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Native American Stories of Resilience

Robert His Chase

All text and audio copyright, 2015 by the Native American Development Center ©

Robert His Chase:      Hello, my name is Robert His Chase, Sr. My Indian name is […]. I'm from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. My place of residence right now is in Mandan. I really don't know how long I'm going to be there. I move quite a bit. My family status is my wife and my son. We have sons up from Wyoming. They come up to visit us. Her sons, my sons. Right now I'm just a retired rancher. I was ranching down in Standing Rock for twenty-five or thirty years. I worked on a ranch down there. I went to the service when I was seventeen. When I got out, I went back to ranching again. I was there until I was forty-four. My children's mother got sick and died. I had a rough time with that stuff, but I pulled through it. I had to pull the plug on her when she died. Nobody wanted that responsibility, so I had to do that for her. My kids are either mad at me or they're mad at God.

                                    I sat at home for a long time and I worried about that, how much that was going to bother me. Usually nothing really bothers me much, but that one bothered me. I would sit on my bed. I had a nine millimeter pistol that I slept with every night under my pillow. Sometimes I would just sit there and rock back and forth with it in my mouth because I didn't want to deal with that. God never let me pull the trigger. That's where I went back to my faith and I've been there ever since. I wake up every morning. I get up and pray and start my day. 

                                    I grew up in foster homes. I went to boarding school down in Chamberlain. I learned the meanness of Catholics. I got pulled out of there, and then I got put into foster homes. I learned the meanness of people. I was an abused foster child in two homes. My third home is where I grew up actually. It was in McClusky. My foster father taught me all about everything, respect and everything. Getting jobs and stuff. I grew up pretty good after that. Then I got in trouble and they gave me a choice of going to visit Uncle Sam or else go to the penitentiary. I decided I was going to go into service and do something for my country. That pretty much says it all I guess. 

Lorraine Davis:           The experiences in foster care and Catholic schools, how did you cope with that growing up? How did you-

Robert:                        I guess I held it all in. It never bothered me. It was just a time in my life. I just had to move past it. When I got to the foster parents up to McClusky, I would work my butt off to get my chores done. Then I would get to go to summer camp and see some of my friends. Some were Baptists. Some were Methodists. I would go to all the churches. My foster parents were Southern Baptists, so I would go to church on a Saturday. On Sunday, one of my friends would come out to the farm and pick me and we'd go to church with them. Then there would be camps. I got saved in camp. I was nine-years-old. It was my first, and I felt like I was walking on air I was so happy. 

Davis:                          In your childhood years were you taught about your own culture? Did you get that from anybody anywhere?

Robert:                        No. I was like sixteen-years-old when I went back to the reservation. My grandmother was very old. She started teaching me. I went to the service, and after that I worked. Then I moved different places. I went to college up in Fort Totten for the emergent class. I went into the Lakota language emergent class. I was in a suicide prevention group. Then we started the first Native American group down in Aberdeen. There was thirteen of us. We had our first Native American suicide force. I'm one class short of being a trainer. Well, I am a trainer now, but I want to be a master trainer. I don't see no opportunity of doing that for a while yet. I haven't got into to going to try to help somebody.

                                    I'm kind of a stay-at-home guy right now. I enjoy my life. I enjoy my wife and my son. We get to go watch him play baseball every day or every other day and stuff. I like my privacy. I don't like being crowded. I stay out of the picture and stuff. It's an enjoyable life. I enjoy it. I like going to church when I do go to church. I have health issues, bad health issues and everything. Sometimes I can't make it out of bed. I just suffer, and I don't get to make it to church.  I always disappoint my pastor. Can you drive for me today? I can't.

                                    God has been a major part of my growing up after nine-years-old. I always remembered him. There was a time in my life where I just forgot about God and said I was the boss. That was when I was working. I never took time, or maybe I did take time. Riding a horse out there in the pasture maybe I did take time for a quick chat with him. I really [00:08:00] don't know how to pray and stuff, but I can sit there and take my hat off and look up to the sky and have a quick chat with the guy up there and enjoy life again.

                                    It was never a constant thing. I never attended church until I met Pastor Bakke down there in Selfridge. That was a bad way of meeting him because we were sitting outside and I was having a little drink. Pastor came along and wanted to talk with us.  We didn't know who he was. We invited him and offered him drink. He said, "No. I'm a pastor." Then we started talking about The Passion of Christ. I said I wanted to shoot my TV I was so mad when I watched that show. I said I just wanted to go in there and just commit mass murder for what they were doing to Jesus. I said, you know, that was terrible. We started talking and he got me talked into going to church. I've been there ever since. My health and my life was by Pastor. He's about ninety-years-old now. He lives here in town. I like visit him once in a while.

Davis:                          You learned the language you mentioned?

Robert:                        Yes. I did. Up in Spirit Lake, yeah.

Davis:                          Okay. You have opportunities to use it?

Robert:                        When her sister comes around. She took the class down in Fort Yates, so we ... Not very many words, but we talk and we can say the words and understand each other.

Davis:                          Um-hmm. Is there anything else that you want to share, or maybe you just want to share some words of wisdom with someone who's listening that maybe struggling? Maybe they're struggling in foster homes, or maybe their struggling with just life.

Robert:                        Just ask for help. Ask for help in prayer. Pray all the time. Yeah. You can make it through life easy just with the help of God. As long as your spiritualism is tough, strong, everything will go smoothly for you.

Davis:                          Thank you.

Robert:                        Thank you. 



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