Monroe Burton Parker’s lawyer was the Indian lawyer

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This image of one of the Nez Perce tribal families shows the generational influences that motivated them to fight for their land and citizenship rights. These families traveled nearly 1,170 miles through the mountains and canyons of Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and Oregon during the spring and summer of 1877.

Here is a photo of Chief Wets of the Assinaboine tribe.  He joined Chief Joseph of the Wallowa Band of the Nez Perce and other tribal chiefs in fighting during the Nez Perce War of 1877 who tried to force these “untreated” ones to force them.  Indians to abandon their lands in the Pacific Northwest.

Here is a photo of Chief Wets of the Assinaboine tribe. He joined Chief Joseph of the Wallowa Band of the Nez Perce and other tribal chiefs in fighting during the Nez Perce War of 1877 who attempted to force these “untreated” Indians to abandon their lands in the North. western Pacific.

Chester A. Arthur & # x002013;  America & # x002019; s 21st President who served from 1881 to 1885. Arthur was an advocate for Indian education, private Indian land ownership, and state law enforcement on Indian reservations.

Chester A. Arthur – 21st President of the United States who served from 1881 to 1885. Arthur was an advocate for Indian education, private Indian land ownership, and state law enforcement on reservations Indian.

Burton Parker, circa 1870s Parker rose to the rank of colonel during the Civil War and served the citizens of Monroe as mayor, circuit court commissioner, and chairman of the Monroe school board before becoming Indian agent during the US presidential administration of Chester A. Arthur.

Burton Parker, circa 1870s Parker rose to the rank of colonel during the Civil War and served the citizens of Monroe as mayor, circuit court commissioner, and chairman of the Monroe school board before becoming Indian agent during the US presidential administration of Chester A. Arthur.

This is the cover image of the Winding Waters book;  The Story of a Long Trail and Strong Hearts, published in 1909 and relating the story of Nez Perce from an Indian perspective.  Author Bertha Frances Parker was Burton Parker's niece and was inspired by Burton Parker's work as an Indian agent to write.

This is the cover image of the Winding Waters book; The Story of a Long Trail and Strong Hearts, published in 1909 and relating the story of Nez Perce from an Indian perspective. Author Bertha Frances Parker was Burton Parker’s niece and took inspiration from Burton Parker’s work as an Indian agent to write.

Burton Parker, born April 25, 1844 in Dundee, Michigan, served during the Civil War and as a successful lawyer, mayor of Monroe and legislator of Michigan. Perhaps one of his most interesting appointments was his years as Indian Agent – appointed by President Chester A. Arthur in the fall of 1884, to the Fort Peck Agency, Montana. He was removed from office by new President Grover Cleveland in the winter of 1885-86.

According to Bulkley in the History of Monroe County, Michigan, Burton Parker and his father enlisted to serve in the Union ranks during the Civil War. They became members of Michigan Company F, First Regiment of Engineers and Mechanics, and his father being the company’s first sergeant. They were in the Kentucky Campaign of 1861 and 1862, with Generals Don Carlos Buell and George Henry Thomas, and fought in the Battle of Mill Springs, Kentucky, on January 19, 1862, when Confederate General Felix Zollicoffer, who commanded the Confederate forces, was killed. Burton’s father died while serving in Kentucky from typhoid fever.

Burton Parker – who had reached the rank of colonel and also recovered from a Civil War illness – became an employee in a dry goods store near Petersburg. In 1867, at the age of 22, Burton Parker was elected justice of the peace and began studying law. He attended University of Michigan Law School and graduated as a Class Member of 1870. He opened a law firm in Monroe, then served the citizens of Monroe as mayor , circuit court commissioner and president of the Monroe school board. This led to his election to the Michigan Legislature, serving in the 32nd Session from 1883 to 1884.

Burton Parker’s Indian agent service aligned with the policies of the Arthur administration at the time – spawned by his house being used as a stop on the Underground Railroad. President Arthur was a strong supporter of peace with the Indian people. “The Indian should be given the protection of the law,” Arthur said in 1881. “He should be allowed to uphold his rights of person and property in the courts. He has repeatedly requested this privilege. His exercise would be very precious to him in his march towards civilization.

Arthur called for three measures to help assimilate Indians: strong education funding, individual land ownership, and a law making state laws applicable to Indian reservations. Having assumed the presidency following the assassination of President James A. Garfield in September 1881, Arthur’s efforts to promote Indian rights were halted due to his own death on November 18, 1886, of Bright’s disease, a then fatal kidney disease. He was first diagnosed with the disease in 1882 and kept it a secret. Knowing that his condition was fatal, Arthur made little effort to seek a nomination for a second term.

However, Indian advocacy efforts made a big impression on Burton Parker as he later became Special Agent of the US Treasury under President William McKinley and Special Supervisory Agent under President Theodore Roosevelt. The stories of the Assiniboine and Sioux Burton Parker and his wife Fannie told to niece Bertha Frances Parker motivated her to become a renowned author of Indian stories. For example, in 1909, the CM Clark Publishing Company of Boston published Frances Parker’s book, Winding Waters; The story of a long road and strong hearts, which tells the story of Nez Percé from an Indian point of view. Like President Arthur, members of the Nez Perce tribe wanted individual land ownership – refusing to accept internment on a reserve.

Tom Adamich is President – Visiting Librarian Service, a company he has run since 1993. He is also a Project Archivist for the Greening Nursery Company and Family Archives.

This article originally appeared on The Monroe News: Monroe Burton Parker’s lawyer was the Indian lawyer


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