Mrs. Emma D. (Johnson) Goulette. In one of the attractive homes of Shawnee resides a woman whose work and influence have been such as to justify a claim that she is one of the foremost factors in the movement for the education and enlightenment of the American Indian. Mrs. Goulette herself possesses three-eighths Indian blood. She is a native of Oklahoma, or as it was then the Indian Territory. She has received the best advantages of the Indian schools and the higher colleges and institutions of training attended by members of the white race both North and East. Her work has been that of an Indian educator. Mrs. Goulette is not only a cultured woman and a practical educator, but possesses a large share of that rare vision and common sense which are the greatest essentials in working out the problems involved in making the Indian race a distinctive yet homogeneous part of American civilization.
She was born at Salt Creek, Oklahoma, March 1, 1876. Her given Indian name was Ducquawas. Her father was Jacob Johnson, who was born in the District of Columbia in 1827. He married Sophia Vieux, who is a three-quarter blood Pottawatomie Indian. Jacob Johnson had a life of varied experience in the West. In the early days following the discovery of gold in California he conducted a number of caravans from Omaha west to the Pacific Coast. He and his wife finally came into the Pottawatomie country and took their allotment of 160 acres each close to Shawnee. His wife’s allotment of 160 acres is two miles southwest of Shawnee, while his own was two miles further west. He died at his home on his wife’s farm in 1911, and his estate is now in course of settlement. The widowed mother still lives on the old farm.
Miss Johnson inherited exceptional strength of mind and character from her French, American and Indian ancestors and was given an education such as to develop all her faculties. She spent nine years in the Chilocco Indian School, where she received splendid training as a disciplinarian, housekeeper and dressmaker, conducting a sewing class every afternoon for a month at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. She spent one year in public school at Arkansas City, Kansas, four months in Carlisle Indian School, Pennsylvania, and finished her training in Philadelphia, where she took the kindergarten course and teachers’ training course and other post-graduate studies. She has the distinction of being the first Indian kindergartner in the United States and so far as known in the world. She has also attended summer school, spending two different summers in Chicago, one summer at Colorado Springs and one at Los Angeles. For four months in 1911 she studied the theory of education in the Metropolitan Business College and the Doolittle School of Chicago, and later in the Teachers’ College in St. Louis.
While a student in Philadelphia in 1896 Miss Johnson taught in the Model School for Training Pupils there, and having passed the teacher’s examination she was an instructor in the Philadelphia public schools for a time. Later she passed the civil service examination for Indian work, and was appointed a teacher at the Quapaw School of Oklahoma, spending one year there. She was next transferred to the Seneca Indian School at Wyandotte, Oklahoma, and during two years spent there was teacher of kindergarten and primary. Her next position was as advanced teacher in the new school at Rice Station, near San Carlos, Arizona. Little more than a year later she was advanced to the position of teacher on the United States Government payroll with an increase of salary. Until 1903 she was senior teacher in the Phoenix Indian School at Phoenix, Arizona, and was then transferred to the Pima Indian School at Sacaton, Arizona, being principal. During this time she was assigned to duty at the St. Louis Exposition, spending four months in the summer and having charge of the model primary kindergarten at the Indian Building, being the first Indian in charge of class-room work at any exposition. Following that assignment she resumed her duties at Sacaton, until February, 1905.
Then followed a period of recuperation, and she rested and studied at her mother’s farm 2½ miles west of Shawnee. On re-entering the service she was engaged in the Indian schools at Albuquerque, New Mexico, until June, 1909. She then returned home to nurse her sister, Sarah Ann Goulette, who died November 2, 1909. With the exception of Phoenix her work was that of helping to build up run-down schools. Her next work was in assisting Supervisor Charles E. Dagenett of the Indian Employment Bureau to organize an employment bureau for returned Indian students. This was her work from June 1, 1910, until January 27, 1911.
Mrs. Goulette took a prominent part in organizing the Society of American Indians, which held its fifth annual conference at Lawrence, Kansas, September 28-October 3, 1915. Of this organization Mrs. Goulette was made the vice president, in charge of the department of education.
A word should be said regarding the Society of American Indians. It has a membership of more than 1,500 Indians and white Americans. Many of the foremost men of the country, scholars, educators, Government officials and men and women of prominence in other walks of life, have become allied with this organization and are actively co-operating and supporting its work. However, the society is not connected with any other organization and is in no sense under the auspices of the Federal Indian Department. Some idea of the aims of this society can be obtained from one of the booklets of information issued by the organization:
“The Society of American Indians seeks to bring about better conditions so that the Indian may develop normally as an American people in America. The Society has asserted that it believes that the full response to the duties of life is more important than only constant demands for rights; for with the performance of duties, rights will come as a matter of course. The Society thus seeks to urge the Indian to avail himself of every opportunity to learn the ways of ‘civilized’ life, in order that he may become able to compete and co-operate successfully with other men. The Society urges the Indian, by using his mind and muscle, to become more and more a worker, a producer and a builder, instead of merely a consumer. Whatever the natural rights of the Indians are, they can not maintain them unless they can meet enlightened people upon the same footing. This fact is constantly proved when uneducated Indians live in the neighborhood of keen minded citizens. The Society therefore states that it believes that Indian progress depends upon awakening the abilities of every individual Indian to the realization of personal responsibility, for self, for race and for country, and the country to the call to activity. When the nation remedies the laws now hindering Indian progress, work, thrift, education and clean morals will then secure for the Indian all the rights that may be given a man and a citizen.”
An even more vital expression of the objects of this society is found in the following words: “ The time has come for the Indian to look forward; the time of looking backward and mourning has ceased. Men may not live on thoughts of the past or by nursing memories of wrongs; they must plan for the future. There must be hope, not despair. There is no hope in the past, it is dead. Life lies ahead; look ahead; plan ahead. The Society calls upon the Indian to think more what he owes to his country, his race, and what he owes to himself as a man, rather than to think overmuch what the government owes him. The government must pay, we shall see to that, but the Indian must also pay his own debt to himself by useful service to mankind. The Indian who does not will die like a decaying branch on a tree.”
In 1912, at Shawnee, Miss Johnson was united in marriage with Mr. Jefferson Davis Goulette. Mr. Goulette was born near Falls City, Nebraska, November 20, 1861. He received his education in Illinois, and about 1897 he came to Shawnee and was a homesteader farmer for about one year. By profession he is an architect and builder and cabinetmaker, and in the early days he did nearly all the finishing and upholstering of the new cars sent out from the Rock Island shops at Shawnee. At present he is inspector for the engineering and construction work on all Oklahoma State institutions, his offices being in Oklahoma City with the State Board of Public Affairs, He also served two years as superintendent of the Shawnee Waterworks. He is a democrat, a member of the Episcopal Church, and is affiliated with Shawnee Lodge No. 107, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Oklahoma Consistory No. 1, Valley of Guthrie, in the thirty-second degree of Scottish Rite. Mr. Goulette is himself a part Indian, having one-eighth Sioux blood. Mr. and Mrs. Goulette have one child, Cheshawgan Henry Goulette, who was born October 14, 1913.