Santa Fe Living Treasures ‚Äď Elder Stories
With a father from one Northern New Mexico pueblo, Laguna, and a mother from another, Isleta, Agnes Dill spent her early years in both places, before boarding at the Albuquerque Indian School between the ages of 8 and 16.
As a young teen-ager she also worked as a domestic helper, an unpleasant experience that helped shape the course of her life. ‚ÄúIt was such a dreary way of earning a living,‚ÄĚ she reflected many years later. ‚ÄúI knew there were other girls like me, who were qualified to do other things. So while I was there washing dishes or sweeping floors, I made a vow to myself--to do something for women‚Äôs betterment in education and employment fields.‚ÄĚ It was a vow she kept.
Most young Indian women in those days--the 1920s and ‚Äė30s--were brought up to be reticent, not outspoken, and to become wives and mothers, staying in the home. But Agnes‚Äôs parents prized education and encouraged her to become a teacher. She earned a degree from New Mexico Highlands University, then was hired by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to teach at four different schools in Oklahoma from 1937 to 1948.