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Ray Derby on Perceptions of Native Americans in Pipestone
Although he has been out of Pipestone for many years, Derby believes that the racism he experienced growing up still exists in the town. Derby attended the local high school, where he was an athlete. Derby thinks his participation in athletics blunted racist perceptions of him. However, he still remembers unfair treatment by the school because of his heritage.
“Those who fall through the cracks don’t necessarily have a real good chance at things in life. I guess you make your own way, with or without education. But, I guess of lot of people, like my cousins, felt like they were being looked down upon all the time and [that] made them uncomfortable.” Asked if this is how he felt in high school, he laughed and told this story: “It was kinda a survival of the fittest mentality. Many, many years ago there was a kid in my class who used to, you know, beat me up and things like that. And I was always told that, you know, I shouldn’t fight back, that kinda thing. And this kid kept on beating and beating, and I’d come home and be scuffed up or whatever. Finally, my parents said something to the school, ‘you need to do something about this kid, he’s harassing and beating my kid up all the time’. This went on over time and one day my dad had come home from work and he was mad as heck because I’d gotten beat up again by this kid. And I was always told not to fight back, you know, try to walk away, whatever. But at that point in time my dad told me to let him have it."
Those who fall through the cracks don’t necessarily have a real good chance at things in life. You make your own way, with or without education. But, I guess of lot of people felt like they were being looked down upon all the time and [that] made them uncomfortable. —Ray Derby
“And when I got the OK, this kid came up to me one day and was gonna do what he normally was gonna do and I turned on him, and beat him up. Now, I’m getting called to the principal’s office, my dad got called and he came up there and literally told the principal off. I’d never expected that. But it was in defense of me, because both my mom and dad had been trying to work with the system and say, ‘hey you gotta stop this kid from beating up our kid’. And it went to a point where he gave me the permission to defend myself and it turned out as bad as it would have for me for this kid. But yet, being that he was a white kid, I got hauled into the principal’s office, but nothing ever happened to that kid for beating me up.” Eventually, the principal let everything go and that kid never beat up on me again.”