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Post office mural "Indians Cede the Land"

Park Ridge Post Office 1940 – 1970

Restored and Installed in the Park Ridge Public Library 2013

“Indians Cede the Land” by George Melville Smith was created for the Park Ridge Post Office at 164 South Prospect Ave. as part of the Treasury Relief Art Project and was installed on June 20, 1940, when the building was just three years old.

The mural was removed in 1970 when the building was sold and kept in storage for 38 years. In 2008, the mural was donated to the Park Ridge Public Library and a group of citizens took on the task of raising funds for the restoration and installation of the mural.

On Friday, February 22, 2013, as part of the Library’s 100th Anniversary celebration, the restored mural was unveiled in its current location on the second floor of the Park Ridge Public Library.

To read more about the history of the mural and the artist along with the efforts of the Mural Restoration Committee click on the links below.

Mural Booklet

The booklet includes a history of the mural along with a list of donors and those involved in the restoration.

History of the Mural and the Artist

Learn more about the artist, the history of the mural, and the subject it depicts

Post Office Mural album

Photos of the Mural installation and unveiling can be found in our Flickr album

“Ask Geoffrey” segment

Chicago Tonight – begins at minute 4

“Saving a New Deal Mural”

By John Schmidt – Chicago History Today Blog WBEZ

“Indians Cede The Land”

NEW – The United States Postal Museum included our mural in their new online exhibit

Historical Context for “Indians Cede the Land”

Excerpt from Julie Pelletier, Acting Director of D’Arcy NcNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies of The Newberry

The mural by George Melville Smith titled “Indians Cede the Land” could illustrate any of the treaties signed in the area – the Treaty of Chicago, the Treaty of Greenville, or the Treaty of St. Louis. Tribes participating in the treaties included Potawatomi, Chippewa, Ottawa, Wyandot, Delaware/Lenape, Shawnee, Miami, Kickapoo, and Kaskaskia. The act of ceding land by Native Americans was involuntary and typically done under duress. In return for vast tracts of land, tribes might be promised goods, money, reserved lands (reservations), and protection from encroaching settlers. Over time, more and more Native Americans were pushed west into territories already inhabited by other tribes. The Treaty of Chicago gained over a million acres of land for the United States. In return, signatory tribes received $100,000 in trade goods, $280,000 in twenty annual payments of $14,000 each, and $150,000 for the erection of mills, houses, etc. The treaty does not list any land to be held for the tribes so one wonders where the houses and mills would be built. The United States government often did not honor its treaties with Native Americans and most tribes do not receive what they were promised as payment for land cessions.

Mural Restoration Committee. Indians Cede the Land by George Melville Smith. Indians Cede the Land by George Melville Smith, Mural Restoration Committee, 2013.

Pelletier, Julie. “Suggested Edits to Mural Text.” Suggested Edits to Mural Text, 15 May 2018.

Thompson, Mary Emma. Let’s Look for Cultures, Education, and Such in Illinois Post Offices. Mary Emma Thompson, Ph. D., 2014.

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