AUGUST 22, 1985


Born June 7, 1908, Piper was denied entry on June 2, 1923, to the newly-built Big Pine High School.  California law barred Indians from attending public schools if a government Indian school was within 3 miles of the public school.  Piper sued claiming that her 14th Amendment rights had been violated as the Indian school only went to the 5th grade, was underfunded, and lacked basic resources.  Also, the District promised to allow Indian students to attend the school if their parents voted to fund its construction, but then reneged afterwards.  The California Supreme Court unanimously ruled for her in Piper v. Big Pine (1924), which allowed Native American children to attend California public schools.  Her case later was cited as precedent in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954.  In 2014, the Big Pine Paiute Tribe and Big Pine Unified School District dedicated a statue of Piper in front of the school.   As of 2014, 56% of the students at Big Pine high school are Native American.

Sources:  Deb Murphy, "Honoring Alice Piper," Wayback Machine: The Inyo Register, 2/14/2012.  Retrieved 7/11/2019,  Charles James, "Long Awaited Honor Comes to Big Pine Schools," The Inyo Register, 6/6/2014.  Retrieved 7/11/2019,
Photo:  Author unknown.  Date:  Early 1920s.  Public Domain in U.S.:  Either Pre 1/1/1925, or copyright was not registered or renewed.  Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 70 years or less.

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