Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Coolidge Remembered As Bear Ribs

President Coolidge seen here with members of the Sicangu Lakota people.
Coolidge Recognized With Lakota Name
Standing Rock Sioux Call Him “Bear Ribs”
Edited by Dakota Goodhouse
Bismarck, N.D. (Bismarck Tribune, July 1927) – The following appeared in the Bismarck Tribune, summer 1927, when three tribal community members sent a letter to President Coolidge. These three later met the President in the Black Hills, August 1927, when he established summer camp near Spearfish, S.D.

President Coolidge has been adopted by an Indian tribe, which has given him the name Bear Ribs, meaning the Indian conception of the chief who originally bore that name as “a far seeing, progressive man.” Another honor bestowed upon the President is the gift of an Indian pipe and beaded tobacco bag. He intends to smoke the pipe, he said, although he does not enjoy pipe smoking.

News of the President’s adoption came to the White House in a letter signed by the committee of three Indians, living on the reservation near Fort Yates, N.D. as follows:

Hon. Calvin Coolidge
President of the United States,
Washington D.C.

Dear Mr. President:

The Indians of the Kenel District on this reservation at their local council desire to congratulate you upon your re-election and take pleasure in mailing you, under separate cover, a pipe and beaded tobacco bag.

Presidents in the past have done much in reference to the Indian and his destiny, but it remained for you to give to the Indian that citizenship which he hoped for through many years. We desire to express our heartfelt appreciation for the citizenship granted us, and also for the good judgement shown in protecting our property rights and by not turning them over to the Indians without supervision. To turn the property rights over without protection would have been a great misfortune to us.

For many years the Indian has doubted the government’s good intentions, but we now know that it had a definite purpose in view and that the government’s ultimate intention was to train us for citizenship.

Many years ago when trouble arose between the Indians and the soldiers under a white general we called White Beard, we fought the soldiers, but later there came peace between us. At that time Bear Ribs, a progressive chief of the Hunkpapas [Huŋkphápȟa], tried to teach us the white man’s way.

The Indians objected to learning this new way, and as a result Bear Ribs was finally murdered because of his progressive ideas.

We now know that Bear Ribs was right, and we honor his memory. Because Bear Ribs was a far-seeing, progressive man, we now give you the name Bear Ribs, by which you will be known to our tribe.

Very respectfully,
Antoine Claymore
Jovita Badger
Pius Shoots First