January 2, 2023

Wow! It is 2023! Time flies and waits for no one! I hope everyone reading this had a wonderful Christmas, Happy New Year’s and all will have a Healthy, Happy 2023!

As mentioned in my book: Sky Woman Lives in Me, Oneida Indigenous people celebrate New Year’s by saying “Hoyan”, which in Oneida means, Happy New Year! When my Grandmother Millie lived on the Oneida Indian Reservation, she and her siblings would ride in a horse drawn wagon through Oneida early New Year’s Day. The wagon full of kids, stopped at homes nearby for donuts or other treats. Neighbors gave the children donuts, fruit or some other treat to celebrate the Oneida New Year. Grandma Millie loved the Hoyan Celebration! She and the other children huddled together in the wagon, covered in blankets. Her father also put heated bricks on the wagon to keep the children warm, as they traveled from house to house for donuts or other treats.

Below is a photo of my relatives, left to right: Great-great Grandmother Aliskwat (Elizabeth Hill Huff Denny); Grandma Millie Powless-Elm; Me as a little girl; Great-Grandmother Sophia Huff-Powless. I share the story of these women in my book, Sky Woman Lives in Me. The Turtle represents our clan, The Turtle Clan. In the Iroquois Creation Story, the earth was created on the back of a turtle. It was there that life began to grow. The Turtle Clan represents the shifting of the earth and the cycles of the moon. The people of the Turtle Clan are considered the well of information and the keepers of the land. As a Turtle Clan member I share information about my relatives below in my book.

Please pray for the People of Ukraine. Ukrainians did not start this war with Russia. The people of Ukraine deserve to live on their land in peace. Thank you for reading my blog. Sincerely, Roberta Capasso

November 6, 2022

Dear Family, Friends and Everyone reading this blog,

Hello! I hope this blog finds all well and EVERYONE VOTING ON NOVEMBER 8, 2022! My Great Grandmother, Sophia Huff Powless, born in 1876 in Wisconsin, wasn’t allowed to vote. Like me, she was of the Oneida Indigenous Tribe of Wisconsin. Like me, she was a woman. Thus, she wasn’t able to vote until the year 1924! And even them, Indigenous people and other minority cultures, and women in general, faced much opposition and obstacles to vote.

Today, we all have the right to vote. All of us! On November 8th, please use your rights to vote in this midterm election, here in our country, the United States of America. America is our country! It is the year 2022, but it seems like it’s the turn of the century, when Sophia was forced to attend the Carlisle Indian Industrial Boarding School to be assimilated white.

Here in Wisconsin, where I was born and now reside, our state has many political races going on. What becomes of voting, abortion, women’s rights, same sex marriage, discrimination, education, climate change, racism, etc. will depend on who is elected to run our country. If you want the country to run for all of us, Please vote Blue. Please vote Democratic!

I have proudly voted for Tony Evers for our Wisconsin Governor. I voted for Mandala Barnes for U.S. Senator. I pray the Democrats are elected this coming Tuesday. Our democracy depends on it, not just here in Wisconsin, but in our entire country. Sophia faced much racism for being Oneida. Our government even forced her to attend Carlisle to be assimilated into the white culture. She had no democracy because of her Indigenous Oneida. But, if she were alive today, and allowed to vote, she would vote for democracy! We have a choice of democracy for all or autocracy! Sophia spoke her mind with honesty. Today, she is in Heaven with God, Our Creator. I am glad she is free from having to hear that the 2020 election was stolen. It wasn’t stolen! Biden won! Thank you for reading this.


Roberta Capasso, Proud Oneida, Author of the book: Sky Woman Lives in Me

July 13, 2022

Dear Family and Friends and Everyone Else,

My book, Sky Woman Lives in Me, talks about how my Great Grandmother, Sophia Huff and her sister, Lily Huff, were forcibly taken from their parents in Oneida Wisconsin, to be sent to Carlisle Indian Industrial Boarding School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to be assimilated white, lose their Oneida Culture and language and all ties to their home and family.

I am asking all Indigenous People of our country, who are survivors or descendants of Boarding Schools participants, to please share your stories, your testimonies to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Your written testimonies will help support the bill H.R. 5444/ S. 2907-Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act. Your testimonies can be sent to testimony@indian.senate.gov. and to info@nabshc.org. Your testimonies will help to get the truth out to the public about what happened to all of us in Indian Boarding Schools in the United States.

The Senate Committee is accepting survivors testimonies until July 22, 2022. I know it is hard and difficult to share our Boarding School Stories of relatives or ourselves. It is extremely painful. It took me 15 years of research and writing my book, to finally share my Great Grandma Sophie’s experience at Carlisle Indian Industrial Boarding School. I cried at times learning about her being mistreated just for being Indian. Learning that my Great Aunt Lily, was also sent, was sad too. She never really attended Carlisle, she was sent out to work as a servant in the country for years! Lily couldn’t even speak English! Her parents thought she was being taught at Carlisle and didn’t know she was immediately sent away to be a servant for a non-Indian families. My testimony of Sophia and Lily was sent to the U.S. Senate in May of this year. A copy of it is available on my May 24, 2022 blog site, Sky Woman Lives in Me, if you wish to read it.

However, my story, my testimony, is only one person’s account of the Boarding Schools here in the United States. To help support and pass the H.R.5444/ S. 2907, all of us need to step up to the plate and share our stories. We Indigenous people need to dig deep and share our stories of our Boarding School experiences in written testimony by July 22, 2022. To date there were over 400 Indian Boarding Schools that were in the United States. Like Canada, many Indigenous Children were forced to attend these Boarding Schools here in America. Many children never came home. Many of these children are still buried at these Boarding Schools. They need to be found and brought home. Many, if not all of us Indigenous people, have been affected by the U.S. Assimilation Experiment: Kill the Indian, Save the Man. Though I never attended a Indian Boarding School, my entire family, relatives and I have been affected, even up to today.

Here are a few e-mail addresses to help you with your testimonies. Go to info@nabsch.org for familiarize yourself with the legislation H.R.5444/S.2907. the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act. Again, your written testimonies may be submitted to testimony@indian.senate.gov. You can also go to: boardingschoolhealing.org/truthcommission.org If you have any questions or wish to contact me, please to go https://skywomanlivesinme.blog

Any testimonies would be greatly appreciated, especially by our ancestors who went through hell and almost genocide because of these U.S. Indian Boarding Schools. Thank you for reading this. Please share with others. Sincerely, Roberta Capasso, Author of Sky Woman Lives in Me, Proud member of the Oneida of Wisconsin and member of the Native American Indian Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS)

May 24, 2022

Hello, Below is a copy of part my testimony I sent to the House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States. My testimony is a result of the fifteen years of research I did to write my book, Sky Woman Lives in Me.

I am a descendant of relatives who were forced to attend various Indian Boarding Schools here in America.  Two of my relatives, my Great Grandmother, Sophia Huff, age 14 and her sister, Lily Huff, 16, had to attend the Carlisle Indian Industrial Boarding School in July 1891.  Their mother, Elizabeth Huff, refused to allow her daughters to go to school in Oneida to learn English and not be allowed to speak their Oneida language.  The US Government sent the two girls away from their mother and family to Carlisle to become assimilated white.  There they would learn English and become ‘citizens,’ better their lives, and become good Christians. Elizabeth was told her daughters would be at Carlisle for five years.  The girls would be allowed home to visit each Christmas. 

When Sophia and Lily arrived at Carlisle, they were stripped of their Oneida clothes and showered and scrubbed down with a brush. Their Oneida clothes were burned. The girls had a blue liquid put into hair, apparently, to delouse them.  They were given European, Victorian ladies long, heavy woolen dresses, hard toed shoes and were told to either put their hair into a bun or get a very short haircut.  They were given English names and told they could only speak English or would be punished for speaking Oneida.

The girls were then separated so they couldn’t converse with each other in Oneida. After three days, Lily was put in a lineup with other Indigenous Girls.  The girls were told to “Stand tall, in a straight line.”  As they stood in line, a group of non-Indian ladies walked up and down the line of girls, looking at the girls from head to toe.  After a while Lily was tapped on her shoulder, chosen to become a servant for a white lady from New Jersey.  Lily never returned to Carlisle.

 Elizabeth and Nicholas Huff had no idea that their daughter, Lily, was sent out as a servant to a white family, far away from Carlisle.  Lily could not speak English.  She wasn’t taught at Carlisle anything.  The Carlisle School Rules for students to work for a white family included having two years of schooling at Carlisle, knowledge of the English Language and a student had to sign up for an Outing.  None of these rules applied to Lily! Lily would spend years working as a servant for various white families on the east coast. She never saw Sophia for eleven years.  Lily was paid to be a servant; part of her earnings was sent back to Carlisle for safekeeping.  Carlisle also received funds from the US Government for Lily to attend Carlisle, even though Lily was no longer attending the school!

Sophia would spend one year at Carlisle, learning English and basically a kindergarten elementary education.  She was taught domestic training skills and sewing and learned to march all over the Carlisle School grounds!  She, like many other students, would be caught speaking their native tongue.  Her punishments for speaking Oneida included being forced to chew on lye soap; scrub a floor with a small brush (the size of a toothbrush)!  She was locked up in a dark closet.  She was slapped for speaking Oneida.  She was hit for speaking Oneida many times.

After her first year at Carlisle, Sophia was put in a line up with other Indigenous Girls, for another group of white ladies, from area states, to look over and choose a girl as a servant.  Sophia was chosen to work for a Quaker lady from New Jersey.  Sophia would be a servant with this family for ten years. She was paid.  Part of her earnings had to be sent back to Carlisle. Like Lily, Carlisle received funds for Sophia for attending Carlisle, even though Sophia was not at Carlisle.  Sophia was a hard worker for her Quaker family.  Through the years she worked her way up to being head servant.  After ten years, her Quaker family allowed her to go back to Wisconsin to visit her parents and family.  But she was to return to New Jersey and continue being a servant for the Quaker family after that summer visit of 1902. 

Luckily, Sophia fell in love with my Great Grandfather, Hyson. She told Carlisle and her Quaker family she was not returning to New Jersey.  Sophia not returning to New Jersey meant ‘Sophia had gone back to the blanket’ (gone back to her Indian ways)!  Her Quaker family was upset. Carlisle was upset, hence Sophia never received any of her saved earnings from Carlisle!

 Sophia’s Quaker boss took a train to Wisconsin from New Jersey to try to get his top servant to return to New Jersey.  They all wrangled and argued over this for three days.  Sophia stayed in Wisconsin.  Her Quaker boss returned to New Jersey empty handed.

Thanks to Sophia returning to Wisconsin, I am here to testify to you as her Great-Granddaughter!  When Sophia returned to Wisconsin, she was able to communicate with her parents, Nicholas, and Elizabeth Huff, in Oneida. She secretly kept her Oneida language!  That reunion still brings tears to my eyes!

When my grandmother, Millie was a little girl, she would visit with her grandmother, Grandma Elizabeth Huff.  But it was difficult for Millie.  Millie could not speak Oneida. She wasn’t taught Oneida by Sophia for fear of repercussion from the US Government.  Grandma Huff could not speak English.  Millie couldn’t bond with her grandmother because of neither speaking the same language.  Millie would always leave the room when her mother Sophia spoke Oneida with Elizabeth, because she couldn’t understand Grandma Huff and Sophia anyways.  Learning about this made me very sad.

I did not meet Sophia until she was well into her eighties. She was like a stranger to me.  No one told me about her.  I never knew about her.  I didn’t see the Oneida Reservation until I was an adult. I know nothing of my Oneida Culture or language.  The television westerns I saw on TV as a child, portrayed Indians as dirty and savages.  I didn’t want to be one of those!  I was made to be ashamed of my Indian self and I was prejudice of my Oneida roots for a long time, well into my adulthood.

As an adult I was able to tour the Carlisle Indian Industrial Boarding School Grounds three times.  It is now an Army War College. Most of the buildings of the school are gone.  But one thing that remains is a cemetery at the entrance to Carlisle.  When I first saw this cemetery, I was really surprised and shocked. What was a cemetery doing on the grounds of the Carlisle School.  The headstones were white, marble, military type with children’s names on them.  Some had written ‘Unknown’ on their headstone. I was sad to see this cemetery full of children!  All the schools I attended had swings, basketball hoops, hopscotch, and a playground to play on.  Seeing this cemetery, I realized my great grandmother had attended a school where children had died.   “How come these children died at this school?” came to my mind. Children aren’t supposed to go to school to die.  I am grateful today that my great grandmother, Sophia, survived Carlisle and her Outing work as a servant for a Quaker Family in New Jersey.

 The cemetery at Carlisle still haunts me.  I feel the sadness Indigenous families have, who lost their loved ones at the boarding school.   I feel sad that these children died.  I still think about the tombstones that are labeled ‘Unknown’ at the Carlisle Cemetery.  Yes, my Great Grandmother, Sophia Huff survived but at what price?  Maybe Sophia’s memory of the burning of her throat from chewing the lye soap, (given to her at Carlisle for speaking Oneida), made her not teach Millie, my grandmother, Oneida.  Fear of repercussions from the US Government probably have contributed to Millie, my mother and I, my children, and many relatives from not learning our Oneida language.

 Well, I am alive today to learn my Oneida language and culture!  But the children buried at Carlisle, and at many Indian Boarding Schools, here in the United States did nothing wrong but be Indian. All the children buried at Indian Boarding Schools here in the United States, deserve respect, deserve to be acknowledged, even the ‘Unknowns’!   Their stories of human suffering need to be brought into the light!  For this reason, I respectfully urge the passage of H.R. 5444

Thank you for allowing me to share my story.  Thank you to the Natural Resources Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States.

Sincerely, Roberta Capasso, Author, Sky Woman Lives in Me

May 23, 2022

It has been two months since I last blogged about my book, Sky Woman Lives in Me. I hope this finds all reading this, doing well.

Kudos to Deb Haaland, The Department of Interior Secretary and Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Bryan Newland, for the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report that was published this May, 2022. The entire report can be found online at: https://www.bia.gov/sites/default/files/dup/inline-files/bsi_investigative_report_may_2022_508.pdf

Just click on the link above to see the investigative report. I recently sent testimony to the House of Representatives, to show my support of passage of H.R. 5444/S.2907. My testimony talks about my Great Grandmother, Sophia Huff, being forced to attend Carlisle, as I had written in my book, Sky Woman Lives in Me, in 2016. After fifteen years of research about my great grandmother and self-publishing my book, I am so grateful to Our Creator, God, that the hidden history of Indian Boarding Schools, here in the United States, is finally coming out for all to learn about. Kudos to the National American Indian Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) for all the work they are doing to bring out the hidden truth about America’s Indian Boarding Schools. If any survivors or descendants of US Indian Boarding Schools have stories about what happened to them or relatives in America’s Indian Boarding Schools, written testimony is allowed by the House of Representatives until May 26, 2022. If you have questions, go to info@nabshc.org.

Below is an example for your written statement to the House by May 26, 2022. This draft was written by NABS.

1) Identify yourself, your Tribe, and the boarding school you attended
a. Boarding School: what school did you or your family member attend, and what
year(s) did you/they attend?
2) State your position of support for “H.R. 5444 the Truth and Healing Commission on
Indian Boarding School Policies Act”
3) Personal story that you are comfortable sharing. This is often the most powerful part.
4) Conclusion: Restate/review your position at the end of your testimony
5) Thank the committee or task force for the opportunity to speak
a. “Thank you to the Natural Resources Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of
the United States”
There is not a limit to the length of your statements. Your written testimony will be on record in
the House of Congress.

You can send your written testimony online to HNRCDocs@mail.house.gov Please send a copy (CC NABS) at info@nabshc.org

The H.R. 5444/S.2907-The truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act needs to be passed so the investigation of Indian Boarding Schools here in the United States can continue. Many indigenous children, known and unknown, died at Boarding Schools here in the United States. They were buried at cemeteries on the school grounds. Let’s bring them home! Share your stories to shine the light on these children. Sincerely, Roberta Capasso

March 23, 2022

March is International Women’s Month! Congratulations to all women out there! I wish to mention my Great Grandmother, Sophia Huff Powless and her sister, Lily Huff. These ladies were truly strong when they were forced to attend the Carlisle Indian Industrial Boarding School in 1891 to be assimilated white. I share their story in my book: Sky Woman Lives in Me. These two ladies were able to maintain their Oneida Culture and language, and their dignity. I also send kudos to our United States Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland for all the work she is doing for indigenous people and for our country. Happy International Women’s Month to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and Barb Landis, Marsha Small, Denise Lajimodiere, etc. I also honor my Grandma Millie and mother Maxine Elm.

My heart goes out to all the people of Ukraine. The Ukrainian people have done nothing wrong to have their country bombed, thousands injured, killed and under destruction from Putin. My prayers are with them everyday. My ancestors were removed from their land unto reservations in this country. I pray Ukrainians can keep their land and return to their homeland of Ukraine. May God, Our Creator, watch over and protect all of us during this trying time. Sincerely, Roberta Capasso, Author, Sky Woman Lives in Me and proud Oneida of Wisconsin.

Thanks to Free PNG.com for allowing me to put this flag on my blog site! :)!

February 22, 2022

Hello to everyone reading this! I am continuing to blog about my book: Sky Woman Lives in Me. Though it was published in 2016, I continue to share this story because it is as relevant today, as it was at the turn of the century.

Fort Qu Appelle Residential Indian School-Canada

Canadian Indigenous people have shared their stories about the Canadian Residential Schools. Their children were forced to attend, to become assimilated white. Last year a mass grave of 215 unknown indigenous children from Canada were found at a British Columbia Residential School. Canada has continued investigating all of it’s Residential Indigenous Schools. More graves of unknown indigenous children have been discovered at other Canadian schools. My heart is heavy, sad, knowing these children died just for going to school, thinking they were going to school to learn. Instead, they died. The photo above of Fort Qu’ Appelle Residential Indian School in Canada, shows teepees outside the school grounds, that parents put up, to stay close to their children. Canada had 139 Residential Indian Schools, all modeled after the Carlisle Indian Industrial Boarding School, started in 1879.

The Rosebud Sioux in South Dakota have begun efforts to repatriate the remains of the 10 Rosebud students buried in the Carlisle Indian School Cemetery. CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

Here in America, the Interior Department and our government are now investigating the Indian Boarding Schools that began in 1879. Carlisle was the first school to force students to attend to become assimilated white. Of the over 350 Indian Boarding Schools, here in our country, almost all, have cemeteries on their school grounds; as does the Residential Indian Schools in Canada! I am glad our government is finally investigating our Indian Boarding Schools. It is about time! Kudos to Marsha Small for working with ground penetrating radar in school cemeteries, finding unknown, unmarked graves. I am thankful to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland for having an investigation into our country’s Indian Boarding Schools. Kudos to Denise Lajimodiere and NABS and others who are working hard on this investigation. Recently, Arizona and Michigan have started investigations of Indian Boarding Schools in these two states. The hidden history of America’s Indian Boarding Schools will be shared. It is about time! Thank you for reading my blog. Sincerely, Roberta Capasso, Author-Sky Woman Lives in Me.

February 9th, 2022

It has been awhile, (months) since I last wrote on this blog site. I hope everyone is well and having a good 2022.

Yesterday, February 8th, 2022 was the sixth anniversary of my book, Sky Woman Lives in Me, being self-published through Lulu Press. I can’t believe my book has been out to readers six years already. But, today my book is still available and still very relevant. The US Government is currently investigating Indigenous Boarding Schools here in the United States, particularly the cemeteries on school grounds where many Indigenous Children died while attending these boarding schools. My book talks about the Carlisle Indian Industrial Boarding School, that started in 1879. I share my great grandmother’s experience as a student at Carlisle. I share my utter shock upon seeing a cemetery on the Carlisle School Grounds, filled with Indigenous students who died at Carlisle. Thankfully, my Great Grandmother, Sophia Huff, survived Carlisle. She shared how she was forced to chew lye soap for being caught talking her Oneida language! She was forced to scrub a floor, on her hands and knees, with a toothbrush, for again, being caught talking Oneida. She was also locked up in a dark closet for talking Oneida.

Above is a student group photo taken in March, 1892 on the Carlisle School Grounds. My Great-Grandmother is high lighted in the photo and also, a head shot of her, is shown in the lower left corner. My book, Sky Woman Lives in Me, is still available at 25% discount through Lulu Publishing. I hope you read it! Thank You! Sincerely, Roberta Capasso, Author. To contact me directly, go to bobbie@skywomanlivesinme.blog

SEPTEMBER 30, 2021

Dear Family and Friends,

Today is the NATIONAL DAY OF TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION. I honor this day by wearing an Orange shirt. Why am I wearing an Orange shirt? I add this story, below, as to why. Phyllis attended a Residential School in Canada. She did return home after her forced schooling.

Like Phyllis, My book: Sky Woman Lives in Me, published February 8, 2016, talks about my Great Grandmother, Sophia Huff and her sister, Lily Huff, being forced to attend a residential school here in the United States of America in 1891. They were two lucky Oneida Indigenous Children who didn’t die at the Carlisle Indian Industrial Boarding School. They were two lucky ones who were able to keep their language and returned home to the Oneida Indian Reservation, here in Wisconsin. But, like all Indigenous Children, forced to attend Boarding Schools, to become assimilate ‘white’; they suffered emotionally, through seeing their indigenous clothes burned, their hair made to look European or cut short, their bodies scrubbed and deloused. They were physically hit or locked up if they conversed in Oneida and they didn’t see their parents or family for years! Like all Indigenous children, Sophia and Lily were shamed for being Indians. To this day, I still cannot find out my Great Grandmother’s Oneida name. Her name was changed to an English name, Sophia. Any of her Oneida records are long gone, destroyed by our US government. Here is a photo of my book, available through Lulu Publishing at http://www.lulu.com.

Above is an Orange Shirt in honor of all Indigenous Children found buried in Canada and for all Indigenous Children buried, here in the United States of America, waiting to be found. We will find Indigenous Children’s bodies buried in our United States Boarding Schools, and “BRING THE CHILDREN HOME.” Thank you for reading my blog. Please share if you wish. Sincerely, Roberta Capasso