January 29 – This Date in History: Kaw Member Charles Curtis Becomes US Senator

US Senator Charles Curtis - PHOTO Courtesy: US Senate

US Senator Charles Curtis – PHOTO Courtesy: US Senate

WASHINGTON – A social milestone was reached on this date – January 29 – in 1907 when U.S. Congressman Charles Curtis of Kansas was seated in the United States Senate filling the unexpired term of Senator Joseph R. Burton who resigned.

Curtis was a member of the Kaw Tribe of Kansas. On his mother’s side, he was also mixed with Osage and Potawatomi.

He was also chosen to serve a full term in that office. Curtis became the first person with American Indian blood to serve in the Senate. He remained until March 3, 1929, when he left the Senate to serve as vice president under Herbert Hoover.

Curtis was a widower by the time he was elected vice president. He remains the only vice president of the United States to be be unmarried.

As the only American Indian to hold the nation’s second highest elected office, Curtis decorated his office with American Indian items and was eager to pose with a headdress on for photos with visitors to his office.

There are over 2.5 million American Indians in the United States today. Only two American Indians serve in congress today. Both Tom Cole and Markwayne Mullin serve in the US House of Representatives representing districts in the state of Oklahoma.

Of the more than 900,000 American Indians in the workforce, nearly 10 percent are in public administration.  Among American Indians in the civilian workforce, 26 percent of those over the age of 16 are in management, business, science and arts occupations.


Information provided by the US Census Bureau

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