Laura Miriam Cornelius Kellogg also known as Minnie Kellogg (1880-1947) was born into the Oneida Indian community of Wisconsin and became a baptized member of the Episcopal church. She descended from two influential Oneida leaders, Chief Daniel Bread and Chief Skenandore. Kellogg, like her forebears, built her reputation as an Oneida leader using her gifts for oratory. Unlike many of her contemporaries who went to Indian boarding schools, Laura Cornelius attended Grafton Hall, a private finishing school for girls in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. After graduating in 1898, she spent two years traveling in Europe, and she later studied at a number of institutions of higher learning including Stanford, Barnard College, Columbia, Cornell, and the University of Wisconsin.
As one of the founders of the Society of American Indians, Kellogg contributed to the emergence of a national Indian voice at the Society’s leadership for a commitment to Indian self-sufficiency and independence, goals she believed were attainable by instituting plans for self-sustaining economic development on Indian reservations. While her message did not prove overwhelmingly popular among national Indian leaders, Kellogg did find a supportive constituency among the Iroquois. Thereafter she began more and more to devote her considerable talents, which included fluency in Oneida, to the recovery of New York and Wisconsin lands previously taken from the Oneida people.
Minnie Kellogg’s special genus as a leader of the Oneida land claims struggle included her use of traditional Iroquois images and institutions to solve modern problems. The strategies she developed have influenced all subsequent twentieth-century campaigns to reclaim Iroquois lands. Unfortunately, Minnie Kellogg’s legacy as an Iroquois leader is marred by accusations of fraud and mismanagement of donations. Minnie Kellogg, never able to recover her reputation, died in obscurity in New York City in 1947.
–Gretchen G. Harvey
Campisi, Jack. “Ethnic Identity and Boundary Maintenance in Three Oneida Communities.” PhD. diss., State University of New York, Albany, 1974.
Cornelius, Laura M. “Industrial Organization for the Indian.” In Report of the Executive Council on the Proceedings of the First Annual Conference, 12-17 October 1911, Society of American Indians, 46-49. Washington, DC: Society of American Indians, 1912.
—–. “Overalls and the Tenderfoot: A story.” The Barnard Bear 2 (March 1907): 5-18.
Hauptman, Laurence M. “Designing Woman: Minnie Kellogg, Iroquois Leader.” In Indian Lives: Essay on Nineteenth-and Twentieth-Century Native Americans Leaders, edited by L.G. Moses and Raymond Wilson, 158-86. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1985.
Kellogg, Laura Cornelius. Our Democracy and the American Indian. Kansas City, MO: Burton Publishing, 1920.
—–. “Some Facts and Figures on Indian Education.” The Quarterly Journal 1 (April 15, 1913): 37.
McLester, Thelma Cornelius. “Oneida Women Leaders.” In The Oneida Indian Experience: Two Perspectives, edited by Jack Campisi and Laurence Hauptman, 108-25. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1988.
**Directly taken from Native American Women: A biographical dictionary edited by Gretchen M. Bataille. Garland Publishing New York and London, 1993. P. 138.**