09 November 2016

Profile of a Native American, Timothy Abdella (DLA Aviation) (YouTube captions)

November is Native American Heritage Month. It is a time to celebrate American Indian culture and contributions. Timothy Abdella, DLA Aviation, shares his story ...

My name is Tim Abdella.

I'm a Quality Assurance Specialist in aircraft and engines for DLA Aviation. I'm a member of the Yankton Sioux tribe. We're Dakota. The Lakota are out west. That was Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse and we were known as the land of the friendly people. My tribe interacted with Lewis and Clark. We were the first Sioux tribe that Lewis and Clark encountered in 1805 when they made the great trip out west. And we...more or less got along with the government. Weren't as "hostile" as they say as the western tribes. Struck by the Ree, who was the head man. The story is that in 1805 when Lewis and Clark came through a baby was born. And they wrapped it in an American flag and said, "From this time on, Yanktons will be friends with the United States," and that was Struck by the Ree. When Struck by the Ree passed away, my great great grandfather, Running Bull, succeeded him as the head man of our band. He had five wives -- not all at the same time, I don't think. But he had five wives. Not a lot is known about him. Everybody -- my father and his cousins -- talk about his daughter, Minnie.

My father went to powwows with her when he was little and she'd wrap him in her shawl. So she was full blood -- she was Running Bull's, Running Bull's daughter. I've known I was a Native American for as long as I can remember. My father told us stories about his grandmother, Minnie Running Bull. ...So, I've known since I was little. We knew what wasichu meant, which is white man. My father grew up on the Yankton reservation in southeastern South Dakota. He spent time in boarding schools, local boarding schools, a Catholic boarding school. And he suffered quite a bit of bullying because he was more white. And then in the town, the white people talked--treated him as an Indian and the Indians treated him as white, so he was neither wolf nor dog. He was kind of in between. And then when he was 10 years old, he was sent to a boarding school in Rosebud, which is 200 miles away, ten years old. He said a car came and picked him up one day. His mom wasn't around and took him, took him away. The purpose was mostly to make them white. The boarding schools have been around for a long time. The philosophy in the 1800s was "kill the Indian

to save the man." And they would teach them trades -- teach them to be farmers or blacksmiths or shoemakers and then the girls to be maids or cooks to basically eradicate the traditions and heritage. I think in later years, my fathered suffered from PTSD from the experience and it's been documented that the boarding schools have created generations -- and they still have them. They still have boarding schools, I've got cousins that are going to boarding schools now as a day student in Oregon. They're not as bad as they were but they were pretty horrific at one time. Well Native Americans serve in the military an -- "inordinate" I guess is the word -- amount over other races, because of pride or the warrior spirit. I was in the Navy for eight years. My sister was in the Air Force. My brother was in the Marines. My father was a Korean War vet. ...Another cousin was a Marine in the Pacific and he's 92 years old and I don't think he'll be with us much longer, but he was inducted into the Red Feather Society last summer at our powwow, and the Red Feather Society is for Native Americans that were wounded in battle. ...I'm the family historian. I talked to all of them -- my father and his cousins -- to get the stories, the family stories.

I've done the research, I've done the Internet searches, I've found more information. I told them, you know, I want to know the good and the bad, not just, you know, the hearts and roses stories. I want to know, know it all. I think everybody should be proud of their heritage, whatever it is -- whether it be Native American, Irish American, Italian American, whatever. Like I said, you need to remember your relatives, remember where you came from, and...live with--learn from mistakes. I mean, history shouldn't be repeated. So, if we people can learn from the past and move on, that would be the best thing.