Letter from John B. Hart to Senator Langer Regarding Illegitimacy Cases on the Fort Berthold Reservation, December 17,1954
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This letter, dated December 17, 1954, from John B. Hart, executive director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission to United States (US) Senator William Langer, makes reference to a letter Langer has forwarded him from Fort Berthold Social Worker Pansy Pawson regarding illegitimacy cases on the Fort Berthold Reservation.
In her letter to Langer, Pawson had referred to a request she received to make a report on illegitimacy cases on the reservation, and explained why she was unable to make such a report, due to a lack of necessary information. She wrote that she had repeatedly and unsuccessfully requested a list of the illegitimacy cases on the Fort Berthold Reservation from Hart. In this reply to Langer, Hart says that his initial information about the level of illegitimate births on the reservation came from Dr. Herbert J. Wilson, Medical Officer for the Fort Berthold Agency. Hart adds that according to Wilson, the identity of the father is known in six of the cases but these fathers have not been willing to take responsibility, and that there are also several cases of child neglect on the reservation.
Hart writes that he has "constantly" asked the agency superintendent for information on what was being done to establish parentage in cases of illegitimate births, and in every case was told the superintendent had not had time to compile the information.
Hart writes also that, if Pawson was interested in knowing about the cases of illegitimate births on the reservation, she could get the information from Dr. Wilson. Hart writes that he has not requested the names of the mothers himself, and doesn't intend to so because, he says, "If I am going to do the Social Worker's work at the Fort Berthold Reservation, I intend to be paid for it. I'm not paid for that and consequently I'm not going to do it.
Hart continues that he wishes to agree with Pawson's statement that no "mass effort" is made to prove paternity "in each and every case." What he would like to know, he writes is whether any effort is being made at all. He adds that, while it's true that a married man can not be forced to marry the mother of his illegitimate child, that is no reason to "deprive that child of a father's responsibility or the right of the child to inherit from his father."
Letter from Pansy Pawson to Senator Langer Regarding Illegitimacy Cases on the Fort Berthold Reservation, November 17, 1954
Letter from Senator Langer to John B. Hart Regarding Illegitimacy Cases on the Fort Berthold Reservation, November 19, 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, Herbert J. Wilson
Hart, John B., "Letter from John B. Hart to Senator Langer Regarding Illegitimacy Cases on the Fort Berthold Reservation, December 17,1954" (1954). William Langer Papers. 1043.