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This letter, dated November 17, 1954, from Fort Berthold Social Worker Pansy Pawson to United States (US) Senator William Langer, makes reference to a request from Fort Berthold Agency Superintendent Ralph Shane that Pawson prepare a report on 20 cases of illegitimate birth on the Fort Berthold Reservation. Pawson writes that she has asked repeatedly and unsuccessfully for a list of the 20 cases from John B. Hart, executive director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, as there is no such list at the Fort Berthold Agency, and she has no idea where Hart got that figure.
Pawson goes on to explain that "no mass effort is made to prove paternity on each and every case of illegitimacy reported on the birth certificate at the Fort Berthold Agency," and describes difficulties involved in establishing paternity in such cases, including a lack of emotional support for mothers who try to get fathers to accept the illegitimate children. Clients at the agency, she writes, are not given assistance until some effort is made, usually through court action, to prove paternity. In many cases, she adds, the father is married, which precludes any effort to force a marriage.
Pawson, in closing, writes that she is sorry she was "unable to remain at the Hearing until I was called upon, as I would like to have discussed the welfare problem here at Fort Berthold more fully than it was discussed during the day while I was at the Hearing."
Letter from Senator Langer to John B. Hart Regarding Illegitimacy Cases on the Fort Berthold Reservation, November 19, 1954
Letter from John B. Hart to Senator Langer Regarding Illegitimacy Cases on the Fort Berthold Reservation, December 17,1954
Date of Work
Three Affliliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation (North Dakota), Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, MHA Nation, illegitimacy, illegitimate birth, unwed mothers, welfare
Forth Berthold Indian Agency, North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission
William Langer, John B. Hart, Pansy Pawson
Pawson, Pansy, "Letter from Pansy Pawson to Senator Langer Regarding Illegitimacy Cases on the Fort Berthold Reservation, November 17, 1954" (1954). William Langer Papers. 1041.