Attorney Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin, a member of the Chippewa Tribe and an attorney and suffragist, will be recognized with an historic marker in Pembina, North Dakota.
Although Baldwin lived many different places throughout her life, Pembina was chosen for the marker because it was her birthplace. The marker will be placed on the Pembina State Museum grounds.
As a prominent, well educated, Native American, Marie Baldwin embraced the traditions of her heritage and of the suffrage movement while she worked for the Department of Education in the Office of Indian Affairs (1904-1932). Newspapers all over the country quoted her remarks in 1913, when she stated, “As for the Indian women they have had virtual suffrage, also the power of recall, since time immemorial. Whenever they were dissatisfied with a chief of the tribe all they had to do was to make their wishes known and he was promptly ‘recalled’.”
Baldwin’s marker is part of the National Votes for Women Trail. The Pomeroy Foundation in New York state is funding historic markers connected with woman suffrage all across the country. The North Dakota Woman Suffrage Centennial Committee has led the effort to secure five for North Dakota.
Before moving to Minnesota and Washington, DC, Baldwin spent time in her childhood in Pembina. It was still a fur trading post and tons of furs were shipped by Red River oxcarts to St. Paul. As a child, she made these oxcart trips with her parents.
Baldwin was the first native American woman to graduate from the Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. In 1915 it awarded her the degree of Master of Law, recognizing her post-graduate work.
As an active member of the Society of American Indians, she had the honor of meeting President Wilson at the White House in 1914. She also served as national speaker for the Society. In that role, she visited Indian Schools in North Dakota in September 1915. As the Wahpeton Times noted when she gave her address there, “Marie Baldwin is one of the foremost Indian ladies of the whole country.”
Baldwin’s thoughtful support for woman suffrage made the news, and helped the suffrage movement. When suffragists collected gold and silver items to melt down and use as resources for the movement, Baldwin’s contribution and comments were publicized. In her note accompanying a $5 gold piece, she said, “Please believe I am glad of the opportunity to give this widow’s mite to the great cause for woman’s might.”
It is important to note that Baldwin, despite her accomplishments, would not have been able to vote. Even after the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution giving women the vote was ratified in 1920, Congress did not recognize most tribal members as United States Citizens until 1924.