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Community comes together to support Alice Piper project

March 7, 2014

Aurora Toledo of Big Pine “Dances into the Circle” at last week’s Alice Piper Project fundraiser held at the Big Pine High School. She was joined by Sage Romero, Bailee Piper (above) and Bobby Piper (not shown). Romero talked about the effort to raise funds for a life-size statue of Piper whose lawsuit against the Big Pine Unified School District in 1924 served as a precedent for equal access to public education under the 14th Amendment. Photo by Deb Murphy

“Who is Alice Piper” is the question driving the Big Pine Unified School District and Big Pine Paiute Tribe in the effort to raise funds for a statute honoring the Paiute from Fish Lake Valley.
The life-size statue, designed by Matt Glenn of Big Statues in Provo, Utah from a sketch done by Robert Guiteriez, will be placed on the front lawn of the Big Pine High School, surrounded by a garden area and seating.
The question was answered at a fundraising event held at the school gym on Tuesday. Piper and six unnamed co-plaintiffs sued the school district in 1924 for access to public education, rather than attend a federal Indian school within the district’s boundaries.
At 15, Piper won her case in the California Supreme Court, somewhat on a technicality because the district did not operate a separate school for Native Americans. But, the decision that the district was obligated to provide education to all local children was later used as a precedent for the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v Board of Education decision that led to desegragation of schools in the 1960s.
The fundraising effort, as outlined by Sage Romero at Tuesday’s gathering, was launched on last month and has a deadline of March 16. Those who have donated through the website will not have to pay up if the $50,000 goal is not reached. As of Tuesday, donations totaling approximately 25 percent of the goal had been committed.
The event started with a video, prepared by Romero and Alicia Peterson, explaining just who Alice Piper was and her contribution to equal education. The video was followed by a dedication presentation by Romero’s AkaMya Culture Group, “Dancing into the Circle.”
Those interested in contributing to the project can simply Google “Kickstarter Alice Piper” to donate. The district is accepting checks as well.
More information is available on the site and the video can be viewed at

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