Growing up, I have always admired what we still call “the Indians,” those of cowboy movies and real ones like Chief Joseph, Chief Seattle, Chief Massasoit, and so many others lost to history. But now, after forty-one years of teaching Long Islanders, my pension does not quite include the Navajo children of St. Bonaventure Mission and School. (Remember the WWII code talkers? You can reach them and the Mission kids on the internet.) That’s why I’m writing this.
Not only were their people decimated by foreign diseases like smallpox (What did we know? Pasteur didn’t discover germs until the 1800’s) but now their parents are extra susceptible to alcoholism and depression. I want those kids to have school stuff to fill their backpacks and plenty for breakfast and lunch.
I had all that for my kids, and they made good use of it. I could give them most of the benefits of Western Civilization, and Loretta helped me. I’m not saying I should have been a millionaire instead of a teacher. If I hadn’t become a teacher, I probably would not have seen the needs of St. Bonaventure Indian School and Mission.