Native Quotes And Brilliance

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Cherokee Native American Indian Ruth Muskrat & President Calvin Coolidge, 1923


Ruth Muskrat Bronson, Cherokee specialist in American Indian affairs and former executive secretary of the National Congress of American Indians and in 1944 she published "Indians are people too".

"[We need] get the Indians to think and act for themselves and not let a government, however beneficent, think for them...we must stop trying to make Indian communities into little replicas of our own..."

Ruth's Early Years:
Born the daughter of a full blood Cherokee father and an Irish mother on October 3rd, 1897 in Grove Oklahoma, Ruth attended high school in her home town and then the University of Oklahoma. In 1923 she received a full scholarship to Mount Holyoke College and entered with advance standing as a junior. Before her entrance at Mount Holyoke she had already expressed interest in Indian race solidarity with her involvement in the 1922 World’s Student Christian Federation Conference in Peking. During her visit to Peking she distinguished herself as the first American Indian to represent at a world conference, an enormous accomplishment for her time.

Construction of a Unique Identity: Ruth had a strong Christian faith as well as a strong commitment to her own cultural heritage, which she carried with her to South Hadley. The complex conflict of dueling identities within her person helped her to gather support for her efforts in education and her interest in the rebirth of her own Cherokee culture. Ruth carefully constructed an image that allowed her to appreciate the opportunities that white assimilation had offered her, such as religion and education, while at the same time reject notions of complete cultural assimilation which would strip her of her language, dress and heritage.

After nearly fifteen years in this work, she opened the Washington Bureau of the National Congress of American Indians, for which, as a volunteer, she served at various times as executive director, editor of its bulletin, treasurer, lobbyist, and delegation coordinator. She fought vigorously for Indians' land claims, in­cluding water, mining, and timber rights, and was one of three original trustees of the non-profit educational organization ARROW. Inc. (Americans for the Res­titution and Righting of Old Wrongs) in the constant battle against injustices. Her book, Indians Are People Too, was widely used as a textbook.

Ruth Muskrat Bronson, a specialist in American Indian affairs and a former executive secretary of the National Congress of American Indians, died June 12, 1981 at a nursing home in Tucson, Ariz. She was 84 years old and lived in Tucson.

Cherokee Female Seminary & Mount Holyoke from the Mount Holyoke website:

Connection Through Time

1826: Massachusetts' Reverends Samuel Worcester and Elizur Butler begin their missionary work with the Cherokees in Georgia

1837: Mount Holyoke College founded in South Hadley, Massachusetts by Mary Lyon

1838-1839: Indian Removal actualized with Trail of Tears and relocation of Cherokee Nation to Indian Territory in Oklahoma- Worcester, Butler and their children travel with the Cherokees

1847: Cornerstones of the Cherokee Female Seminary are laid at Park Hill Mission Station

1850: Chief Will Ross and David Vann tour Mount Holyoke Female Seminary

1851: Cherokee Female Seminary is opened for students by Mount Holyoke College graduates Sarah Worcester and Ellen Whitmore

1861: Cherokee Female Seminary closes at the start of the American Civil War

1873: Cherokee Female Seminary reopens under the leadership of Mount Holyoke graduate Ella Noyes

1887: Cherokee Female Seminary burns and plans are made for reconstruction

1989: Cherokee Female Seminary is rebuilt in Tahlequah, a few miles from Park Hill, at the heart of the Cherokee Nation

1896: Mount Holyoke Seminary burns and is rebuilt, beginning its progression towards college standing

1907: Oklahoma achieves statehood and buys up the seminary building and the surrounding land to become a part of Northeastern State University

1923: Ruth Muskrat, a Cherokee Indian, enters Mount Holyoke College and later presents Red Man in the United States to U.S. President Calvin Coolidge

1925: Ruth Muskrat graduates Mount Holyoke College

1926: Ruth Muskrat takes a position at Haskell Institute (an Indian high school in Kansas) as an English teacher

1950: Ruth Muskrat Bronson (after marriage and raising a daughter) takes a position with the Bureau of Indian Affairs for twelve years and receives several awards for her educational and social work

1982: Ruth Muskrat Bronson dies at the age of 84

1985: Wilma Mankiller is elected and sworn in as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation

1987: Wilma Mankiller comes to Mount Holyoke College to talk as a part of the college's "Women in Charge: Public and Private Faces" series

1989: Wilma Mankiller speaks at the 100th anniversary of the Cherokee Female Seminary's Seminary Hall in Tahlequah, Oklahoma

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Comment by Charlotte..aka..Booyah on April 18, 2012 at 2:15am

Ruth Muskrat was way ahead of her time. Such great accomplishments for a women even in those hard times. Amazing bio and amazing woman! Great post!

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