Fletcher, Alice C. (Alice Cunningham), 1838-1923Alternative names
Alice Cunningham Fletcher was an American ethnologist, anthropologist, and social scientist who studied and documented Native American culture. She credited Frederic Ward Putnam for stimulating her interest in Native American culture.
From 1881, Fletcher was involved with the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, an Indian boarding school with a primary objective of assimilating Native American children and youth into Euro-American culture.
In 1881, Fletcher traveled to live with and study the Sioux on their reservation as a representative of the Peabody Museum. She was accompanied by Susette "Bright Eyes" La Flesche and during this time started a long-term professional collaboration with Susette's half-brother Francis La Flesche, who she would go on to have an informal mother-son relationship with. Fletcher was made assistant in ethnology at the Peabody Museum in 1882, and in 1891 received the Thaw fellowship, which was created for her.
In 1883 she was appointed special agent by the US to allot lands to the Miwok tribes and in 1886 she visited Indigenous people of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands on a mission from the commissioner of education. She worked with Frederic Ward Putnam in his research on Serpent Mound in Ohio and assisted in the efforts to raise funds to purchase the site in 1886.
In 1887 she was appointed United States special agent in the allotment of lands among the Winnebago and the Nez Perce under the Dawes Act. Fletcher helped write, lobby for, and administer the Dawes Act of 1887, which broke up reservations and distributed communal land in allotments for individual household ownership of land parcels. The Dawes Act was accountable for the inevitable breakup of all Indigenous reservations.
In 1888 Fletcher published Indian Education and Civilization, a special report of the Bureau of Education. She was a pioneer in the study of American Indian music, a field of research inaugurated by a paper she gave in 1893 before the Chicago Anthropological Conference. Fletcher was active in professional associations; she was elected president of the Anthropological Society of Washington and in 1905 was the first woman president of the American Folklore Society. In 1908 she led in founding the School of American Archaeology in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1911, with Francis La Flesche, she published The Omaha Tribe (altogether she wrote 46 monographs on ethnology).
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|Nez Percé Indians--Religion|
|Nez Percé Indians--Social life and customs|
|Nez Percé Indians|
|Nez Percé mythology|