As a child Don Bartlette was kicked, beaten, tied to a tree, spit on, and isolated.
And that wasn't the worst part.
Being unloved within his own family, enduring the pain of a cleft palate and deformed nose, and hearing that education was beyond his comprehension nearly drove Bartlette to self-destruction.
Instead, Bartlette, now an educator, counselor and Native American activist, turned his life around by talking about his problems and trying to help others in similar situations.
``I think many of you have been on my journey,'' Bartlette told Haskell Indian Nations University students at the Fall 1998 convocation on Tuesday.
Bartlette, who holds a doctorate and has worked as a social worker, encouraged students to take their education seriously and devote themselves to their studies.
``I challenge you to remember that it was education that helped me survive in this world,'' he said.
Bartlette said he was so impressed with the students and faculty of Haskell that he has pledged to use his contacts and resources to help the university both with fund raising and with his time.
``I hope to serve on an advisory committee or to be nominated for the Haskell Foundation,'' he said. ``These are my people, and I value higher education for all people.''
Haskell president Bob Martin addressed students and likened them to Navajo warriors. He called on them to have ``vision, compassion, courage and endurance'' as warriors do.
``How can we show vision, compassion, courage, and endurance?'' he said. ``I believe it means we have to respect each other, while retaining our tribal identities.''
Martin told students they would need to rely on each other and others throughout the school year.
-- JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.