California’s Native American community on Saturday celebrated the 100th anniversary of a state Supreme Court civil rights decision, Piper v. Big Pine School District (1924) 193 Cal. 664. A unanimous court ruled in favor of a 15-year-old Native American girl — Alice Piper — and her parents who were challenging the Big Pine School District’s refusal to admit her and other Native children to its new school. The District unsuccessfully insisted that she was required to attend a separate “Indian school” instead.

The commemorative event took place in Big Pine, located in Inyo County, east of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

I was honored to speak at the ceremony, representing the California Supreme Court Historical Society. I concluded my remarks with this, “There’s a saying that too many people must beat the odds and not enough people are working to change the odds. Well, the Piper family beat the odds in getting a favorable ruling from California’s highest court and, in beating the odds, they changed the odds for children throughout California and the United States.”

I wrote a column about the Piper case last week in the Daily Journal.

Video of the celebration is here.

A resolution making June 2, 2024, Alice Piper Day in California has passed the State Senate and is pending in the Assembly.


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