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Piper v. Big Pine School District, California Supreme Court (1924)
Online Student Instructions 

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In 1921, the California State Legislature passed an education bill that Governor William Stephens signed into law. This law stated that all Indian students must go to the federal Indian school in their area if there was one set up by the federal government (see background information). In 1924, Alice Piper, a “Californian Indian” who was then 15 years old, was refused admittance to the local school because there was a federal school for Native Americans not far from her hometown of Big Pine in Inyo County. Her parents felt that since she was not of that tribe that she should be able to go to the local school and sued the local school district.

For this classroom activity, there will be at least two teams. The plaintiff’s team(s) will argue for Piper and the defendant’s team(s) for the Big Pine School District. Both teams should read all relevant materials including the Brief of Complaint; Respondent’s Closing Brief; and Opinion. As they do this research, they should complete the Court Case Positions - Student Research Form.

After reading and discussing the material, the teams should be ready to argue their cases. After arguing their cases, the teams will hear the original decision of the court.

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