|Starting in 1922, Raleigh Evertte Barker served the residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation for 47 years as interpreter, storekeeper, bookkeeper, friend and in various other capacities. He was trusted as a financial adviser, insurance representative, postmaster and businessman. He kept business hours six days a week, longer during harvest and planting, and still found time to teach Sunday school and give a sermon on Sunday. Some of his experiences are published in his book Tales from a Reservation Storekeeper, and in My Lakota Friends.
Before moving to SD, Barker entered Nebraska Wesleyan University after graduating from high school. A downturn in family income and the advent of WWI made it possible for him to attend only three semesters of college, though his love for learning continued. <p>Barker completed a short tour of military duty, then moved back to the Gordon area to work for the local newspaper. Raleigh married Mary Jane Boyd. The couple had two sons and one daughter. <p>A few years after marrying in 1921, the young couple took over the family business in Denby, SD. Most transactions at the store were either by barter or credit. Barker took the time to counsel customers on budgeting and buying, and by doing so, kept his credit losses to 2%. <p>The store, known as A. Barker and Son, provided many needed services for area residents. For many years, it had the only telephone in the area and one of the few radios. It also housed the post office and provided notary services. <p>Through the Barker's services to others, they provided a link to the outside world in an otherwise desolate area. With no local church nearby, Raleigh Barker even held Sunday services, teaching Sunday School and preaching a sermon afterward.
|Home Town (Denby, SD)|