The Golden Potlatch parade in 1912 featured a Native American canoe float. (Photo courtesy University of Washington Digital Collections)

100 Years Ago in Indian Country


In 1912…

Jim Thorpe, Sac and Fox, won the gold medal in both the pentathlon and decathlon at the Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. Headlines from that year included: “Indian Thorpe in Olympiad: Redskin from Carlisle Will Strive for Place on American Team,” The New York Times, April 28, 1912 and “Indian Thorpe is Best Athlete — Olympic Champion Wins All-Around Championship and Breaks Record,” The New York Times, Sept 3, 1912.

The Supreme Court case, Choate v. Trapp decided that Choctaw and Chickasaw Indian allottees in Oklahoma were exempt from state taxation.

Elwha hydroelectric dam in Washington state was built, 99 years later in September 2011 demolition of the dam began. (see video below).

A series of wax cylinder recordings was completed with Ishi, who was dubbed “the last wild Indian” when he appeared in Oroville, California the year before, in 1911.

The American Bison Society decided the prairie habitat surrounding Wind Cave National park was perfect to reestablish a bison herd.

The life expectancy for men was 48 and for women, 51.

Congress admitted New Mexico as the 47th state in the union on January 6 and the Navajo Fair at Shiprock had an estimated $20,000 of Navajo blankets shown.

Arizona was the 48th state to be admitted to the union on February 14. On July 19, the town of Holbrook witnessed a meteor explosion that sent 16,000 individual meteorites flying, pieces of which can still be found in the area.

The Ak-Chin Indian Community was formally established in May.

Alaska became a territory as a result of the Organic Act of 1912, giving it representation in the federal government through a congressional delegate.

The U.S. Public Health Service assigned Dr. Emil Krulish to supervise health care in the Territory of Alaska.

Long Lance, Lumbee, addressed the graduating class at Carlisle Indian School: “When we have gone through, for the last time as students, the brick portals of this institution, into the great world of competition, we do not wish to be designated as Cherokees, Sioux, or Pawnees, but we wish to be known as Carlisle Indians, belonging to that great universal tribe of North American Indians, speaking the same language and having the same chief—the great White Father at Washington.”

The leading causes of death were organic diseases of the heart, tuberculosis of the lungs, acute nephritis and Bright’s disease, pneumonia, cancer, cerebral hemorrhage, congenital debility and malformations, and diarrhea and enteritis.

Milk was 32 cents a gallon.

The eye disease trachoma infected 22.7 percent of Native Americans, about 72,000 people. The infection rate was as high as one-third of Indians on reservations in Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, and one-half of Indian students in some boarding schools. If left untreated, trachoma progressed to blindness.

Twelve Alaska Native men and one woman created the Alaska Native Brotherhood to preserve traditions, fight injustices suffered by the Native peoples of Alaska.

The volcano Novarupta erupted, destroying the Alaska Native village of Savonoski.

$1 then is worth $23.36 in today’s dollars.

William Scoville, a pharmacist, developed the first modern technique to measure a pepper’s bite—the Scoville scale.

Great Britain addressed the Six Nations people saying: “… The Documents, Records, and Treaties between the British Governors in former times, and your wise Forefathers, of which, in consequence of your request, authentic copies are now transmitted to you, all establish the Freedom and Independency of your Nations.”

The Golden Potlatch parade in Seattle, Washington featured a Native American canoe float.

North American Indians of the Plains, a book by Clark Wissler, was published by the American Museum of Natural History.

President William Howard Taft had this to say about Native American tribes to the Senate and House of Representatives in his Fourth Annual Message: “Another function which the Interior Department has to perform is that of the guardianship of Indians. In spite of everything which has been said in criticism of the policy of our Government toward the Indians, the amount of wealth which is now held by it for these wards per capita shows that the Government has been generous; but the management of so large an estate, with the great variety of circumstances that surround each tribe and each case, calls for the exercise of the highest business discretion, and the machinery provided in the Indian Bureau for the discharge of this function is entirely inadequate. The position of Indian commissioner demands the exercise of business ability of the first order, and it is difficult to secure such talent for the salary provided. The condition of health of the Indian and the prevalence in the tribes of curable diseases has been exploited recently in the press. In a message to Congress at its last session I brought this subject to its attention and invited a special appropriation, in order that our facilities for overcoming diseases among the Indians might be properly increased, but no action was then taken by Congress on the subject, nor has such appropriation been made since.”

Taft restored the Hupa Reservation in California, most of which had been given to Trinity National Forest by President Theodore Roosevelt.

The Chinook received $20,000 from Congress for the loss of their aboriginal lands in Washington. Also, to satisfy land claims from their ungratified 1851 treaty, Congress awarded the Clatsop $16,500 and the Wahkiakum $7,000.

Legislation to free the Apache at Fort Sill in Oklahoma from their prisoner of war status and move them to the Mescalero Apache reservation in New Mexico was introduced in Congress.

The Department of the Interior took a stand on hunting in Glacier National Park, saying “No person, whether Indian or white man, has the right to hunt or kill game on any government or [park] lands,” even though the BIA contended that the Blackfeet Tribe had the right to hunt and fish.

User wisgriz pointed out that 100 years ago Native Americans weren't American citizens yet. This is true, some were recognized as citizens by state governments sooner, but not until the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 were Native Americans granted United States citizenship.

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page



wisgriz's picture
Submitted by wisgriz on
This article is great but the author forgets the most important matter. Our forefather's weren't American Citizen's yet. The boarding schools, clinics, etc, were the process for our forefathers to become American Citizens. Blacks already obtained their American Citizenship as well as Hispanics then Puerto Ricans in 1917. Don't overlook this important of information. WisGriz