Onward Haskell!! ( Memoirs w/ Hokte )


Grandma and I are just relaxing today. We’ve had a few good laughs this morning. We cleaned house and had lunch. She’s reading a new book I brought home. I’m not sure if I’ve said this or not but grandma went to Haskell Institute, now known as Haskell Indian Nations University. (Onward Haskell) She graduated back in 1949!

I first left for Haskell back in 2013, I asked her and my mother to help me move up to Lawrence, Kansas. I was scared. I never lived in another state away from my folks. Well I’ll be dang, grandma told me

“When I left for Haskell, I didn’t have anyone take me. I had to ride the train and I only had one suitcase.”

I thought to myself… Ok, haha all sad girl but before I left she did tell me this,

“You can’t be scared to leave the nest. There’s nothing for you here and you’ll do good things up there. You’re goin be alright Jess. After a week or two you won’t even miss me. I was scared too but I didn’t have a choice. My parents dropped me off at the train station and away I went. When I got up there, I forgot to grab my suitcase off the train. So I didn’t even have any clothes when I got to school.”

Luckily when grandma arrived at Haskell they had spare clothes for her. I remember as a kid she would always go to the Haskell Alumni meetings here in Oklahoma. She made a number of friends while she was there. She showed me her yearbook as well. I thought that was pretty cool. I sat down with her today and told her what I was writing. I asked her if she had a story she wanted to share from her time up there…..

She replied “Oh I got a good one. My friends and I were in line for breakfast. The rules were, you could only have one biscuit. Well dang it while I was in line I dropped my biscuit. I picked it up and looked around. I ended up putting that biscuit back and getting a new one. My friend behind me didn’t see what I did, and he grabbed that biscuit I dropped.”

Laughter makes the world go round and boy I tell you we laughed pretty good about that. After laughing I at least asked her if she told him?

“No, but no one else told him either.”

Once again we laughed. She still remembers her Haskell days pretty well. Somethings are in and out of course but over all she still likes to reminisce. On a side note, I started to wonder if she was the only one from her class still alive? I’m not sure who the oldest alumni is but I’m going to have to say she’s getting close. I’m hoping some of my Haskell friends will take the time to read this and wonder as well… Who is the oldest?

Anyways another story she told me was that they were having a fire dire one night. She lived on the 4th floor of her dorm and slept on the top bunk. When the fire alarm started she woke up and jumped off that bunk bed…. Just to land on her roommate below her, who was also getting out of bed. Haha, we laughed again. She told me ” I felt so bad for falling on her.” I just told her its alright you didn’t mean it.

This one is my favorite. One of her northern friends said “wasté”, to her and she didn’t know what that meant. Grandma went on after that and gathered up her clothes. (Lmao) She thought he was telling her it was wash day instead of “Wasté”. Her friend seen her later with her clothes and he asked her what she was doing with them. She said, “Didn’t you tell me it was wash day?”

Haha, I’m just happy I knew what it meant before she told me. If you don’t know what “Wasté” means, it means good in the Lakota language. Over all today we’ve shared some good laughs. I told her some of my Haskell stories. I only told her the ones that are ok for grandmas to hear. (lol) Other than that it’s about that time for her daily nap. I hope you take time to spend with your elders. They enjoy reminiscing and can be pretty funny.

Onward Haskell!

Published by JustJess

My name is Jessica Arkeketa. I am a member of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Oklahoma. I currently reside in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. I’ve always had a passion for writing but never made an effort to make my writing public. Also this is a helpful resource to help me cope with my aging grandmother.

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