American Indian Day Celebration

September 22, 1933 – Charles Eastman

As part of the festivities of an American Indian Day celebration on September 22, 1933 at the Century of Progress exposition at the Chicago World’s Fair, a medal was presented by the Indian Council Fire, a national fraternal Pan-Indian organization founded in 1923, “for the most distinguished achievement by an American Indian.”  From among more than 50 people considered for the honor, Dr. Eastman had the distinction of being selected the winner.  In announcing Eastman’s selection, the donor of the bronze medal stated, “Dr. Eastman’s achievement record covers a long career that has contributed much to his own race, as well as, to the paleface.”

Among the large audience listening to Eastman’s impressive achievements were William J. Kershaw, a Menominee and assistant U.S. attorney-general for Wisconsin; Dr. W. Carson Ryan Jr., director of Indian education for the U.S. Department of the Interior; Scott H. Peters, a Chippewa and president of the Indian Council Fire; and Arthur C. Parker, the Seneca ethnologist from New York.

In 1935, when the Indian Council Fire presented the award to Henry Roe Cloud, a Winnebago, who had graduated from Yale University, Eastman served on the selection committee.

Reference:  Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 22, 1933; Hertzberg, “The Search for an American Indian Identity,” pp. 231-33.