Interview with Norbert Hill, 05/05/2016

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Kylie Morris, Interviewer | uwocs_Norbert_Hill_05052016.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


KM: Today is May 5th, 2016, it's around 10 am and this interview is being done at the Norbert Hill Center in Oneida, Wisconsin. My name is Kylie Morris and I am going to be interviewing Norbert Hill for the UW Oshkosh Campus Stories, Oral History Project. Okay so, if you want to introduce yourself and maybe just say what you do, who you are a little bit, just a brief summary.

NH: Okay, I- I'm Norbert Hill Junior. I- I- I'm the director of Education for the Oneida Tribe. I'm not to be confused with the name of this building; the building was named after my father and so not many people get to work in the building named after their own father so I have bragging rights so I don't retire. So it just doesn't happen very often. I'm from here, grew up about a mile away from the Norbert Hill Center, across from our health center. It's too bad you wouldn't be able to get a tour of the reservation today, jeez we should 1:00have planned on that but just so we could show you some of the highlights. I graduated from Westborough High School, um I went to Oshkosh in 1964, largely because I didn't know what else to do and I also didn't want to go to Vietnam so I went to Oshkosh; underprepared but ready to have a good time. So, um just a little more background my grandmother was a Mohawk orphan and she became a medical doctor in 1899. So I grew up thinking everybody has a grandmother who's a doctor but that's not true; and I didn't know how special it was until later. My father was Chief of the Tribe or Chairman, my brother was a- a pretty famous comedian; I don't know if you know him- Charlie Hill; he died a couple years ago, he was the first Indian to ever appear on Johnny Carson, he was a friend of Leno, Letterman, and everybody but anyway he's buried, what, two miles from here 2:00with my other family members. And my brother Rick was Chairman of the Tribe and also Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association. My sister became Chairman of the West De Pere School District, first Indian to get elected to that school board. And so I come from a family of trouble makers, we go to a lot of meetings and we try to create good trouble for the- for the community and after 50 years- no not 50 years, 40 years- 30 years away from the reservation because I moved away and worked at the University of Colorado with directing the Indian Program there and also a couple of National non-profit organizations. But I always told Indian College Students- When you finish your degree you're supposed to go home and fix something and so I took my own advice and I moved home; I haven't fixed anything yet but I'm here. And so this is my last job and 3:00I'm glad to be home.

KM: Awesome, okay so you said you grew up in Oneida?

NH: Actually, I was born in Detroit.

KM: Born in Detroit, okay.

NH: Born in Detroit; went to the same high school as Eminem.

KM: No waaaay.

NH: He followed me there, that's right he followed me.

KM: He followed you? Okay.

NH: Yeah ya know. I was a paperboy in the 50s on a bicycle and I delivered papers to that ratty, white trash house he lived in. There's a movie called 8 Mile.

KM: Oh yeah.

NH: You may be familiar with it. He didn't live on 8 mile, he lived on 9 and a half mile. Because I knew the street cause that's where I delivered papers and eBay was selling the house and I knew the address and I knew the house and so I don't know if they ever sold it. And interesting enough his mother who he has a love/hate relationship with, is a Cherokee. And um, he about all that; I thought he could do a lot more to help Indians but I don't know if that'll ever happen 4:00but. So when I was a junior in high school, my father was born here, I was born here, my mother died here so we moved the whole family to Wisconsin which was probably the best thing he ever did. And so I have sort of the urban experience as well as the reservation experience.

KM: Okay, so wait how old were you when you moved back here?

NH: I was a junior in high school.

KM: Junior in high school? Okay.

NH: Yeah and so I graduated, I played sports, actually I was president of my class and so I thought presidents of class are supposed to go to college and I had no idea what that meant so it was better than working in a Paper Mill. And so I went to Oshkosh; I was invited to play football at Oshkosh too so that was kind of what made me feel a little more welcome.

KM: Okay, so in Detroit what was your home life like? Describe it a little bit.

NH: Well, um. Well we grew up in a middle class, lower middle class, ya know. My father was a Machinist and my mother was a Nurse. We had six kids. Ya know, 5:00never went to bed hungry. I grew up in a community of people from the south and Polish people so we were the only Indian family. My father was pretty active in the Indian Urban Community in fact he started the first Urban Indian Organization in the country, in Detroit.

KM: Oh wow.

NH: So we were pretty active and um and we moved back here to a home where he was born without running water or any central heat. We had to go outside to pump the well to get water, we had an outhouse outback. So we were glad to go to school and get a shower every day. There was a little mission school here and on Saturday we could take a shower; if the drain worked it was ten cents, if it didn't work it was a nickel and we had to go home and wash our feet. So it was a real hardship moving here; but again it was the best thing he ever did, in terms 6:00of us getting to know the community and just knowing more about ours. Ya know, when you grow up in a place the first classroom you have, growing up when you're 2, 3, 4 years old, is the kitchen table. So your parents tell stories, we ask questions, you don't know it's a classroom but that's your first learning experience- your parents are your first teachers. So at the kitchen table, we learned a lot about Oneida and about my father growing up and different stories; so it was like storytelling and I didn't realize it was a classroom- there weren't any exams. But reflected on reflection and just learning about my grandmother and learning about conditions of about the Depression or how we got through that. You know the encouragement and you know it was just a great sharing time. I think now, today, a lot of families don't eat together and I think that's a real loss. I don't know how to fix that but that's probably one 7:00of the benefits.  And we used to, you know I used to be a powwow dancer, now I'm getting too old- I can't hardly move but we danced around the Detroit Metro and State Fairs and TV Shows and Powwows and other events so ya know- we knew who we were.

KM: Okay so like you said your dad would always tell you stories and stuff so what kind of things- like what kind of values did he try to teach you?

NH: Well, I think a lot of family stories of him, probably a lot of stories from my grandmother provided medical services to the community. She was a Mohawk so she married my grandfather's Oneida name and they met in Pennsylvania at Carlisle Indian School so they moved here; she had six kids in eight years; the oldest one pulled were five month old twins, he dies in a buckward of Appendicitis in a snowstorm. So she raised six kids through the World War 1, the 8:00Depression, the World War 2, and the Korean War; so single family, country Indian woman doctor. So that's pretty remarkable and 25 years after she finished medical school she didn't have her medical license when she got here but she still practiced cause the doctors in Green Bay didn't wanna come out here and there's no money here, ya know. It's the Depression, people couldn't pay or whatever so she invented the sliding scale then so people- she would do something and people would pay her in chickens or bread or- or they paid when they cooked. She raised six kids and ya know- and my father grew up pretty independent and he- he was a boxer so he almost fought Joe Louis in the 30s as an amateur- I don't know if you know who Joe Louis is but he was a Mohammed Ali 9:00of the day. But that fight never happened but because he was such a good boxer, Old Timers say we like to go places with your father because we always feel safe; if there's trouble he would take care of it, he wasn't the bully or anything thank God but he would take care of the things so he would take these guys who were kind of a renascent to leaving the reservation but he'd take them to dances in Milwaukee and Chicago and they always felt pretty good about being with him, they felt like he was the insurance there if he needed any help- there was a lot of racism. He was scouted by the Packers in the 30s as a football player in high school; so we come from an athletic family. As an Indian family we didn't- we don't hunt, fish, or camp. And that sort of sounds really un-Indian but having an urban experience but an athletic experience and so going hunting is just- you know, you mine as well take me to Mars and it so un-Indian 10:00to say that but we had a different kind of experience. My brother Rick was scouted by UW Madison to play football so we kind of all had successful athletic careers but that's just what you do when you're 16 and 17. My dad always talked about moving back to Oneida so one day- ya know we're packing our bags and selling our house and moving and it was a- moving after you get all your friends in high school, to go into a new situation where the groups are already pre-formed are hard. So it was tough at first but in the end it was good so I say to people that I grew up with a foot in two canoes; one in the urban canoe and one in the reservation canoe and sometimes in that break could be the water 11:00boat but at least I think I can navigate urban areas. Some guys that live on the reservation- they go to New York or Chicago their just traumatized because they don't know how to navigate it. So that experience helped us a lot. Yeah actually I come up from a family of do-ers- we do stuff, we hope it's okay. I worked with the American Indian Science Engineering Society, I was the Executive Director for there so we were- it was a National- we got it to National prominence so I was glad to be part of that. Then I managed the American Indian Graduate Center, we managed the great Gates Millennium Scholars Program for Indians; we did millions and thousands of scholarships for kids in Graduate School, Medical School, Law School.

KM: Wow that's amazing.

NH: So yeah that was in Albuquerque. So after 30 years I decided to move back to Oneida and see if I learned enough in the other world to contribute here so 12:00that's the hope anyway. But Oshkosh gave me the start; a place for me to grow up.

KM: So, I guess when growing up, what were you taught about the meaning of race?

NH: Hm, that's an interesting question. Um, you know- you never know how much you are an Indian you move off the reservation because you always have to defend it. On the reservation you're just one of the guys and so we never talked about race as an ethnicity, we talked about Indians, Indian stories, dances, the meaning of things. My father never said these are three-five values that you're gonna have to know and so we talked about other Indian Tribes, where were they, what they did; he used to tell stories, you know- the storytelling, the creation 13:00or other things that we just sort of kinda grew up with. So it all seemed pretty normalized. You know, you never ask a person- tell me about growing up white- so you're sort of kinda in the environment so it's just there so there's never a class called Indian Studies growing up, it was just sort of you're a part of the community and you just try to sort it out. As a kid in the 50s we had a television of course and we'd watch Cowboys and Indians; my father would never watch it, he'd always get upset about it a little bit and he'd walk out of the room or something. And I never realized that because we'd cheer for the Cowboys; they'd make Indians look so silly on film and I didn't realize the impact of 14:00why- why he was so upset until I taught a film course at the University of Colorado about Indians and how we're portrayed in film. That had such an impact that- right now I created the Oneida Film Society; you'll see some of the posters on the doors here that we filmed for the last three years trying to have Indians watch films with a critical eye; A critical eye in a sense of how do they see themselves in the movie or other it's going to be entertained by the entertainment value but to say how do I really watch films- what does it mean. We have some interesting discussions afterwards but that was a result of that Cowboys and John Wayne kinda stuff; of course my brother made fun of John Wayne, he was sort of kind of a- if you go on google, Charlie Hill, did you ever see him?

KM: No.

NH: Google Charlie Hill. You'll see he was on Richard- he was a good friend of Richard Pryors, worked at the Comedy Store, he used to write for Roseanne. But 15:00you'll see the kind of humor he does but yeah, he can be pretty hard on groups and so those were the lessons he learned in our family. He taught through comedy, that's what he did.

KM: So do you think- I guess what I mean by the meaning of race, like obviously even to this day there's a lot of racism towards a lot of different ethnicities- So were you taught that you were different than others- cause you grew up, you said, around mostly Polish people?

NH: Polish and to use a racial slur- Hillbillies, who came from the South pretty under-educated but to work in the Auto Industries. So there is a- either you had to have a clean bowling shirt to go to a wedding with the Polish people or you got into a fight with somebody from the South who were ignorant.


KM: Did you ever feel or notice you were different from them?

NH: Well I never denied I was an Indian but also I was big when I was little so I didn't get picked on a lot. Once in a while I'd have to take care of things but ya know- or I'd have to stick up for my younger brothers or ya know- we'd figure it out cause our dad would coach us on what to do but then was bad. There was a time in Detroit in the 50s where the cemeteries wouldn't bury an Indian because it was an Indian and I remember [person walked into room]- but our 17:00family talked about the racism and this guy was a World War 2 Vet, Purple Heart, distinguished guy, and they wouldn't bury him and he tried so- we talked about how that was wrong, we knew that there was a difference between right and wrong.

KM: Right.

NH: But later in my career when I lived in Colorado I did a lot of diversity training and so the issue of race came in clear so I did stuff around the country and Germany and Spain, Ireland, so we did stuff internationally. Race in Europe is more about ethnicity rather than what color. It's really very complicated over there, it's a little different. Learning more about what white privilege means, learning about how to teach it and it make sense to the world 18:00for people and try to give them a taste of what Indian people are about- ya know, but it's hard to describe the people that we get over 500 Federally recognized tribes and they all see us as one group, that we all belong to the same tribe, we speak the same language.

KM: Right! ONE culture.

NH: In my career in terms about race, I got tired of doing Indians 101. Ya know, beginning my career I thought, well, I'd have to save everybody but I'm convinced now at my age now that some people are just gonna choose to die stupid. I'll work with the people I wanna work with and interesting enough by talking about race right now, we're talking about Indian Identity. I'm working on an anthology about blood quantum and most tribes you have to be one quarter 19:00to be enrolled, is that your tribe too?

KM: I think so. My dad is actually trying to get us enrolled right now, it's just a long-

NH: So if you're not enrolled you're not an Indian, I mean- I mean is this a [unclear]. You could be, I mean, I knew guys that danced in sun dance without food or water for four days and they're White guys but they were part of the community. Our tribe has a really- history of adoption; my grandmother was a Mohawk, adopted into the tribe but never put on the roll so they don't count her blood. See that's- that's problematic for ya know- so they count my father who's half Oneida, half Mohawk so I become half- a quarter Oneida and a quarter Mohawk. My mother's Cree- You know where that fires' burning up in- uh Alberta? Fort McMurray? Over 16 hundred homes or structures have burned, it's 20 thousand acres. Problem when you go to college you forget to watch the news (laughs); you 20:00don't do that (laughs). But anyways, but anyway so my mother's' from up in that area; wondering how it impacts the Cree people up there. So, so my kids are members of three different tribes but not enough- not enough Oneida to be enrolled here.

KM: Really?

NH: There first generation descendants; well I figured that's what you are. The blood quantum issue in terms of- if the Government ever wanted to get rid of Indians, you'd put em' in a blood quantum cause eventually we'll all marry out and we'll become- we won't be Indians anymore. And so, we're writing a book on anthology which is really difficult cause you have 20 different writers and they all got deadlines and you're chasing them. But next year we'll have a book about- that which will serve to educate people so they- so when they have to- we have to reinvent ourselves because we go to one eighth blood for membership and 21:00the generation will have the same conversation we're having today. And so then you go to a sixteenth but there's lots of economic impact to that and so the question is are we a member of a tribe or a citizen of a nation. And if we're citizens of a nation, what does that mean? So- so it's more than a simple question about race, it's about citizenship in terms of who we are, what values we have, how we're engaged with the community, can I live in Los Angeles and still be an Oneida. All those questions come into play so how do you- how do you participate and is about language and culture; it's like a Rubik's Cube, in fact I'm gonna show you two posters you can take a picture of and it shows how complicated this issue is. So we're trying to educate the community so when time comes we can make informed decisions. Right now we'd make a stupid decision cause people don't realize um- uh how complex this is. It really is very 22:00complex. In fact, just take a timeout; let me go get those posters. That way you can take a picture of them.

KM: Okay.

NH: Okay. This is one [brings in and shows poster of Native blood quantum problem].

KM: Yeah, I'm definitely gonna take a picture of those.

NH: And this is the Rubik's cube [shows another poster] of uh- ya know all the- ya know how you do a Rubik's cube and then it all gets mixed up, that's how blood quantum gets mixed up so you gotta consider all these particular factors. If you take pictures of that I think [unclear].

KM: Yeah, I definitely will- wow.

NH: So but I'm thinking about race in terms of when I um- with Oshkosh. So I never thought of. There- um- there were (laughs) three Indians there in 1964; 23:00one Menominee and he was majoring in Engineering and he was really a smart guy and did you ever hear of a Slide Roll?

KM: Slide Roll?

NH: Guys, guys you're so young (laughs)

KM: Sorry (laughs) we are.

NH: (laughs) It was before calculators and computers and so it was just like uh- um a thing [unclear]. You could do Calculous and all kinds of Mathematical things so Engineers, the nerds, always wore them so they had this big thing on their hip. It was a Slide Roll. There was this other guy who was a Stockbridge guy and he was there- we were both there and we were at some reception as freshmen go to, orientations. And I said to him, see that Menominee guy over there, he's smarter than both of us (laughs). And it was true (laughs).

KM: Oh my (laughs).

NH: When I started in 1964 I think there was about a 95% dropout rate for Indians in Higher Education. Interesting enough the three of us who started in 64 all graduated. The uh- the smart kid transferred to Saint Norbert's. Actually 24:00he was recruited there to play basketball at Oshkosh  but he got injured, he transferred but Buck Martin became active with the state politics and the Governors and I went on to do stuff here and move on and do some national work. But there weren't any other Indians there so- um- and Oshkosh was a pretty racist town, in fact uh- it really affected the Black kids who were just starting to school there and people would drive by and yell names, ya know Oshkosh is a pretty blue collar town. I gotta say I never had a problem um- one of the things that I did as a freshman um- and probably the best thing I- I joined a fraternity, a social fraternity.

KM: Ohhh, okay.

NH: Indians usually don't do that but I did and um- and that saved me. We had a 25:00great test file and a good- you know you always need a support group. The football team is a fraternity, I mean they hang out together at the same bar, the basketball team, the radio club, or whatever- ya know. Your Indian group is a coed fraternity because you're bonded around common issues and so uh- sororities, I don't know. Any other kind of organization, Student Government is another. So in the 60s that was a thing to do but around in the 90s or right now it might be a lot different cause the dormitories provided that same kind of student life; so it's about student life. And so that helped me, I mean as I proceeded to drink my way through two degrees (laughs). When I went to Oshkosh every day was a Saturday so (laughs). So I did enough to stay out of the Army and had a wonderful time and especially being underprepared. I tried to get 26:00through college without reading a book (laughs) or at least did enough to get through and I got a fellowship to go to graduate school which was very nice. I was not ready for any other school and Oshkosh gave me a place to grow up and was patient with me along with lots of other people- I wasn't alone, I mean there ya know so-

KM: Were your parents very supportive of you going to college and stuff?

NH: Oh, because my grandmother was a doctor and my mother was a nurse- ya know so it was not ya know so. Yeah yeah yeah. My mother- my father ya know- I'd go home for like Christmas or something and we'd all be sitting around the kitchen table and I had younger brothers and a sister and my father would say (laughs), 27:00I don't know it was just so silly. He said well son, did you make it and I didn't know what he meant by make it and I would grunt something as I was eating. So my father didn't know that there was a difference between four point and a zero point or world scholar or [unclear] (laughs). He just knew that I was going back to college in a few days (laughs) but my mother knew the difference so (laughs)- so my mother gave me [unclear] later privately (laughs). And uh- I- yeah but I- ya know- I was- I ya know- It took me five years but my last semester I had four credits and got a two point, I fooled around a lot. I was a bartender and I worked my way through a little bit but- ya know when I started there in 1964 tuition was 128 dollars. So you could work in the summertime for room and board, tuition, and- and have some money left over for beer. The prices you're paying right now are just outrageous but that campus isn't what it is today. And I think you know that I serve on the Foundation Board so (laughs) 28:00when we were young we used to go through Dempsey Hall and say God look at those old farts- ya know these old people; now I'm one of them (laughs). I never thought I'd be invited to be there but Oshkosh is a great school and um- and I just have cherished and fond memories of my experience there. In fact, I was on Facebook the other day with a friend of mine, she was in a sorority and I dated her once so we were sorta kind of catching up with each other a little bit. She said I didn't ever know that you were an Indian. So- uh- ya know I didn't go to school in feathers and wear it on my sleeve.

KM: Right! Well, that's what they assume though.

NH: But uh- yeah I didn't know what you thought I says, I never thought of you being White. And so, did anybody ever ask ya- Nobody ever asks you to defend yourself for being White do they; but they say explain yourself- Right.

KM: Right!

NH: Who are you, who's your daddy, and ya know that kind of stuff. So um- they 29:00say why do Indians always sit in the back row. It's for psychological safety in case you gotta escape cause there's a door there. Ya know- or ya know- kids who kiss up sit in the front and smile and you know, the teacher knows who they are (laughs). I always tell the kids to sit in front even if you don't understand what's going on just smile. So the teachers would ask this- I'll tell you another story that happened to me at Oshkosh- they would ask you a question and say well Mr. Hill what does the Indian Nation think about this. I'd say ya know, I'm here to get an education just like anybody else; I don't know, I have a personal opinion but I'm not speaking for a group of people. And you'd never ask Whitey over there what is it like to be White in America, you know because you don't have to defend the whole country cause everybody's thinking different so- so that was one of them. My last one- I was- I was- um majors in Sociology and Anthropology so I this Anthropology I had to get- I had to pass Museum 30:00Techniques. The class met on Saturday and that was not good for me, ya know after five years I decided consequently missed a lot of classes and um- and so one Saturday I went but I was hungover and it was before SUVs were invented with seats in em'. They were like trucks, they had this um- this uh- and I didn't know I was supposed to bring a lunch- ya know I was hungover (laughs)- so I showed up and I'm sitting in there and we're going out to- I don't know if you know where Chilton is but it's quite aways from- okay. And so we're going to Chilton and I didn't know what the hell we were doing. I get to this big field here and it's all- ya know- it's all staked out and there's a grid there, like that [draws grid on piece of paper]. But it was an Archaeological site and what they were doing was digging up Indian bodies. Yeah, that's exactly- and I thought there's something wrong with this and so I said to the teacher: I said you know- it was a two credit course and I needed it to graduate, it was my last 31:00semester- and I says would it be okay if we dug up your grandmother to see what she was wearing, and he got really mad at me (laughs). One, I wasn't showing up and two, ya know- this- I- I could not put language to experience so that's where race or Indian-ness came up in my education at- at Oshkosh, as I'm about to graduate. But I said I knew this was wrong but now there's laws against it; but that just came in ten years ago, not- not then.

KM: Right.

NH: And so, what I couldn't do as a student- I couldn't put language to my experience. I couldn't translate that say anything but I just knew it was wrong- ya know I knew right from wrong. So- ya know-and that was the Saturdays which ya know- I don't- I probably went to one or two of those but I stood back cause I couldn't do that.

KM: Yeah! Wow.

NH: On Tuesday nights, I think we went to Oshkosh museum, right across from Paine Art Center there. Ya know, where the Chancellor lives.


KM: Mhm, yeah.

NH: They had this little thing of dirt they- well they dug up an Indian baby. What they were doing is taking the dirt off very carefully, trying to find the beads and everything. I said I can't do that so- well anyway- um- so I went to the teacher, I says (laughs) I had the gall to say- Is there anything I can do for extra credit (laughs). I wasn't getting the credit let alone extra credit (laughs). And he says well come- come over here on the- some Saturday- or- or Friday and I'll have you do some work around the museum. So that museum- I don't know- Have you ever been in there?

KM: [Shook head saying no]

NH: Okay, it had- it's like three or four stories and it has no elevator; it was built that long ago. So he had me move things that were bigger than a freezer and refrigerator from the basement up to the fourth floor on a dolly. So I was- ya know- he worked me like a dog and the next day I could hardly move because 33:00all- every muscle in my body- my fingernails even hurt- so I did that for two or three Saturdays and did a lot of slave work around the- ya know so I got- I think I eked out a D in the class but ya know I had to have it. So later in my life I um- I became Chairman of the Board for the National- Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. So I shared with him the story- ya know- that I had that I just told you. I went back to Oshkosh to find him, to let him- I was gonna say in your face Buster (laughs).

KM: Can I ask what his name was?

NH: Yeah I can't think of his name but at this age I get a brain freeze. Um- but I couldn't find him so I don't know if he was dead or alive but I couldn't find him but I was just gonna say in your face ya know because I was gonna show him the laws saying how unethical and wrong this was.

KM: Right!

NH: You know, that he'd be put into jail to do that. And so- um- anyway that's 34:00sorta my- I was on the museum board for over 20 years, have you been to the museum in- have you been to Washington D.C.?

KM: I have been to Washington but I was only there for like a day, so-

NH: So what- recently?

KM: Uh, last March. Not this past-

NH: So what did you see in one day?

KM: Umm, I know right. I went and saw- or I went to the- why can't I think of it- Arlington Cemetery.

NH: Okay.

KM: And uh- I took a wreath up to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I did that whole thing.

NH: Oh really?

KM: Um- for a Veterans Organization, that's what I went for.

NH: Oh so you had to go- you had to go do that?

KM: Yeah.

NH: Did you see where Kennedy was born- or- or buried?

KM: I did! Yeah.

NH: Okay. Did you go to any other World War monuments?

KM: Not a lot I- I'm really upset because I wanted to see a lot there, I just had like no time. We were there for like two days.

NH: Two days?! Well that's stupid because you have to pay to get there and you have to turn around-


KM: Well they payed for me.

NH: But still!

KM: Yeah! I agree.

NH: I had a fellowship for the U.S. Department of Education and my family- ya know I worked at the U.S. Department of Education. We did something every weekend for a year and we still didn't see Washington. I mean there's that much to see.

KM: Yeah!

NH: So I mean- what you do there you- when you go to Washington now it's uh- you wanna get in there and how to navigate it so I learned how to- you learn how to uh- you gawk at museums and big buildings because it's really a very impressive city. If you know how to navigate- to work the city. So people need to at least to spend- some people go there for like a week with family and they try to see it all and they can't.

KM: Yeah.

NH: So you gotta pick out the two or three things you really wanna do and you either get a chance to go to the Museum of the American Indian- which is really great.

KM: I- uhh- I know. There's- yeah.

NH: Well, all the more reason to go back.

KM: Right! Exactly. Exactly.

NH: Anyway- so Washington is a fun city.

KM: Soo, okay- so at UW- at Oshkosh then, were there resources specifically like 36:00focused on helping Natives? Or- I guess-

NH: Well, we were pretty invisible. They didn't- ya know- I went there before Financial Aid was invented.

KM: Oh.

NH: Yeah, they had some kind old lady giving out the- the Daughters of the American Revolution Scholarship so there was no rules or [unclear]. And I think in mid 60s it started [unclear] with some student loans but there was so- there's no Financial Aid. I think there was a counseling center, um- maybe a car- I don't know if there was a career center. There were- ya know- like I was on the Union Board- I was President of the Sophomore Class- I remember being on Student Government. So ya know- I joined everything, I mean- I (laughs).

KM: Right.

NH: And so, um- ya know so we got involved with ya know- homecoming and everything else- ya know so- were there stu- are you saying were there students support activities?

KM: Umm- I- I guess, but more- yeah. I guess yeah.


NH: There was a writing lab but that was for dummies. That was for [unclear] kids. Ya know, even though I couldn't write I wasn't gonna lower myself to [unclear] that I needed help so I- I (laughs) figured another way to do it- ya know so ya know- when you're challenged with the um- uh- there's an article I'm gonna give you, it's about being uncomfortable. And you've seen kids at school there that have never failed at anything.

KM: Ugh! Yes.

NH: They've got A's all their lives.

KM: Yesss.

NH: Ya know- don't they make you sick.

KM: Yes! (laughs)

NH: Yeah, yup. But being- being uncomfortable at this comfort, those lessons help you to be tough enough to do other things. So when they get their first C they fall apart- ya know- or- or they- they say your paper's not good enough and they tear up; ya know so be tough enough. I'll give you the paper- I just- I just got it out of the Chronicle Higher Ed- I've been sending it to a lot of friends; it may help you in your paper too.

KM: Yes, I would love to read that.

NH: So being enough uncomfortable, not enough to be overwhelmed- um- helped me 38:00make sense of that and put it together and say what I have to do to solve the problem. I grew up trying to figure how to collect money from people who didn't wanna pay their- for the paper on a weekly basis but I learned how to get- so all those lessons that you have growing up contribute to who you are right now in terms of how to- how to um- navigate what you gotta do, ya know. And so- um- so growing up with the silver spoon with no um- ya know these kids who have perfect ACTs and SATs and ya know- and then they fall apart at the first- the first sign of trouble, you know. I think those lessons of- of both being successful and also being um- said no to on a number of things or- or you have to do better and- but that's okay- that's- I think it's healthy. Ya know- so.

KM: Yeah. That's how you learn. Yeah, exactly. Umm- okay so I guess besides the 39:00class you told me about- that Anthropology class- um- are there any other classes that you-

NH: Yeah, we had- fortunately I was a sophomore so- there is um- Anthropology- um- a Professor came, it was uh- 'Matinocah' and he became really a good friend. Um- and um- and you know I don't know if you have any teachers that are just mesmerizing, really good?

KM: Yeah.

NH: Well this guy would fill up whole hall, the whole hall was new; now it's really new ya know- but it was new in 1967 but we thought that was state of the art but now it's even- even better. And- um- he would fill up a lecture hall of 200 people. And not many Indians but White people- the people just loved him and they learned a lot about Indians. He taught about Southwest Indians, Indians of North America, and all the other places.

KM: Okay.

NH: But uh- we also were [unclear], he was the drinking professor (laughs) so we all had a great time with him. But I went to the um- Mexico and Southwest with 40:00him so went to Ute Sundances where I've seen people dance four days and four nights without food or water. And it was just- ya know- I learned a lot about Indians or other Indians uh- with him- ya know- and I met the Sundance Chief, Eddie Box, who I just went to his 90th uh- um- birthday party a few years ago- he since died. Um- and he became a lifelong friend- ya know just- a holy man of the Southern Utes. So I learned a lot about depth rather than about um- ya know- the Washington Redskins who I've sued- that was original- one of the original plaintiffs in that lawsuit. I don't know if I told you that (laughs). I've been to a lot of places (laughs). Yeah so, 25 years ago I was one of the or-or- ya know.

KM: Really?!

NH: Yes. Yeah Yeah- so.

KM: Wowwww!

NH: So. Now they got new plaintiffs in the thing but I was one of the first guys to- uh- with several other people, [unclear] and others.

KM: No waaaay! Oh my goodness.


NH: Yeah. I don't know if I put it in there- I mean I- I just told you; I've just done a lot of stuff, ya know.

KM: Yeah, wow.

NH: I was at a meeting one time and this- it- it was 19- 92- yeah- it had to of been 1992, it was like 500 years since Columbus and we were complaining that we couldn't mount the things that they ya know- 500 years since Indians discovered Columbus rather than the other way around. So we were- we couldn't mount on the exhibit in New York City because we were trying to move the museum in New York City to Washington and so we wanted the- to do something to make a statement. So I'm sitting in a meeting next to uh- David Rockefeller and he was on the board- ya know- so- and nice old guy ya know- and so he takes out his checkbook and I see him- he writes a check out for a quarter of a million dollars. And so he takes it and he folds it in half and he uh- pass- he says Norbert would you pass this to the front and so- well I did (laughs). So he payed for this whole exhibit we were trying to do and um- I don't know, if it was before my story 42:00about the dead bodies or not, I don't know- so anyway. But he used to come to the meetings and nice old guy and so I'm on my way back home on the airplane and I wrote a little note to say- on behalf of American Indians I'd like to say thank you for generous contribution, that kind of stuff. And um- I knew it was his assistant so he says ya know- David was really impressed with your note because nobody ever says thank you to him, they just expected him to pick up the tab. He's still alive now; I think he's 98 or 99, he still goes to work in New York City at the- you know where they have the Today Show? In that building.

KM: Yeah.

NH: That's where he works.

KM: Oh goodness!

NH: I've been to his office several times, yeah- yeah- yeah- so.

KM: Wow.

NH: So I've met a lot of people like that- um- uh- Paul Newman's wife was on the Committee- um- or she's on a different committee I was on- um- a lot of- a lot of interesting people. Yeah, so as a result of my Oshkosh degree I got a chance to meet a lot of interesting people.

KM: Yeah!

NH: I- I just sorta been blessed in that way- so.


KM: Wow. Wow! Oh my gosh.

NH: Yeah, yeah.

KM: So did you live on campus?

NH: Yeah, I lived in- well it's not there anymore, Breeze Hall. You know where Breeze Hall is?

KM: Nope (laughs).

NH: You know where that big dormitory is, right by the Union? The real kind of-

KM: Horizon?

NH: Yeah, Horizon.

KM: It looks like a condo kind of?

NH: So there were three dormitories there. Yeah.

KM: Okay.

NH: Clemens, Breeze, and Nelson Hall.

KM: Oh yeah! Yeah.

NH: They tore them down. So I lived there my freshman year; my- uh sophomore I lived Fletcher which was across the street, which was brand new (laughs). But when I went to um- when I went to Oshkosh in 64 but went up two weeks early for the football team.

KM: Okay!

NH: And so uh- and so- Fletcher was brand new and so we got to stay there and then- um before classes started because football practice started cause ya know- and so- I didn't know my mother was having separation anxiety about me going to college (laughs). But she didn't say anything about it!

KM: Right.


NH: And so we pulled up to the front hall of- ya know front of Fletcher Hall and all these upperclassmen were sitting out there just kind of flexing their muscles; I'm 17 ya know- I'm saying oh God, who am I, where do I fit in, how am I gonna- how am I gonna navigate this experience so I'm certainly a little anxious about it. So she- they're all standing out front- ya know- and my- before I could say anything my mother jumped out of the car and went inside and made my bed. (Laughs). I said awh shit. (Laughs). I'm gonna pay for this, these guys are really gonna [unclear] now ya know- she goes in there. They never said a word- ya know and ya know what I think, I think it happened to them, two or three years before that.

KM: Mhm, they understood.

NH: They just- nobody ever said a word, I was just mortified- uh [unclear]. Anyway, I get by and I says oh shit (laughs). But um- and that was a good experience so I got a headstart before the rest of the student body got there, to kinda figure it out. So (laughs), the day I graduated somebody showed me 45:00where the library was, I- (laughs).

KM: No way! No, that's too funny! (Laughs)

NH: Yeah, yeah- Polk Library. Yes.

KM: That is too funny, Oh my! (Laughs)

NH: So um- (Laughs)

KM: That's awesome. Oh my goodness.

NH: So anyway.

KM: So did you go home often, like on the weekends? Or did you pretty much kind of stay there?

NH: I kind of stayed there. The- the- the uh- the more I stayed there the better I got treated (Laughs). There was five people at home- and not that I was unwelcomed, they would always want me to come home but because I was with the football team I didn't get to go home till Thanksgiving.

KM: Oh, right.

NH: Because you had to stay there so I went there- and then- of course for all the traditional vacations, ya know- semester break, and Christmas, and whatever. Um- (Laughs) one time as a freshman in the spring time my mother- you know there was only- there was no such thing as these things [points to iPhone] so there was one phone in the- in the floor of the dormitory and usually some guy's on 46:00the phone crying about his girlfriend or something, I don't know. So if you can get through- so- so the phone rang on the floor one time, some guy came down at me and- Norbert!- and real loud enough that everybody could hear, your mother's on the phone! (Laughs) And so, my mother, she says, she said to me- I hadn't been home for a while- she says, um- I said hello. And she says DO YOU KNOW WHO THIS IS and I says Um, I recognize the voice but I can't place the face. (Laughs) She hung up on me.

KM: (Laughs) No way, that's too funny.

NH: So I went home the next weekend (Laughs). And we didn't have a lot of money, I mean every once in a while she'd send me five dollars, ya know and I always appreciated it cause you know, you can go buy a cheeseburger or grilled cheese sandwich at the Union or something like that so. And I'd tried to pick up odd jobs as we tried- you know it was- it was- um. Where is the go-to restaurant, where is the best restaurant in Oshkosh? Where do you take your parents if they 47:00wanna spend some money?

Katie Stephenson: There's a pizza place, Cristiano's.

NH: There's really no five star restaurant?

KM: Well, there's like um- Becket's I'd say. Or- Ground Round.

NH: Where does the Mayor and the President go? I mean, there's no really-

KM: Good question. When Gyasi Ross came- I- did you know?

NH: Oh yeah yeah! Sure.

KM: We went to Becket's.

NH: He's one of the writers in our book as a matter of fact.

KM: Really??

NH: Yeah, yeah.

KM: I really like him!

NH: Yeah, he's a smart guy. Yeah.

KM: Yeah.

NH: We have people like him writing in the book but anyway, where'd you take him?

KM: Uh, Becket's.

NH: Okay- I don't where- is it by campus?

Katie Stephenson: It's not far.

KM: It's like five minutes from campus, I don't remember.

NH: What street is it on?

KM: Good question (Laughs).

NH: You know how to get there but you don't know where it is, okay.

KM: There's a river right there but there's a river all through Oshkosh (Laughs).

NH: It's called the Fox. It's called the Fox. (Laughs).

KM: This is- this is what's wrong with my generation.

NH: So um- there used to be a place called the Pioneer and I know you have not 48:00heard about that- they tore it down; it was on uh on [unclear], right on the river- there was uh- they used to have more boats there and there would be regattas there but it was like a five star place.

KM: Okay.

NH: So I used to bartend in there. So I was a bartender there so it was like the- the best place where you really got tips. I did a lot of work at a beer bar cause I'd have to throw people out and nobody gave me any tips and that kind of stuff so- so; it's just funny you get dollar tips in the 60s which was just great. So one of my last semesters as an undergraduate in 1969 I did a self-directed Indian Studies um- curriculum. So I had- I had uh- uh canoeing, archery, fishing; I took um- that Museum Techniques course that I talked to you about that I had to have to graduate and then I took- I said I better be a contemporary Indian I should take a course in bowling cause every Indian is on a bowling team [unclear] 1970 so-. And so um- I- I (laughs) must have taken 49:00another class that I- that I dreaded uh- History of Social Thought that you had to have to graduate so- I- I- so I got a two point (Laughs). So I got a two point being Indian ya know- but that didn't ya know- taking archery does not make you and Indian or taking canoeing which I capsized in the Fox, the mighty Fox. Uh- I was fishing and one of the football coaches was teaching [unclear] so ya know he's teaching how to do this- so I was doing- I was fooling around- he knew me from the football team and I went back [acted out casting a fishing pole and swinging it back], I picked up his hat (Laughs)-

KM: Oh My!

NH: And he says Mr. Hill, I think I want you to sit over there (Laughs). Russ Tiedemann, I think they named the baseball stadium- I think he just [unclear] wonderful, wonderful guy and a good friend, yeah. So, anyways that was uh- so I got a two point (Laughs).

KM: That's funny, oh my gosh. Okay so I have kind of an odd question.

NH: Sure.

KM: So-


NH: None of this has been odd? (Laughs)

KM: No, no. You have a great story. Everything you have said is- I'm amazed to be honest. So what was it like to be uh- like to be a man at UWO then? Or I guess in general but at that time, what was it like?

NH: That's an interesting question. I- I never thought of myself as a man. I mean I never- you know I was- you know like I said I- I was interested in- You know there's a there's- you know when you start college when you're 17 or 18- you know there's a maturation process. So it's incremental- it's- it's um- developmental incremental and ya know it's short spurts. So like on your birthday how does it feel to be 18; well I never thought- didn't feel any different than yesterday- you know- so.

KM: Right.

NH: It's like gaining weight an ounce a day but after over time you're pretty fat- you know. But- so- um.


KM: I guess like compared to women, you know like what were the- how would you say it like the- you know how were women treated versus men?

NH: When I went there as a freshman, woman in the dormitories had hours. They had to be in my ten o'clock. Of course the men didn't have hours because we were a lot more responsible (Laughs).

KM: Oh yeah, yup that's why!

NH: That got my sister! (Laughs) Yeah, yeah so you had to have uh- you know you could [unclear] a weekend and you'd have to have a note from your parents- they had really kind of strict rules about that. Um- ya know it's- again I'll tell you it was like Saturday forever- ya know so- it was like one big party. So I knew- I knew if I- if I didn't go to school- I did enough to stay in school cause I knew the party was over and it was either the Army or Paper Mill. Why the hell would I wanna do that- ya know. So I figured I'll stay at- I'll do enough work to stay in school so I- I did- so. I mean, I- and that was kind of interesting but I never thought of uh- I'm sure some of those professors thought 52:00in saying- ya know there watching me do whatever I was doing or not doing and they're saying well, that Hill boy ain't going any place. (Laughs). You know but I deep down I knew when I was at school that I would be working with the Indians when I finished. Nobody ever said I had to do it, my father never said it, my parents and family never said it but I just knew um- that in my heart that I would be doing something with Indians; I just didn't know what. Course, I didn't have any skills when- ya know when- I used to tell people in speeches- when I got outta Oshkosh I couldn't read, write, or talk so I married an English teacher. It's a true story (Laughs) [Unclear]. So I've been in English class for 44 years now (Laughs). So um- I- ya know I learned how to write and I learned how to do other things and ya know- just think about it- what English teacher would you have married- ya know- [unclear]. She was also in the Counseling Program in graduate school and where we met.


KM: Oh okay!

NH: So- I went to- uh- I went to Port Washington High School- do you know where Port Washington is?

KM: Mhm.

NH: Yeah, so I went to Port Washington. My greatest [unclear] was of Port Washington High School counselor was to be [unclear] from the teacher's lounge before the end of the year. Just the way they treated kids, it was awful. And I took on the system. Um- of course in the 60s if it didn't move you confronted it so I- I- I um- I- didn't fit into the public school system; I just would of- just rebelled against the rules and the structure. So I got a job at the UW Green Bay so- uh I got a job there and I became the Assistant Dean of Students and then went to the University of Colorado and ya know other things [unclear]. But- but it was a result of my education at Oshkosh. It was a result. And that gave me the passport and a foot in the door. After you get a foot in the door- once you get in the room you gotta do something. So [unclear] how to do stuff- 54:00so ya know.

KM: So, I am kind of curious like- what your thoughts about um- during the time like- about the Vietnam War? And I guess overall.

NH: There- there were um- of course a lot of protests uh- uh- and violence at UW Madison.

KM: Yeah.

NH: It was starting to bubble up in uh- Oshkosh and um- most of us stayed drunk so we were numbed by that and so I didn't get involved in- and people were just starting to smoke dope and do other experimental drugs and whatever- so. Beer was my drug of choice, it was the only one I could afford at that point in time so. So there wasn't um- there were some protests and so it was just- to me is was horrible and learned a little bit about that so that was just happening in the mid to late 60s. And of course Berkley was happening and other things around 55:00the country but Madison was place uh- and then would read a lot about it and think about that. But there was another thing at Oshkosh that had something about race.

KM: Black Thursday.

NH: Black Thursday. And I knew- I knew a lot of those guys, in fact and you know they got expelled, right?

KM: Right. The 94.

NH: Yeah, so of the 94 there were two or three Indian students in that group.

KM: Yeah! And they never get- people don't talk about them!

NH: They don't- well they didn't know it, ya know and they were- and I didn't know who the students were, they were like freshmen. And they probably knew some Black kids and they said come on we're going to Dempsey Hall but they didn't know they were gonna take over- ya know President Guiles- you know. So that happened on Black Thursday so I knew a lot of those guys who got expelled um- but ya know I didn't take a class before ten o'clock ya know- so I probably cut that and probably got to school about noon. By that time it was over. So the police came in, they arrested all these kids, they put them in U-Haul trucks. 56:00They didn't put them in cars and they took em to jails from Green Lake to Green Bay; they violated every one of their Civil Rights.

KM: Oh yeah.

NH: But people were scared and they were angry and the town was just upset and parents came from Milwaukee uh- the next day and said where's my- where's my son or daughter. They couldn't tell them where they put them in jail; they just hauled em away like cattle. And so it took a lot of time for this to do but they did the exhibit at Oshkosh a few years ago, did you see it? It was just great ya know because to me it was like walking through current events cause I remember- ya know. I remember that and Marty Gruber- who just retired the last year or so in Poli Sci, he was new faculty member and he was scared about not getting tenured but he was- he was speaking up for students- there were a few faculty members doing it. But the place was in an uproar.

KM: Yeah.

NH: Because of that. And the Black kids were talking about Black Studies- ya know they were talking about having Black faculty members uh- on the faculty. 57:00You know who'd really have give you a good interview- I don't know if she graduated from Oshkosh- do you know Toni Scott? No- Toni- Toni House?

KM: [shakes head no]

NH: She's an Oneida faculty member on campus.

KM: Oh! Actually, yes.

NH: She was at the reception.

KM: Someone was telling me about her too.

NH: Just terrific. She is just terrific.

KM: I wonder if she-

NH: You should- you should- if you don't get a chance to know her before the end of the school year- she could [unclear] next year. So-

KM: So was there-

NH: So- so- so the Black students were getting busted like this but I never contributed to race in me cause I could always fend for myself. I never- I never connected it with ya know- um- but I knew several of the Black students and then when they did the exhibit and they had great opening; it was at the um- the- the Opera House- they did that there. And a lot of those guys came back and they were successful too. A lot of them dropped out, they transferred to different 58:00places, some had graduate degrees, PhDs, uh- successful careers, and so it was just fun to talk to them afterwards. Ya know a couple of those guys were on the football team and I knew them. And um-

KM: I know a couple of them actually- if I'm- correct me if I'm wrong but got drafted into the Vietnam War?

NH: Of course. Yeah, yeah. One guy got drafted and he went to Vietnam, came back and played football in Oshkosh. [Unclear] yeah, he's the Vice President to the [Unclear] Foundation; yeah, he's a good friend of mine.

KM: wow.

NH: And so there are others- another guy became a General and uh- um- and moving up in the uh- uh- the Reserves so yeah um- Bob Cockroft. So there were other people that were [Unclear] and they did a reflection of how it was not- and they talked about how bad it was in Oshkosh, the environment and the climate. But how things have changed and there some of the administrators who were there at that time and saying what- ya know you got the in between stories, the backstory of 59:00what really happened.

KM: Right, so out of the 94 that got arrested, two of them were-

NH: Two or three of them were Native students but because I could see it because I looked down the names and one was- you know you could tell if it was a Menominee and I said there- I didn't realize until I saw the exhibit, that there were Indians. Nobody knew it. So that's how invisible we were.

KM: Right.

NH: Yeah, yeah. They- they just got caught up in wash. And they were probably underprepared there- so Oshkosh [Unclear] when you put yourself in- put you in a U-Haul and they haul you off to a jail- ya know it doesn't make it a friendly campus environment. So most of those kids dropped out, probably never finished. I don't know. Nobody's ever done the history. I remember- I remember the History Professor that was doing this that put that exhibit together- I forgot his name.

KM: He's uh- Pickron.

NH: What's his name?

KM: Jeffrey Pickron?

NH: Maybe, does he-

KM: He's the one doing this too. I'm pretty sure he did that one. Yeah.

NH: He put the exhibit together? Well, I remember sending him a contribution uh- to do it- ya know I probably sent him 50 bucks or a hundred bucks or something like that so I thought it was just great.


KM: Yeah.

NH: That's why- that would make sense he would be doing the Oral Histories. I don't know if he remembers me but tell him- say hello for me.

KM: Okay. I will do that. He'll be hearing this so- (Laughs).

NH: But I don't- I don't know if he'd remember me at all but anyways-

KM: Oh yeah! I told him that I was interviewing you and he said yeah I know him so-

NH: Oh really? [Unclear]

KM: Um, do you remember- so I kind of heard about this but um the Professor Shapiro?

NH: Oh yeah, Jake Shapiro. Biology, yep.

KM: He was the one who got into the car accident with the students?

NH: Oh he got killed, yeah yeah. He taught Biology.

KM: Were you there for that? At the?

NH: No-

KM: No- oh okay.

NH: No. He was killed in the- 70s?

KM: I don't- I don't know.

NH: He was with some students or something like that?

KM: Yeah!

NH: Yeah he taught Biology, ya know I did everything to stay away from the Biology- the Science Department.

KM: I feel ya.

NH: And the English Department. I didn't- [Unclear] that stuff. (Laughs). Yeah, so no- I knew of him and he was- uh- I think a um- a prominent member of the faculty.


KM: Yeah, that's what I heard too.

NH: I think that's true, yep yep yep. Yeah- I'm trying to think- was there a student who got murdered in Oshkosh?

KM: Oh wow- what?

NH: In the Union? I can't think of where it was but there was somebody- I don't- I don't remember now.

KM: Hmm.

NH: In the Union it was much smaller. Um- we used to rent textbooks, we didn't have to buy them. What does it cost you for-

Katie Stephenson: A lot.

NH: How much?

Katie Stephenson: One book could be well over 200 dollars.

KM: Oh yeah!

NH: So you'd spend 500 dollars on books?

Katie Stephenson: Easily.

KM: Yeah!

NH: We'd always put away 25 bucks for books (Laughs).

Katie Stephenson: I don't think I've had book that's just 25 dollars.

KM: Nope!

NH: And then we'd put them on reserve- ya know cause you could go to the Library and the books you couldn't get or whatever. Ya know I didn't go to the Library so I never rented a book.

KM: Right, that's right. You didn't see it till- that's too funny.

NH: But there was no- you know you had to stand in line in Dempsey Hall, right 62:00where Admissions is now. Stand in line and register for classes- so you had to have the cards to register for class so there's not computers so ya know there were 8,000 students there. So people used to break into Dempsey Hall, get in line- ya know how people get in line for tickets for today's for a concert ya know- people would- there would be lines outside of Dempsey Hall, waiting to get through to get registered. I was just- it was- there were no computers! That word didn't even exist.

KM: Yeah, that's like not a thing now at all.

NH: You register online right?

KM: Oh yeah!

NH: I wouldn't survive there- I- I wouldn't know how to do it. I suppose by necessity you have to. And this is standard equipment, cell phone right? [points at iPhone]

KM: Yeah.

NH: A smart phone. Yeah, I'd be in trouble. I don't have one, I'm holding out. (Laughs).

KM: Really?

NH: I have a little flip phone to call out but I don't-

KM: Oh goodness!

NH: I don't- I don't wanna be available 24/7 to anybody.

KM: It's- it's tough sometimes because I just wanna put it away, turn it off, 63:00get away from the world cause it's-

NH: Yeah because you get addicted to it- ya know. I mean for you, if you ever wanna get ahold of me you gotta do email cause I check them- ya know pretty frequently. I don't- at this stage in my life I don't need to do that. I'm not looking at my career now through my front windshield, I'm looking at my career in my whatever I'm doing through the rear view mirror; saying ya know- what- what can I leave? What is the legacy? What, ya know can I do now? So I'm not looking to build a career- you guys are looking through the windshield trying to figure out what's the future look like and- but I'm 69 so I don't know how many more years I'll work. So if I'm healthy enough I'll work and you know. All the artwork in here is mine [referring to posters on the wall].

KM: Are you serious?

NH: Yeah.

KM: You did all of this?

NH: No I didn't do it no no. I collect art.

KM: Oh! I was like wow.

NH: You ever heard of any Ward Churchill?

KM: Uh, say that again.


NH: Ward Churchill. He got fired at the University of Colorado um- talked about uh- he quoted Malcolm X about um the 9/11 at the- Chickens came home to roost. Well anyway, he was at the University of Colorado and anyway he got fired. But he did these three paintings here so- [referring to posters on the wall].

KM: Ohhh! Okay.

NH: Uh that Quanah Parker who was a Comanche um- [points to one of the posters on the wall]. There's [Unclear] woman. There's one that had a pink sky, it was like that [points to other posters on the wall]. And all the other ones that are on the floor here and in my offices.

KM: Yeah, I'm gonna take a picture of a few of them if you don't mind.

NH: Take a picture of anything you want-

KM: Awesome! Um, okay so- just- I guess now-

NH: You get ten minutes.

KM: (Laughs). Okay, I'm almost done I promise-

NH: Okay [Unclear] I'm just telling you your time is- you get your best questions now. (Laughs).

KM: Um, so- I guess what involvement have you had- I know you said a little bit 65:00but what involvement have you had with UWO since you've graduated?

NH: Well, you know I'm- um- in fact I was on the Committee for the Greek Reunion, we had a 50 year Greek Reunion so we would just go to Homecoming- that was fun to see old friends. But I'm on the UW Oshkosh Foundation Board. So like I said, I'm one of the old farts on the wall. (Laughs). I really got a chance to know uh- uh- Chancellor Wells, what a wonderful guy he was. You know and he was a fraternity guy and football player in his undergraduate but I mean so- um. I said Wells you're not finished, what's the next chapter- I'm trying to- I know he's not done because he has too much energy. But I like the new guy too. The new guy's pretty good.

KM: I like him a lot. I didn't meet the other; I like this one a lot. He seems like he cares.

NH: Yeah, well he's got a build on what Wells have done and he's smart about it- and like his wife- and ya know I said to him- I said uh- you oughta invite the Indian students over to your house for a reception. That's how it started.


KM: Really?

NH: Yeah, I says they won't know what you look like until graduation when they walk across the stage. In fact, when I walked across the stage in 69, it was Guiles- who they took over his office- it was over at Jackson Field which is over on Jackson Street; that's where the graduations were held. And uh, I didn't know what they did when it rained but anyway. So graduations are for parents so my parents are sitting in the stands and whatever; and so the President stopped two people on the stage and talked to them and I was one of them. And he says- he greeted me by my first name- and he says Norbert we're gonna miss you around here. I didn't know he knew I existed ya know and so we chatted for a couple seconds because everyone just goes right through you know.

KM: Right.

NH: And I thought about it and I says was he looking at the police blotter or what- what the hell was he doing- (Laughs). How would he know me? And so-


KM: You were well known, you were very involved.

NH: My mother says what did he say to you and I just told her- you know chatted it up a little bit and kept on going so-

KM: That's pretty cool though. I guess you said you were really involved- I mean

NH: Yeah I did a lot of stuff, yeah. Well yeah, he said- well I had some pictures up- I was gonna bring you pictures- I was- they used to do a prom years ago and I was Prom King. I was- I don't know if they do Ugly Man, I was the Ugly Man on campus, I was Brat King, I was-

KM: No waaaaaay!

NH: Yeah I'd eat 15 brats in- in 15 minutes one time. In front of-

KM: Oh my God.

NH: (Laughs). It was with buns and seven cokes. That's how I got rid of my stage fright because they all had brat day- the [Unclear] club, so it was right in front of the Library, right between Dempsey and the Library. So we had a big stage and there was this one other guy everyone hated and he never lost a bratwurst eating contest- he was a professional brat eating- and so his name was Tiger Lafine; he was bald headed and his hair was long and started in the back 68:00of his neck and had one eye. So I was a freshman and the fraternity says you're gonna be the- so I did. So I ate all these brats but I would of ate the other ones, I threw up in front of 3,000 people into this guy's hat. But there were no rules at that point so I grabbed another brat and ate it and they cheered- people just cheered- people wanted me to beat Tiger Lafine, that's what they wanted. So every time at the four- maybe three minutes- every time Tiger took a bite, I was sick and green ya know and so every time Tiger took a bite, I took a bit and he could never catch up to me (Laughs). So there was an article in the paper and maybe five years ago and says- and even at this age he must be older than me- he says, I've only been beaten once or twice in my life (Laughs). I know he was thinking about me.

KM: That's too funny! That's talent. That is pure talent.


NH: So I was Brat King for two years and I [Unclear] yeah I didn't wanna do that anymore. Do they have Winter Carnival?

Katie Stephenson: No, I don't think we actually do that.

NH: They had have ice sculptures in front of the Union and the big snow sculptures, we used to do that. There used to be a lot of competition, it used to be great fun. And then you know a lot of parties. I sat- I sat- cause I was on the Union Board I used to out to dinner with like the [Unclear] the thing like I was this close to Sonny and Cher. Or the Letterman, a lot of other people. We used to- ya know. Yeah, I was on the Social Committee so I was lucky; you get to do that stuff, yeah. Yeah.

KM: Wow!

NH: I met- who else did I meet- um- I can't think of anybody- it's just ya know.

KM: Oh my goodness, you were very active.

NH: I was just sad I couldn't stay there for just like [Unclear].

KM: Awhhh!

NH: Cause it was just so much fun. Now you gotta responsibilities now so- so in 70:00reflection I think the most important part of this is that um- when I got married and had children I wanted to make sure my kids got the education that I missed. So- of course they had a mom that read to them and ya know she was a good- always a good student. So my daughter, matter in fact I'm going to Bolder; her daughter's graduating from high school this year and she's going to Oregon State and is in the top Women's or girls Cross Country team in the Nation.

KM: Really? Wow.

NH: She's going there and she's a nurse and my second daughter is um- directs a program in Harvard. And she's- it's called Honoring a Nation so she does best Government practices with tribes. Her [Unclear] is much bigger than mine, she's just- just great. She got her Masters at the University of Chicago and my son got a PhD in Microbiology; he's a Postdoc at UC Berkeley.


KM: Wow!

NH: So I'm just really proud of my kids so they got whatever I missed-

KM: Awh! That is awesome.

NH: [Unclear] I think I was put on the Environmental Defense Fund and they were the group that stopped DDT and- and Eagles were endangered. So they stopped that so- I was on that board for 15 years.

KM: Is there anything you didn't do? (Laughs)

NH: I don't know.

KM: That's awesome.

NH: That's why I sent you the resume cause I- you know- [Unclear] there's probably more stuff that I've done but I don't put it on there anymore.

KM: But that's- that's awesome. Okay, so just one last question, I promise.

NH: Okay, shoot.

KM: So, what advice would you give to current students now?

NH: Go to class.

KM: Go to class.

NH: Because I knew that even if I didn't read the book, if I went to class I could pass it. I could remember things enough to get a C. But you should go to class and- and believe in yourself… Because it doesn't matter um- that I can 72:00do it or that person or you can do it, you gotta believe in yourself.

KM: Right.

NH: And it doesn't really matter so I can't get you through on pep talks. You gotta have the unconditional belief in yourself that you can do something and then- and that- I also tell kids that what color does help come in. Help comes in um- how do I say this- it has no color; as long as the help cares it's okay. So it doesn't have to be an Indian, it doesn't have to be Black, it's a bonus if that happens but you know. Help comes in all colors.

KM: I really like that. Awh. Okay, so this just about concludes our interview. I do want to thank you for your time and willingness to share your story. Um, so- before I present you with the Deed of Gift, is there anything else you'd like to share?


NH: Yeah, one question. I talk pretty fast and so I don't know how much you can remember- and so if you have any questions that you need clarified, send me an email and I'll respond to it so don't- don't be afraid to do that.

KM: Okay!

NH: I'm glad, I'm happy. This has been fun- as much fun for me as it has been for you.

KM: This has been so awesome; you taught me so much within what- the hour?

NH: I'm glad you asked me to do this.

KM: Alright, well thank you so much.

Search This Transcript
Search Clear