I have read several good books from the University of Nebraska Press, including the memoirs The Days are Gods by Liz Stephens and Works Cited: An Alphabetical Odyssey of Mayhem and Misbehavior by Brandon R. Schrand. While inventorying our books on Native Americans last week, I found a somewhat older memoir, Where Courage is Like a Wild Horse: The World of an Indian Orphanage by Sharon Skolnick (Okee-Chee) and Manny Skolnick.
While the very well selected memoirs, biographies, histories, and nature books from the University of Nebraska Press are mostly regional, they are not limited to Nebraska. Sharon Skolnick's book is an account of a year with her younger sister in the Murrow Indian Orphanage, now known as the Murrow Indian Children's Home, on the outskirts of Muskogee, Oklahoma. At the time, the author was known as Linda Lakoe. The woman who adopted her gave her the name Okee-Chee, meaning little bluebird, which as an adult she has used as an artist and owner of a gallery for American Indian art.
The setting of Where Courage is Like a Wild Horse is 1950s Oklahoma, when there was still blatant discrimination against Indians by whites. In one chapter, Linda and her sister are twice denied service in local ice cream shops, both owners saying "We don't serve their kind." Being Apaches, the sisters also find themselves shunned by girls from other tribes. They have to fight to survive the bullies in the orphanage where the tough-love headmistress doled out communally-owned dresses in the morning. Girls hoped to be rewarded by getting a pretty dress for the day.
Where Courage is Like a Wild Horse is a compact memoir that could easily be read in a day or two by most readers. I found myself cheering for the plucky girls to overcome their tormentors and find a good family. I was not disappointed.
Skolnick, Sharon (Okee-Chee) and Manny Skolnick. Where Courage is Like a Wild Horse: The World of an Indian Orphanage. University of Nebraska Press, 1997. 148p. ISBN 0803242638.