Curtis was the son of a woman of mixed Native American descent and a man of English ancestry. He grew up speaking French and Kansa and lived for a time on his mother's tribe's reservation. Curtis' childhood was marked by tragedy: his mother died when he was three and his father was sent to a military prison, a result of an incident during the Civil War.
Curtis was raised by both his maternal and paternal grandparents --on the reservation and off. Both sets of grandparents stressed the importance of an education and Curtis decided to study law.
Curtis became an attorney who served as an elected member of Congress (beginning in 1893) and then the Senate (beginning in 1907) representing Kansas for many terms. He was a passionate advocate for Native American rights but also believed that education and assimilation were important to elevate the status of Native Americans.
In 1929, Curtis was sworn in as Vice President under Hoover. In 1933, Curtis' term ended. He died in 1936 of a heart attack.
Mixed Experience History Month is a yearly blog post series celebrating the history of the Mixed experience. Established in 2007, Mixed Experience History Month is an effort to show that we have long been a nation of multiracial individuals and importantly multiracial and multicultural individuals of achievement (not tragic mulattoes). Please look for more profiles of people, places and events of the Mixed experience every weekday of May right here at Lightskinned-ed Girl Blog! Thanks for reading.