“Hold on to what is good
even if it is a handful of dirt
Hold on to what you believe
even when it is a tree that stands by itself”
Traditional Pueblo poem
I ran into IUN Anthropology assistant professor Michelle Stokely, whose contract was not renewed despite her being a popular teacher and respected scholar who has published in such journals as Great Plains Quarterly and is the author of “My Father’s Name Was Zahtah: Constructing the Life History of Alfred Chalepah, Sr.” (University of Oklahoma Press, 2003). Evidently IUN plans to run the Anthropology degree program with adjuncts. When Bob Mucci retired, he was not replaced either. Michelle also taught Intro to Sociology, but students increasingly are taking that class on-line. Michelle will probably lose her home and, like Anne Balay, is on the lookout for a job. For years, the Anthropology Club has been one of the most active on campus, but I doubt it can survive without a faculty adviser.
Archives volunteer Martha Letko showed me how to access Findagrave after I inquired whether she had written about her ancestors. On that site I discovered this information on Native American Alfred Chalepah, Sr.:
He was born Nov. 2, 1910, in Boone, on the allotment of Old Man Archilta, to Alonzo and Rose Maynahonah Chalepah. He received his name from his grandfather, Apache John. His Indian name is "Soo-tho-sche-yon," meaning Old Man Teepee Pole. He married Leota Evelyn Apoyatt on Sept. 26, 1934, in Hobart. He spent 42 years serving the government of the tribe, and after his retirement, participated as a cultural consultant and respected role model. He served as chairman of the tribe from 1978 to 1980. He also served as translator for the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Business Committee in the 1930s. He was knowledgeable about the Blackfeet Military Society, Apache language and Native American Church. At 97, he still participated in all Apache Ceremonials and participated in consulting the government of the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma. He was the father of 16 children, and elder to 121 grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren. A smoking ceremony will be held at the Chalepah home. Prayer service will be at the Comanche Community Center, followed by an all-night wake.
If I changed my name, a top candidate would be Old man Teepee Pole. In Native American culture, old men are venerated, and a teepee pole is like a pillar of one’s home and family.
Hollis Donald paid tribute to the recently deceased mother of Clyde Robinson, who works with Anne Koehler in IUN’s library’s inter-library-loan department. Donald wrote:
Her touch was so tender; the voice will forever linger. The honor that you built your lives upon, the sound that renewed your spirit – those days of joy will never be forgotten. She was the family’s favorite dancer and singer – how could you forget?
Rick Hug was on campus for a meeting of Cal Bellamy’s Shared Ethics Advisory Commission. I mentioned having appeared on radio show panels with Bellamy, and Rick told me that Bellamy had written an award-winning article 16 years ago in the prestigious journal Public Administration Review. I looked it up, and its title is “Item Veto: Dangerous Constitutional Tinkering.” Bellamy frequently writes guest columns for the NWI Times. In a 2014 effort he summarized the work of his commission:
Northwest Indiana has always been a heavy industry, meat and potatoes type place. Our people come from all backgrounds and points of view. Sometimes, we are a little rough around the edges. Over the years, our families, churches and schools have helped to polish us, but more could be done. As president of the Shared Ethics Advisory Commission, I preside over a group of volunteers who train municipal employees on ethical decision-making.
Friday evening I attended a community forum sponsored by ALMA, IUN’s Latino student organization, entitled “Defending Immigrant Rights.” Ably moderated by WLTH radio host Eve Gomez, the panel included IUN Minority Studies professor Raoul Contreras, former UBM (Union Benefica Mexicana) president Tony Barreda, and Reverend Cheryl Rivera, representing the Northwest Indiana Federation of Interfaith Organizations. Barreda and Rivera have been active in protests that forced GEO Corporation to withdraw its proposal to build a for-profit immigrant detention center on property near Gary Airport. The speakers pointed out that the existence of such a facility would lead to raids against undocumented people in order to fill its cells and maintain its profitability and inevitably split up families. Rather than provide good-paying jobs for local residents, most work inside GEO prisons is carried out by inmates making about 13 cents an hour. Tony Barreda emphasized that Mexican immigrants are not taking people’s jobs away. He talked about growing up in Texas and working alongside immigrants hauling boxes of pineapples and bananas and picking cotton from sunup to sundown in hundred degree temperatures. Eve Gomez said that she hated the designation “illegal alien” and that her father had once been an undocumented worker.
I was looking forward to hearing Reverend Rivera, who is from East Chicago and knows my son Dave, and she did not disappoint. She talked about growing up in segregated Georgia and first encountering discrimination at a picnic when a policeman tried to separate her mother from her family, thinking she was white. She identified herself as descended from slaves as well as a German Jew and that her husband is a first generation Puerto Rican immigrant. She said she became an activist at age 15 when high school administrators tried to prevent a classmate from becoming homecoming queen because she was an unwed mother. Rivera and others, including members of the football team, threatened to boycott homecoming unless school officials relented.
I donated copies of my latest Steel Shavings to attendees and was pleased that student Ava Meux was in the audience, who’s in volume 44 several times. She wants to do an independent study project with me, and I suggested doing an oral history of her grandmother, an accomplished pianist and youth choir director. Representing ALMA was the son of Eugenia Arredondo, and I introduced myself as one who had helped edit “Maria’s Journey,” about his family’s matriarch. Samuel A. Love, who first fought GEO’s scheme to locate a prison in Hobart, was pleased to see me. He and Ava Meux appeared together on Jerry Davich’s radio show during that fight.