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Albert Simpson

5/11/2017:

In 1934, Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act. The bill intended to decrease federal control of Indian reservations and give them more autonomy. In 1936 in North Dakota, the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara came together to form their own constitution, creating the Three Affiliated Tribes.

The tribes had already been operating under a representative form of government established in 1910, with members of each tribe serving on a business committee. Prior to that, each village had individual leaders, and decisions were made by village consensus. With the new constitution, the old business committee was replaced by a tribal council.

One of the men who would become an early leader in the new system was Albert Simpson. Born in 1888, he came from a family with long experience in the controversial Indian boarding schools. His father and uncle were two of the nine students from Fort Berthold to first attend Hampton Institute, a boarding school in Virginia, which provided basic education for Native Americans. Simpson’s experience in the system started with 5 years at the Fort Stevenson government boarding school. From there, it was Fort Berthold for two more years before he followed in his father’s and uncle’s footsteps, attending Hampton, where he spent three years. He finished his primary education in 1907 at Carlisle School in Pennsylvania and immediately enrolled in the business department of Haskell Institute in Kansas.

In 1909 he moved back to Elbowoods, North Dakota. He was appointed postmaster in 1911 and became a blacksmith and store owner. Simpson and his wife Ella he had a keen interest in traditional Arikara life – its religion, doctoring and social activities. A strong member of the community, Simpson served on the Tribal Business Council from 1940 to 1942.

Today we remember Albert Simpson, who passed away on this date in 1957.

Dakota Datebook written by Lucid Thomas

Sources

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