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704 Silver Street
Rapid City, South Dakota
April 9, 1948

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Chairman
Sub-Committee-Indian Affairs
Committee on Public Lands
House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.

Gentlemen:

I want to offer my support to the bill H.R. 5542 which provides for the use of the State course of study in schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  I cannot tell you how much this means to me and my people.  It has been a matter too long delayed as it is and this delay has prevented our children from enjoying the rights other children enjoy, that is an adequate education for their future needs.

It has been my personal experience as well as every Indian who ever attended an Indian school, that the course of study presented has prevented many of us from continuing in the fields we might have been interested in pursuing. It has been a stumbling block to all progressive thinking Indians and we realize it more today since the steady migration of Indians to cities and towns brings out the fact that our Indians are not prepared to compete with other groups. All facts that the Indian Bureau advocates our Indians could receive in colleges much better.  This disregard of denying the Indian proper education has prevented my people in many ways from entering the professions which would better their conditions and allow him to stand side by side with other groups with no apology for his race.  No one can tell just what a child will follow in later life, but we have no right to deny him the proper foundation to whatever course of study he may choose to follow.  All Indians are not farmers, all are not ranchers, and form the aspects of the facts today all are not meant to be loafers.  Why deny these the first Americans the one thing that is not denied any alien who comes to these shores, proper educational facilities. 

This bill would give the Indian by majority vote a chance to give their children proper educational foundations.  It would help to put them on a more of an equal basis both in their childhood and adult life and as any long range program of improving the standards of living today among all Indians is one of rehabilitation, the introduction of the State course of study in schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs would most certainly be a step forward. I know that the parents of all Indian children are most anxious to give their children the best, but at no time have they ever been consulted or their opinions solicited as to the education and care of their children. The impoverished conditions prevalent on the reservation today has prevented many of the parents from demanding better educational training, but since the Government agreed in treaties to educate, provide medical facilities, it is time for every Indian to get behind any movement that will train his children to gain the heights of any profession he may choose.  It is a known fact that we are lacking in professional Indians today and common knowledge among Indians that this method is a means whereby Indians will not fill key positions now occupied by white employees in the Indian Service and that the Indian will continue to be held in bondage with others doing their thinking. 

Again I stand behind this bill H.R. 5542 and any delay in this matter will be that the Bill of Rights must not mean a thing to Americans today.  

Respectfully submitted:

Eva J. Nichols  
 


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