You are visiting a Virtual Museum that honors all
Native American cultures and traditions

Location: The Internet

BIA_Occupation

 

The Museum's mission is to advance and share the experience and knowledge of what has happened in the past and what this has meant for Native peoples today; to preserve the memory of those who died or suffered; to offer comfort, support, encouragement and understanding; and to encourage its visitors to reflect upon the need for dignity of and respect among all peoples.

You are invited to explore this Virtual Museum at your leisure and visit us frequently.


Top of Page 

Addendum to Duane T. Bird Bear Biography

On March 14, 1970, American Indian activists occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs (“BIA”) Plant Management Engineering Center (“PMEC”) in Littleton, Colorado, located at 1100 West Littleton Boulevard, which is in the Denver metropolitan area, protesting against anti-Indian employment practices by the BIA.

The Indian group of PMEC employees, consisting of fourteen of seventeen Native American employees at the PMEC, claimed that the BIA gave preference to non-Indians in hiring and promotions. According to the group, the PMEC was “run like a private refuge where non-Indian employees can draw enormous salaries and gain unreasonable privileges while paying only lip-service to their duty to the impoverished Indian people it serves and to the qualified Indians it employs.

 

Despite the BIA’s mandate to give preference to Indian employees, non-Indians occupied the better-paying jobs and higher positions at the PMEC.  According to the formal complaint filed on March 12, 1970, only 17 of 119 employees at the PMEC were Indians, despite the provision of Indian preference in hiring. Fourteen of those 17 Indian employees earned between $4,300 and $7,100 annually (GS 4 and below), and only one Indian employee made over $10,000 per year. On the other hand, non-Indian employees occupied all the higher positions (GS 12 and above), and none of the non-Indian employees earned less than $6,800.  The Indian employees further asserted that the PMEC officials’ unwillingness to offer training opportunities to Indian employees halted their career advancement.  

 

Twelve Indian employees at the PMEC (known as the “Littleton Twelve”) signed the complaints and sent them to Edward E. Shelton, director of the Interior Department’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, and BIA Commissioner Louis R. Bruce.  The PMEC employees who signed the complaints were Phyllis Culbertson, Corrine Dumarce Deal, Toni Guerue, Fray LaForge, Carson Sine, Robert Henderson, Patricia Feathers, Vaughn Arkie, Enola Freeman, Eileen Hickman, Katherine Sherman, and Glenda Tom.

Approximately fifty Indian protesters supporting the Littleton Twelve presented their complaints to Commissioner Bruce in a two-hour meeting. The Indian protestors also requested Commissioner Bruce to dismiss top officials at the PMEC. After negotiating with the Indian protestors, Commissioner Bruce temporarily suspended three officials: Charles McCrea, Chief Official; Stuart C. Edmonds, Assistant Chief; and Leona L. Morris, Administrative Assistant.

 

Nine members of the group that occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs PMEC office in Littleton, Colorado building were arrested and charged with trespassing and interference based on a complaint filed by Charles McCrea.  They included Patty Baker (Mandan-Blackfoot), Lynda Bernal (Taos Pueblo), James Jones (Cherokee), John Gill (Sioux), Rick Buckanaga (Sioux), Virginia Reeves (Navajo), Linda Benson (Sac and Fox), Madelyn Boyer (Shoshone-Bannock) and Duane Bird Bear (Mandan-Hidatsa). All of them were tried in Arapahoe County Court on June 23, 1970 and acquitted.

The media quoted Duane in March 1970: “What is at stake everywhere is local control of the community. This means schools, economic development, youth programs, adult vocational programs and special services. These should all be reviewed by the various Indian organizations, instead of just by BIA administrators. Do you realize that, in the top 35 administrative positions for BIA in Washington, all but a few are Anglos? These are people pulling down $18,000 to $24,000 a year to tell Indians how they should live their lives. These people have got to be from Indian communities – and we aren’t going to stand for it being otherwise, anymore.”

In the continuing protest and occupation, six more protesters were arrested and carried out of the building on stretchers.  They were tried and convicted of trespassing.  The six were Harry and Geraldine Buckanaga, Bruce Davies, Gerald Gill, Brenda Grant and Darlene Cuthair.

The two separate occupations in Littleton resulted in the arrest of 15 Natives, and sparked a country-wide chain reaction: 23 arrests occurred in Chicago, Illinois; 12 in Alameda, California; 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota; and 30 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. BIA offices in Cleveland, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Albuquerque become scenes of Indian protests.

 

In February 1972, a year after the PMEC workers filed their complaints, Enola E. Freeman, one of the complainants, instituted a suit against Secretary of the Interior C. B. Morton, BIA Commissioner Bruce, and PMEC Chief Peter M. Martin. The group was represented by Denver attorney Harris D. Sherman. The charge involved the BIA’s earlier failure to implement Indian preference in hiring, training, and promotion. Freeman filed suit on behalf of herself and all other Indian employees who suffered from a similar situation. The class action suit stated that 73 percent of all Indian workers at the BIA held positions at GS 5 or lower. Jobs at this rating were mainly clerical, while supervisory positions were at a level of GS 10 or above. Of all non-Indian employees at the BIA, approximately 81 percent were at GS 6 or above. This reality suggested that the Interior Department and the BIA failed to follow the Equal Employment Opportunity Program, which called for promotional opportunities and training for Indians and other minority workers. It also demonstrated that the BIA failed to keep the promise it made just one year before.

 

Complaints of discrimination within the BIA and succeeding protests met with favorable legislative action and court decisions. On June 26, 1972, Commissioner Bruce, with the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, issued a directive requiring the BIA to give preference to qualified Indians, not only in initial appointments, but also in reinstatements and promotions.

 

This new policy stated that “where two or more candidates who meet the established qualification requirements are available for filling a vacancy, if one of them is an Indian, he shall be given preference in filling the vacancy.”

 

Commissioner Bruce supported the extension of Indian preference policy because he believed the policy would “basically be a means of enhancing opportunities for Indians in the operation and management of the Bureau’s program, a goal which is consistent with President Nixon’s announced policy of increased self-determination in Federal and local matters affecting Indian people.”

 

The court decision in Enola E. Freeman’s case supported an expanded policy of Indian preference in the BIA. On December 21, 1972, the District Court for the District of Columbia agreed to the concept of Indian preference defined by Freeman. The plaintiff argued that Indian preference upheld in the IRA implied that “a minimally qualified Indian must be hired even though there may be available a more capable, better qualified non-Indian applicant for the position.” The Freeman case, in which BIA Indian employees tested the limits of Indian preference, led the Washington, D.C. District Court to order:

 

All initial hirings, promotions, lateral transfers and reassignments in the Bureau of Indian Affairs . . . , however created, be declared governed by [the IRA] which requires that preference be afforded qualified Indian candidates; and . . . the plaintiff’s motion for a declaration that the filling of vacancies in training programs . . . is also governed by the same preference statute be denied.

 

Now Indian employees in the BIA could achieve preference in promotions or in filling any vacancies within the Bureau, in addition to initial hiring. The court rejected preference for participation in training programs. Nonetheless, the court decision became a major step for Indian self—determination in the BIA.

 

Excerpts from The Japanese Journal of American Studies, No. 22 (2011)

The Fight for Indian Employment Preference in the Bureau of Indian Affairs: Red Power Activism in Denver, Colorado, and Morton v. Mancari, Azusa Ono

LINK


 

http://transcriptions-2008.english.ucsb.edu/archive/topics/weaving-webs/images/bia-sit-in.jpg

American Indian activists led by Duane Bird Bear and Bruce Davies march in front of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Plant Management Engineering Center (PMEC) in Littleton, Colorado, located at 1100 West Littleton Boulevard, which is in the Denver metropolitan area, protesting against anti-Indian employment practices.

 Top of Page 


MAR 19 1970, MAR 20 1970; Indians Used An Old The Chain To Keep Everyone Else Out Of Littleton Bureau Of Indian Affairs Office Thursday; Peering out the door is Mrs. Sue Kulch, one of the occupiers of the office at 1100 W. Littleton Blvd. Both office entrances were closed.; Protesters Expect Arrest; Indians Continue BIA Center Lock-in; 

The-front-door-of-the Bureau of Indian Affairs PMEC office in Littleton, Colorado is chained shut.  Mrs. Sue Kulch stands in doorway.


 

MAR 20 1970, MAR 22 1970; Indians*Demonstrations - Colorado; The front door of the Bureau of Indian Affairs office, 1100 W. Littleton Blvd., in Littleton, reflects - in signs and gestures - the attitude of the Indians in building as Indian Affairs Commissioner Louis Bruce approached.;

 

The-front-windows-of-the Bureau of Indian Affairs PMEC office in Littleton, Colorado with demonstration signs. Protesters signs and gestures reflect their attitude as Louis R. Bruce, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, approaches building.

MAR 20 1970, MAR 22 1970; Indians * Demonstrations - Colorado; Elderly Indian woman listens quietly while Louis R. Bruce, U.S. commissioner of Indian affairs, talks with 11 Indians who occupied Bureau of Indian Affairs office Wednesday afternoon, demanding to talk with Bruce.;

 

American Indian activists led by Duane Bird Bear and Bruce Davies occupy the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) PMEC office in Littleton, Colorado, protesting against anti-Indian employment practices.   Elderly Indian woman listens to telephone conversation between 11 Indians who have occupied the building and Louis Bruce, Commissioner of Indian Affairs.  Group demands meeting with Louis Bruce, Commissioner of Indian Affairs.


 

MAR 20 1970, MAR 22 1970; Indians * Demonstrations - Colorado; Dwight Damian Spotted Toil, 10-month-old Sioux Indian, listened quietly while his elders conversed with Indian commissioner.;

 

Dwight Damian Spotted Tail (10 month old Sioux) part of meeting with Louis Bruce, Commissioner of Indian Affairs.


 

MAR 20 1970, MAR 22 1970; Louis R. Bruce, U. S. commissioner of Indians affairs, signs papers Saturday afternoon suspending three Bureau of Indian Affairs employes at BIA office in Littleton.;

 

Louis R. Bruce, U.S. Commissioner of Indians Affairs, signs suspension order of 3 Bureau of Indian Affairs (“BIA”) employees who work at BIA PMEC office in Littleton, Colorado, Bruce temporarily suspended three officials there: Charles McCrea, Chief Official; Stuart C. Edmonds, Assistant Chief; and Leona L. Morris, Administrative Assistant.

MAR 16 1970, MAR 17 1970; A group of Indian pickets marches in front of the Littleton Office Building, a privately owned office building that houses the Bureau of Indian Affairs plant Management branch at 1100 W. Littleton Blvd. Pat Baker, 24, left front, a Blackfoot and member of the Call of the Council Drums, leads chanters.;

 

Indian protesters march in front of the-front -of-the Bureau of Indian Affairs PMEC office in Littleton, Colorado, led by Patty Baker, Mandan/Blackfoot Tribe.

 

MAR 20 1970, MAR 21 1970; Indians*Demonstrations - Colorado; A Group Of American Indians Protesting In Littleton Marches, Chants Burning in foreground is effigy representing U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs.;

 

Indian protesters march in front of the-front -of-the Bureau of Indian Affairs PMEC office in Littleton, Colorado.  They burned an effigy of Louis R. Bruce, Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

MAR 22 1970, MAR 23 1970; Bruce Davies, left, and Gerald Gill Speak to About 35 in Dians Picketing Indian Affairs Office in Littleton; Sunday's protest was over the jailing of nine of their number Saturday for earlier demonstration over alleged discrimination in BIA.; Littleton BIA Protest;

 

Bruce Davies and Gerald Gill speak to Indian protesters in front of the-front -of-the Bureau of Indian Affairs PMEC office in Littleton, Colorado, protesting arrest of nine members of group that occupied building who were charged with trespassing and interference based on a complaint filed by Charles McCrea.  They included Patty Baker (Mandan-Blackfoot), Lynda Bernal (Taos Pueblo), James Jones (Cherokee), John Gill (Sioux), Rick Buckanaga (Sioux), Virginia Reeves (Navajo), Linda Benson (Sac and Fox), Madelyn Boyer (Shoshone-Bannock) and Duane Bird Bear (Mandan-Hidatsa). All of them were tried in Arapahoe County Court on June 23, 1970 and acquitted.

The media quoted Duane in March 1970: “What is at stake everywhere is local control of the community. This means schools, economic development, youth programs, adult vocational programs and special services. These should all be reviewed by the various Indian organizations, instead of just by BIA administrators. Do you realize that, in the top 35 administrative positions for BIA in Washington, all but a few are Anglos? These are people pulling down $18,000 to $24,000 a year to tell Indians how they should live their lives. These people have got to be from Indian communities – and we aren’t going to stand for it being otherwise, anymore.”


 

MAR 23 1970, 3/26/1970; Bird-Bear, Duane; 

Duane Bird Bear

 MAR 20 1970, MAR 21 1970; Indians * Demonstrations; Duane Bird - Bear (talking); Duane Bird-Bear One Of Protest Leaders, Kneels At Desk And Shouts Into Telespeaker Unit; They told an assistant to BIA commissioner who telephoned from Washington that Indians will not be *****;

 

American Indian activists led by Duane Bird Bear and Bruce Davies occupy the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) PMEC office in Littleton, Colorado, protesting against anti-Indian employment practices.   Duane Bird Bear is on the telephone with Assistant to the BIA Commissioner in the Washington, D.C. office of the BIA.

 

APR 12 1970, APR 13 1970; Jane Fonda greets Duane Bird Bear, right, and Jack Rickards; Miss Fonda has joined several Indian protests. Rickards heads Denver moratorium.;

 

American Indian activists led by Duane Bird Bear and Bruce Davies occupy the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) PMEC office in Littleton, Colorado, protesting against anti-Indian employment practices.   Jane Fonda and Jack Rickards meet with Duane Bird Bear in support of the protest.

MAR 19 1970, MAR 23 1970; Indians * Demonstrations * Colorado; Left to right - James Jones, Bruce Davies, Jerold Wilkinson, Duane Bird-Bear;

 

American Indian activists led by Duane Bird Bear and Bruce Davies occupy the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) PMEC office in Littleton, Colorado, protesting against anti-Indian employment practices.   Left to right are James Jones, Bruce Davies, Jerold Wilkinson and Duane Bird Bear.


 

MAR 24 1970; Barney Old Coyote Asks Protesting Indians To Work With Him To Solve Problems; He's acting chief of operations at Bureau of Indian Affairs Littleton division of Plant Management Center.; Six More Arrests Made; Officers Use stretchers to *****; 

Barney Old Coyote, Acting Chief of Operations at Littleton BIA PMEC office, asks protesting Indians to work with him.  Six more protesters were arrested and carried out of building on stretchers.  Protesters include Patty Baker, Harry Buckanaga, Rachel Ashley and Mrs. Mercy Walker, Tillie Walker’s mother.  The six arrested were Harry and Geraldine Buckanaga, Bruce Davies, Gerald Gill, Brenda Grant and Darlene Cuthair.


 

MAR 16 1970, MAR 17 1970; Indians*Demonstrations - Colorado; The women were loudest in voicing their displeasure at BIA management. Two of the women, principals in day's action, are Miss Tillie Walker, second from left, a Mandan, and Miss Pat Baker, right rear, of Blackfoot tribe.; 

American Indian activists led by Duane Bird Bear and Bruce Davies occupy the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) PMEC office in Littleton, Colorado, protesting against anti-Indian employment practices.  Tillie Walker, Executive Director of United Scholarship Service, Mandan-Hidatsa, Lynda Bernal, Taos Pueblo, and Patty Baker, Mandan/Blackfoot were major players in the protest.  Lynda Bernal and Patty Baker were employees of the United Scholarship Service.

http://cache4.asset-cache.net/gc/161867682-bird-bear-duane-gettyimages.jpg?v=1&c=IWSAsset&k=2&d=GkZZ8bf5zL1ZiijUmxa7QRELp1XQcdb91Z4Tm68ISrJ9cser2vQvxUr8RANYSFNGRcnamBtxlqpqx%2B8Pj77lkg%3D%3D 

Duane Bird Bear

 

Top of Page  

MAR 18 1970, MAR 19 1970; Indians * Demonstrations - Colorado; Harold Iron Shield, 23, A Sioux, Sits At Charles R. McRae's Desk; The baby is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Duane Bird Bear. Duane Jr. is 3 months old.;

 

Harold-Iron-Shield, Sioux, sits-at-Charles-R.-McCrea’s (Chief Official, PMEC BIA Office) desk with D.J. Bird Bear (three month old son of Duane and Carol Bird Bear) in foreground.-

http://cache1.asset-cache.net/gc/162004238-robert-dumont-center-reports-to-a-group-of-gettyimages.jpg?v=1&c=IWSAsset&k=2&d=GkZZ8bf5zL1ZiijUmxa7QQHwtgLi3ZeX1wRxhtXtBlRKUCn%2BzRRUb8Ff9lEUQAQcvbdZBcjB8jPez7Dws5UzHw%3D%3D

 

Robert-Dumont-(center)-reports-to-a-group-of- American Indian activists led by Duane Bird Bear and Bruce Davies who occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) PMEC office in Littleton, Colorado, protesting against anti-Indian employment practices.

Dumont and William Freeman, left, a BIA official, were scheduled to meet with Harrison Loesch, Assistant Secretary of Interior, to discuss problems.


 

MAR 16 1970, MAR 17 1970; Indians*Demonstrations - Colorado; Indian representatives listen to a telephone conversation between Stuart C. Edmonds, foreground, acting director of the local branch, and BIA officials in Washington, D.C. Complainants also spoke to the officials via telespeaker device in Edmonds office.; 

Stuart C. Edmonds, Acting Director of local branch of BIA and BIA officials in Washington, DC, speak to-a-group-of- American Indian activists led by Duane Bird Bear and Bruce Davies who occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) PMEC office in Littleton, Colorado, protesting against anti-Indian employment practices.


 

 

MAR 23 1970, 3/26/1970; Barney Old Coyote.;

Barney Old Coyote, BIA.

MAR 20 1970, MAR 23 1970; Indians * Demonstrations * Colorado; 


 

MAR 22 1970, MAR 23 1970; Gerald Gill; Bruce Davies; Lead Marchus;

Gerald-Gill and Bruce-Davies-lead-march in support of American Indian activists who were arrested for occupying the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) PMEC office in Littleton, Colorado, protesting against anti-Indian employment practices.


 

http://cache4.asset-cache.net/gc/161984833-indians-demonstrationscolorado-4-brenda-gettyimages.jpg?v=1&c=IWSAsset&k=2&d=GkZZ8bf5zL1ZiijUmxa7QX0iWfdvF4kUx9NoqSkDUx%2Fn3lBe7Qj%2Fno884cAUFNwTaWEyQ%2FeexBnOOkxS%2BZrdGQ%3D%3D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brenda Mitchell marches in front of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Plant Management Engineering Center (PMEC) in Littleton, Colorado, located at 1100 West Littleton Boulevard, which is in the Denver metropolitan area, protesting against anti-Indian employment practices.


 

http://cache3.asset-cache.net/gc/161975838-wearing-indian-head-dresses-and-blankets-gettyimages.jpg?v=1&c=IWSAsset&k=2&d=GkZZ8bf5zL1ZiijUmxa7Qc7bAAEkryPuDv%2B7HiGTj9vl3bmCjxJ6WZX0GSx%2FhzQWGJZN3gmwxccGfDtm3f%2FCxw%3D%3D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wearing Indian head dresses and blankets, Vaughn Arkie, a Mohave, and Al Culbertson, a Sioux, arrive at the Federal Building, 20th & Stout Sts., carrying a red coffin shaped box.  They took part in picketing.

 

http://cache2.asset-cache.net/gc/162119519-harris-sherman-individuals-gettyimages.jpg?v=1&c=IWSAsset&k=2&d=GkZZ8bf5zL1ZiijUmxa7QWm%2BRzjtfQfhWzxqB2P1r0%2F%2BIPRcMLSYI9dI%2BoHJQk5g8uNDPNjtMtlzmgwPWwoCmQ%3D%3D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harris D. Sherman in 1975.

In February 1972, a year after the PMEC workers filed their complaints, Enola E. Freeman, one of the complainants, instituted a suit against Secretary of the Interior C. B. Morton, BIA Commissioner Bruce, and PMEC Chief Peter M. Martin. The group was represented by Denver attorney Harris D. Sherman.

 

http://cache1.asset-cache.net/gc/162032738-carrying-a-placard-with-a-picture-of-louis-r-gettyimages.jpg?v=1&c=IWSAsset&k=2&d=GkZZ8bf5zL1ZiijUmxa7QbSp6SlQLsqEctYjGzSyAQh8estKXg5zfltikeOO2SC%2Bu1BKgcRjWaV2cYDBld%2Fp0w%3D%3D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian activists march in front of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Plant Management Engineering Center (PMEC) in Littleton, Colorado, located at 1100 West Littleton Boulevard, which is in the Denver metropolitan area, protesting against anti-Indian employment practices.  Glenda Tom, one of the twelve Indian employees at the PMEC (known as the “Littleton Twelve”) who signed the complaints of discrimination and sent them to Edward E. Shelton, director of the Interior Department’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, and BIA Commissioner Louis R. Bruce, is in the photo (person on far left). 


Top of Page  

See Also:

 

http://www.indianz.com/News/2016/02/24/jenniferfalcon.jpg

 

 

Indianz.Com > Jennifer Falcon: Activists ended abuses at ...

www.indianz.com

A group of tribal members marches in front of the Littleton Office Building, a privately owned office building that houses the Bureau of Indian Affairs plant ...

 

Articles

 

 http://www.indianz.com/News/2016/020615.asp

 

 

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/03/09/shut-it-down-bia-abuses-and-littleton-12

 

Top of Page