Charles Curtis: Remember the Native American who was the first person of color to hold the office of Vice President of the United States

In 1928, Charles Curtis – a Native American legislator and member of the Cau Nation – was elected Vice President Herbert Hoover.

Curtis To grow In North Topeka, Kansas, where he was born to a white father and an Indian mother from Kau a quarter of her. He was the great-grandson of White Plume, one of Kaw’s superiors known for aiding the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804, according to U.S. congress.

Much of his childhood was spent living with his maternal grandparents on Cau Preserve in Council Grove, Kansas. Even Curtis He spoke Kansa, the Siwan language of the Great Plains, before he learned English.

His ability to speak Kansa allowed him to blend in comfortably with the tribe, according to the US Senate website. He also learned to ride ponies and eventually became a prof The winning knight.

While Curtis hoped to continue living on reserves with his grandmother, she encouraged the young teenager to return to Topeka to continue his education.

“I took her wonderful advice and the next morning when the wagons pulled south, heading towards Indian territory, I rode my pony with my luggage in a bag of flour and went back to Topeka and the school,” Curtis He said. “No man or boy has ever received better advice. It was the turning point in my life.”

Returning to Topeka, Curtis became a lawyer and later turned his attention to politics. In 1892, Curtis was elected to the US Congress, serving in the House and Senate. As a Senator, he was the Republican whip, and was instrumental in preventing Woodrow Wilson from joining the United States into the League of Nations. In 1928, he lost his bid to run for president to Herbert Hoover, who had nominated him for vice president.

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During his time as a member of Congress, Curtis was best known for his sponsorship of the “Indian Territory People Protection and Other Purposes Act”, also known as the Curtis Act of 1898, which did little to protect Indian lands.

While the law allowed tribal members to vote and establish public schools on tribal lands, it also helped disintegrate the Indian peoples, according to Oklahoma Historical Society.

Some Indian tribal governments and lands were dismantled as a result of this act, which nullified many treaty rights “by allocating federal land, abolishing tribal courts, and giving the Home Office control over mineral leases on Indian soil,” according to the US Senate. website.

Another milestone for people of color

As Curtis made history as the first person of color to become Vice President, Harris breaks her own barriers.

Throughout the United States, women have been fighting for equal rights and representation in American life for centuries. With Harris being elected, a woman now reached the nation’s second-highest political office.

Saturday evening, during her first speech as Vice President-elect, Harris Note the historical moment.

“I might be the first woman in this office, but I won’t be the last,” she said in Wilmington, Delaware.

“Because every little girl who watches tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities, and for the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourself in a way that others may not do, just because they did not see it from Before. But know that we will applaud you every step of the way. “

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Correction: An earlier version of this story missed the year Charles Curtis ran for president. That was 1928.

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