Local woman’s book captures memories of living on an Indian reservation - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

Local woman’s book captures memories of living on an Indian reservation

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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 6:45 am | Updated: 11:45 am, Tue Nov 12, 2013.

In 1957 Dema Lee left everything she knew in Oklahoma and moved with her husband and two young children to the Papago Indian Reservation in Sells, Ariz., so that her husband could take a new position working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Now that her children are grown, Lee wanted them to remember that time so she put her memories and experiences into a book, “Indian Oasis: Life Among the Papagos,” which is available for purchase now.

The book follows the Lee family through 1962, starting with their move to Arizona. The family had never been to Arizona before and moving to a completely different climate and culture was “earth shaking,” said Lee.

“It was very different,” she said. “Our furniture was coming and when it got there our home was not big enough so the movers just placed it outside under a cotton tree and left. My husband happened to be gone that week. It was very trying.”

Over time the Lee family got to know their Indian neighbors and the culture they were living in.

“Indian Oasis” contains a lot of history. Chapters discuss how the people on the Indian reservation lived, how the government employees on the reservation lived, and details about what her husband, Rayburn, did as part of the Irrigation Department.

The Lees moved from Sells after 1962, but the people had such an effect on them that Dema felt a need to write it all down.

“Over time we really began to feel like part of the Indian culture,” she said. “We were so accepted and a part of the community. It made us feel like we’d done the right thing. I wanted my children to remember that.”

The book is available on amazon.com and is also available on Nook and Kindle.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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