ERIC Number: ED310394
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1989-Aug-10
Reference Count: N/A
Indians and Public Opinion in the Age of Reform: The Case of the Poncas.
Coward, John M.
News and editorial coverage of the Ponca controversy of 1879 was investigated in an effort to discover why and how this particular Indian story became a national crusade. The Ponca campaign helped promote reform-minded legislation which conferred new rights on the Indians and promised to speed their assimilation into mainstream society. The Dawes Act, which granted individual Indians tracts of land, was the culmination of the nineteenth century Indian reform movement. With publicity-minded reformers leading the way, the newspapers played a major part of the Ponca campaign and became promoters of the Indian reform movement. Without sympathetic news coverage and supporting editorials, in fact, opposition to Ponca removal and support for Indian reform could not have attained the level of public attention that it did. Since the Poncas were peaceful people and had been clearly wronged by the Indian Bureau, it did not take much editorial courage to support their tribe. Press coverage of the Ponca affair was less the result of journalistic enterprise than of the activists on both sides. The newspapers never covered the story until after it had been promoted and then carried the story only through the lecture tour which had been arranged. Because the press was dependent on various partisans for its information, many issues of the Indian reform movement were never discussed or critically examined. By failing to investigate the story fully, the papers contributed to the superficial nature of the Indian debate. (Seventy-two notes are included.) (MG)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Oklahoma