Federated Indians of California, Parade Float, California Centennial Celebration, c. 1948
Marie Potts (seated 3rd from left), American Indian Press Association meeting c. 1971

current research

I am exploring the relationship between the political mobilization fostered by mid-20th century California Indian land claims (filed under both the California Indians Jurisdicational Act of 1928 & the Indian Claims Commission Act of 1946) and the revitalization of Native American identities, communities, and expressive arts among urban, landless Indians in Northern and Central California.

One strand of my research examines the cultural performances and exhibits sponsored by the Federated Indians of California (FIC). A pan-California Indian organization (1946-1978), the FIC formed for the express purpose of pressing a land claims case against the federal government before the Indian Claims Commission. I am writing, in particular, about the life histories and shared experiences of two women, Marie Potts (Mountain Maidu) and Winnifred R. Codman (pioneer settler of Fair Oaks, CA); together, they organized the first publicity events of the Federated Indians of California. Typically featuring dance performances, parade floats, and exhibits of basketry and other native crafts, early exhibit venues included the California State Fair (1950-ca. 1968), as well as several California State Centennial celebrations throughout the Central Valley and Mother Lode (1947-1950). A related vein of research examines Frederic A. Baker's career with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the sociopolitical milieu that helped to shape his work and personal politics as the field and enrolling agent who generated the 1933 Roll of California Indians.

a few related links.....

  • Marie Potts (1895-1978, Mountain [or Northern] Maidu) graduate of the Greenville Indian School, Plumas County, CA., and the Carlisle Indian Industrial School; editor of The Smoke Signal newspaper; national and regional activist and cultural consultant.
  • Winnifred R. Codman (1894-1991) of Fair Oaks, CA., social  worker and reformer; chairman (1930s) of the DAR Indian Citizenship Committee; BIA fieldworker/photographer (1934-1938); correspondent (1937-1950s) of Smithsonian linguist J.P. Harrington; friend & patron (1928-1950s) of Auburn Rancheria.
  • A Tribute to Marie Potts: Editor, Author, and Activist, co-hosted by the Anthropology Museum & D-QU Tribal College for the 16th annual California Indian Conference and Gathering, Oct. 12, 2001, California State University, Sacramento.

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