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  • Writer's pictureRachel Red-Horse

Marie Mason Potts


Marie Mason Potts was born in 1895 in Big Meadows (Chester), California. She was a member of the Mountain Maidu and was a prolific leader and activist. Marie attended both the Greenville and Carlisle Indian Schools.


She was a founder of the Federated Indians of California and was editor of their newspaper “The Smoke Signal” (after her daughter left the post). Through this newspaper she fought for Native independence in unprecedented ways. She would send readers governmental forms and find them the aid they needed in order to file land claims and deal with other legal issues.


She was also a founding member of the Sacramento Indian Center, the American Indian Press Association Intertribal Council Center, and a member of what would later become known as the California Education Association. She taught Native history at California State University Sacramento, ran the California Indian Museum in Sacramento, and participated in the occupation of Alcatraz, in fact she printed the proclamation in “Smoke Signals”.


Potts brought the Bear Dance back to California and during her 1978 trip to Bear Dance she embarked on her journey to the spirit world.



She authored two books, “The Northern Maidu” and “Honey Run Bridge”. To learn more about Marie Mason Potts find a copy of, “Marie Mason Potts: The Lettered Life of a California Indian Activist”.

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