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Listening to Indians Research Guide

A guide to the oral history collection of interviews with American Indian people conducted by Samuel I. Myers, Jr., history professor at St. Louis Community College - Florissant Valley during his sabbatical semester, Fall 1975.

Personal background on Sam Myers (1913-1978) provided by his daughter, Kathleen Myers Owen

Sam Myers had a passion for learning; no matter what the subject area, he would delve in-depth to learn all he could.  Also, he had a passion for and commitment to the integrity of the individual which was evident in the respect he demonstrated for all humanity.  The value he placed on human dignity was one of his highest virtues.

Sam grew up in Park Rapids, Minnesota and graduated from public high school there in 1932.  He and his wife, Helen, returned to the area in the 1940s as a family.  He was an owner of a thriving business and president of the Park Rapids School Board. 

We get a glimpse of Myers' background in his interview with Joan Turney #17. 

Sam Myers: So your experience in high school in Park Rapids wasn’t the best?

Joan Turney: No, it wasn’t. We didn’t have the clothes that most of the other students – the white students – had.  They made fun of us, and we felt very uncomfortable in their surroundings.

Sam Myers: This really kind of surprises me, because I grew up in that same school [Park Rapids Area High School, Park Rapids, MN]. I don’t remember it being like that.  But maybe I was blind, too.

After putting his three children through college, he decided to acquire a college degree for himself.  Myers earned a bachelor’s degree from Bemidji State University (1967) and a master’s degree from Arizona State University (1968). [According to the College Catalog of 1975-76, Sam later did post-graduate work at ASU and Southern Illinois University--Carbondale.]

Immediately after graduating from ASU, Myers was invited to become a professor of American History at the St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley in the St. Louis, Missouri, area.  He taught at “Flo Valley” for the next ten years where his office door was always open to his students for assistance and advice.

Myers conducted many interviews with Native Americans during the 1960s and 1970s around the United States gathering their sincere and thoughtful perspectives about their ideas, authentic cultural traditions and heritage.  This led to the sabbatical project which became known as “Listening to Indians.”

1973 Brown Bag

Black and white image of Myers at a lectern


Eulogy by Dr. Myron Marty

Florissant Valley Forum, June 22, 1978

Burial at Greenwood Cemetery, Park Rapids, Minnesota

St. Louis Community College Libraries

Florissant Valley Campus Library
3400 Pershall Rd.
Ferguson, MO 63135-1408
Phone: 314-513-4514

Forest Park Campus Library
5600 Oakland
St. Louis, MO 63110-1316
Phone: 314-644-9210

Meramec Campus Library
11333 Big Bend Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-5720
Phone: 314-984-7797

Wildwood Campus Library
2645 Generations Drive
Wildwood, MO 63040-1168
Phone: 636-422-2000