Deidre Prevett: American Dreams in Muscogee Nation

In this clip from American Creed, Deidre Prevett, a Tulsa elementary school principal, reflects on her family's history and the responsibility she feels toward her students and the community.

Transcript (Text)

Good morning. How are you? I hear that. We lost that hour of sleep. Good morning. Good morning.

For me, what it means to be an American is that we get to enjoy freedom. But with freedom comes great responsibility.

It's cold.

I've been principal at Lindbergh now for six years, and I can't think of any place else I would rather be. The kids that we get to work with are wonderful, and I want to make sure that they feel loved. And so we're giving them the best education they can get. So I'm living my American dream, that's to be an educator.

Hey, Gregory. How long are we going to let this grow?

Until it stops growing.

Ugh, forever then? Have a good day.

In the mornings, I think it's important that I'm visible, that the parents see me. And even if it's just a wave every morning, that's just one step in building our community.

[BELL RINGING]

Today we're going to talk about the early Native American tribes in Oklahoma. We're going to make a map similar to the one that we made with our regions. You guys remember when we did that? OK, we're going to make one similar to that, only it's going to be about the Native American tribes, the early ones.

Oklahoma is a land of Native Americans. I'm Creek Indian. This is located in Creek Nation, and so it's fun to get to see the Native Americans that come through the door. While we are a melting pot, we can't forget where we've come from, and we all need to learn about each other's history.

The connection between my family history and where I'm at today is I'm a fifth-generation educator. My dad was a math teacher, and my grandmother was a teacher also. Even my great-great-grandfather, Moty Tiger was his name, he was also a teacher. So education I guess has always been in my blood.

The message was that education is the key to success and to better yourself. But in the instance of my grandmother, her family also happened to have good luck. They were able to at least maintain some land in Indian Territory. They weren't forced off of that land like a lot of Native Americans were. And then their land happened to have oil on it, and that financed a lot of their education. So they weren't forced to live in poverty like a lot of Native Americans were. What I'm doing now is kind of like paying it forward.

What does it mean whenever you hear the word American? Just the word American, what do you think that means?

I think it means freedom.

OK. What does it mean to be free?

I think freedom means they cannot boss you around.

They can't boss you around, OK.

When I look at my childhood, I was very, very fortunate. And a lot of my kids, their families have to rely on welfare. A lot of my kids, one or both parents are incarcerated. I've got a lot of kids in foster care. But we want to encourage our students and let them know that they can go on. They can do whatever they want.

What does it mean to you, Nadir, whenever you hear the word American?

That you're free to decide who you want to become.

You are free to decide who you want to become. You're absolutely right. As long as you're willing to put in the work, you can be it, OK?

Happy. Right.

We have some students now that have been to a different elementary school every two months.

Expensive.

Their families go where the jobs are, or they go where rent is the cheapest. A lot of times when the kids come in, they're not at the reading level they should be. It's our job to get them there, but that takes more than just a nine-month period. We just play it like they're going to be here for the long haul. And some of the kids we see come back, and some we never see again. But I refuse to believe that these kids won't be better off in their future for what we're doing now. I don't want to think that they can't be.

[BELL RINGING]

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