2020 Fall Edition Newsletter

The Edith Williams Story We would like to introduce Edith Williams, or Grandma Edith as she is affectionately known at Sunflower Elemen tary. The sun shone brightly February 18, 1928 in Sunkist, Okla homa. Jancy, a lovely young Choctaw woman, went into la bor and with the helped of her own mother brought little Edith into this world. She was born into the Choctaw tribe and had an older brother and sister. When she was three her mother past away and her Aunt Sissy Belvin filled the void. One day a social worker came to her home and helped the family fill out applications for school. Until this time her sib lings had attended public school. Edith was seven and had to leave home to attend Wheelock Academy, an all-girls school for Native Americans. She had only spoken Choc taw but now they expected her to speak and use English – she was not allowed to speak Choctaw any longer. She remembers that she did not like school, cried, and wanted to go home but her older sister kept telling her she would be fine and to make friends with the other girls her age. All the girls her age slept in a large room lined with bunk beds called a sleeping dorm. Older girls were able to live in smaller quarters with only a few to a room. She attended Wheelock through the eighth grade. After eighth grade she had a conversation with her father about going on to high school. She informed him that she wanted to go to Haskell in Kansas. Her father said it was okay to do what she wanted to do. So, Edith started high school in September of 1945 with five other girls from Wheelock. She wasn’t really sure where Haskell was but she soon found out. Some of her other classmates went to Chilocco Indian School in northern Oklahoma while oth ers went to Sequoyah in Chickasha, Oklahoma. At Haskell her English class was tough but the teacher, Ms. Crawgrass, was her favorite. She spent four years living in Winona Hall.

We are so pleased she is with us here today.Growing up she remembers a favorite dish – hominy with pork. She said that it was nothing like today’s hominy. She recalls using an apparatus that would crack the dry corn before it was cooked along with the pork. Desserts were seldom except for the occasional cake.

Sunflower staff and students have had the privilege of seeing Edith’s traditional dress that is a beautiful turquois color. It is one that she has worn to several tribal events. One such event takes place in Tuskahoma, the Trail of Tears Walk. She says all of the dresses are so pretty and there are so many beautiful colors.

We have been blessed to have Grandma Edith help, love, and care for our students for the last 21 years at Sunflow er Elementary. Edith also helps at Lake Mary during times that Sunflower is not in session. During her lifetime Edith has worked in a sewing factory, at King Radio, and in a nurs ing home. She has informed me that next year will be her last year at Sunflower but she will continue to help at Lake Mary. She is an amazing and inspiring YOUNG 91 year old!!!

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