Cleo and the Indians

by Diane King Lewis

I want to share this about Cleo. Cleo lived most of her life in El Monte, California. As my Dadís family lived in California, we made the trip west several times and we always included a visit with Aunt Cleo in these trips.

Because she lived so far away from her family, she kept in touch with letters and pictures. The pictures that were sent to her from family members were pasted on her living room wall, which became a collage of the List family.

When she died my mother was asked is there was anything of Cleoís she would like to have and she said she would like the "wall" and in a few months she received a box full of pictures, yellowed and coated with shellac, that had been scrapped off the wall. Some of these pictures I will share with you all.

Cleo told me that when she graduated from high school she went to Oxford, Ohio and attended the "Oxford College for Women" where she received a teaching certificate. (This took either 6 weeks or 6 months, Iím not sure which but I do know it was not a long time.)

Upon receiving her certificate she got her first job, which was teaching Sioux Indians (now called Dakota nation) on a reservation at Rosebud, South Dakota.

Cleo told she took the train to a western station where an old Indian chief met her driving a buckboard wagon. She rode on this wagon for most of the day across the dessert finally arriving at the Indian reservation.

The next day she had her first class which consisted of males ranging in age from 6 to 21. The men and boys were clothed (some with only a loin cloth) but the little one wore nothing. She said one of her first tasks was to inform them they should wear some sort of clothing to school.

I cannot imagine such a young girl embarking on such a mission.

The "Battle at Wounded Knee" was in 1890 and it was then that the Sioux were put on the reservation. This teaching job was no more than 20 years after that event.

Here is a picture of Cleo and her "first grade" class. It looks as though there may be some girls there.