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Sister Buckskin.

A nun nicknamed "Sister Buckskin" prompted Congress to change U.S. policy toward poor, landless American Indians in the 1950s, according to a recent article in Montana: The Magazine of Western History.

Sr. Providencia Tolan of the Sisters of Charity of Providence, "elevated an off-reservation community with the unusual name of Hill 57 to a national symbol of urban Indian poverty," wrote Joan Bishop in the review.

Tolan first met dispossessed American Indians in 1948, when she was a lecturer at the College of Great Falls. Members of the Cree and Chippewa tribes, who had been relocated by the federal government, were living in poverty on Hill 57. "With dispatch, Sister Providencia planned ways to alleviate Hill 57's poverty, soliciting donations from friends and urging volunteer groups ... to repair and donate clothing," Bishop wrote.

Tolan also lobbied Congress to offer programs that prepared American Indians for the transition to life off the reservation. As a result, Congress in 1962 passed the Manpower Training and Development Act.

One Montana tribal leader in 1964 called Tolan "a fearless and eloquent sister and probably one of the best-informed persons in the United States on the Indians' economic problems," Bishop wrote.

Tolan died in Spokane, Wash., in 1989 at the age of 80.
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Title Annotation:Sister Providencia Tolan
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Obituary
Date:Sep 17, 1993
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