CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER

What Calvin Coolidge Didn’t Understand About Native Americans

Though He Was Adopted by the Lakota Nation, He Clung to a Paternalistic Mindset

During the summer of 1927, Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the United States, was formally adopted into the Lakota nation. The ceremonies took place in Deadwood, South Dakota, with the prominent Sicangu Lakota activist and teacher Chauncy Yellow Robe presiding. Yellow Robe’s daughter placed an eagle feather headdress, a potent symbol of Lakota culture, on Coolidge’s head. The tribe also gave Coolidge a Lakota name—Wanblí Tokáhe, or “Leading Eagle”—signifying his welcome into the Lakota nation. To the Lakota, the adoption was an assertion of their survival as a Native nation …

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