decent housing — Job retrospective, affirmative action, affirming Indian identity — Suggestion to improve Relocation program through career and training -- Refusal to go to San Jose — Positive personal experience overall.
Racial composition (Whites, Blacks, Indians) of towns he grew up in –Mountainview, Carnegie, Annadarko — Black football team -- Orphan Indian boarding school -- Segregated schooling -- White/Indian relations — Wichita, Plainview Kansas – Mixed housing projects, mixed schools -- Absence of Asian Americans -- Comfortable race relations, interracial friendships, mixed sports team — Integrated high school in Hobart -- Reactions to integration — Experiences of discrimination as an adult — Racial slurs about Indians and his reactions to this -- Affirming Indian identity — No serious racial issues at work -- Jokes about race and his reactions to these jokes — Tells people what he thinks, reprimands kids in Sunday School — Relations with Asians and Hispanics -- Possible Spanish ancestry, mixing of Spanish-Indians — Affirmative action increased number of Indians in his workplace -- Relationship of minority identity to job security and questionable identity of these “new” Indians -- Affirmative action fading away, minority quotas — Race irrelevant in his college years — New” Indians appearing bothered him, lack of Indian pride -- When he was hired ethnic background didn’t matter -- People using ethnic identity for advancement — Proud of his advancement because of skills, not ethnicity — Elaborates on “Indian way”: respect for visitors and elders, good hospitality, gifts to first-time visitors — Traditional Kiowa foods ate growing up (boiled meat, beef jerky, take roast the size of a fist and turn into 2 feet of strips) and how they were prepared -- After Relocation mostly goes to grocery store, still makes boiled meat, kids grew up with this — Food for all guests at pow-wow back home (meat, hominy) — Other Indian meals : frybread, biscuits and gravy -- Lost a lot old Indian ways of cooking — Important to keep “old Indian way” of respect and hospitality — His grandchildren are also raised this “Kiowa way” (respect, hospitality), one grandchild raised in “White man’s atmosphere” — His children don’t know Kiowa language, just some childhood songs; if “back home” maybe would have had more chances to speak Kiowa language — Travels back to Oklahoma when raising kids to visit family and go to pow-wows every other year or so — “Back home” is Indian “territory” or “KCA” (Kiowa-Comanche-Apache), not a reservation -- Intertribal connections — Grown children go back for special occasions, when they have time — Exposure to and description of peyote religion, “peyote box” -- Christian religion — Kids’ religion, raised in and occasionally attend the AIRC (all kids live nearby) — Description of job at BIA as Relocation aide -- Other aides’ race — Second wife’s different jobs, took time off while raising kids — Evaluation of Relocation program (positive overall) -- Most relocatees’ adjustment to city life, lack of long-term follow-up from BIA — His trip to Los Angeles -- BIA support in transition to city in terms of travel and purchases.