Courtesy of the Laws Railroad Museum & Historic Site, Bishop, California
Photo of the Owens Valley Paiute in front of their community center about the time of the Piper v. Big Pine School District case. Alice Piper is the first left in the back upper row; her father, Pike Piper, is the first left in the front row.

Native Girl Who Challenged Educational Boundaries to Be Honored


Who is Alice Piper? She is a woman who lived in Big Pine, California who did her part with the constitutional rights movement for Native Americans.

Alice Piper, among many others, wanted the same opportunity to learn as everyone else. She wanted to go to her local school, but was denied the same opportunity because of her race.

There was a Native American school in the Big Pine School District, but was smaller with different curriculum specialized for Native Americans. At the young age of 15, Alice Piper did not stand by waiting for someone else to change that, she took it upon herself to sue the school district for being unconstitutional in causing the children to go to a separate school.

The State Supreme Court ruled that the law was in violation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. As a result, Alice Piper and all other Native American children were allowed to attend the public school. Alice Piper and the Big Pine school district played a large role in the constitutional battle over Native Americans’ rights.


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