Cato Sells

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Cato Sells circa 1913

Cato Sells (October 6, 1859 – 1948) was a commissioner at the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1913 to 1921.

Life and career[edit]

He was born in Vinton, Iowa on October 6, 1859. He lost his father when he was young. He entered Cornell College in 1875. In 1878 he read law with Charles Alvord Bishop and in 1880 was admitted to Iowa State Bar Association and began practice at La Porte City, Iowa. In 1889 he moved to Vinton, Iowa and served on the Iowa State Central Committee. In 1887 he was chairman of the committee and was a delegate to the 1888 Democratic National Convention. He was a delegate to the 1892 Democratic National Convention as secretary. In 1892 was he was elected as a trustee of the Iowa State College of Agriculture. In 1893 he was president of the Iowa Democratic State Convention.[1] In 1894 he was appointed by Grover Cleveland as United States Attorney for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa.[2][1] In 1899 he was again president of the Iowa Democratic State Convention and in 1900 chairman of the Iowa delegation in the 1900 Democratic National Convention in Kansas City.[3][1]

He was a commissioner at the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1913 from 1921. In 1914 he banished books that taught anything concerning the Asian origins of Indigenous peoples of the Americas.[4]

He died in 1948.


Sells is the namesake of the town of Sells, Arizona.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Benjamin F. Gue (1903). History of Iowa from the earliest times to the beginning of the twentieth century. 
  2. ^ "An Efficient District Attorney". New York Times. December 23, 1894. Retrieved 2011-12-15. Cato Sells, United States District Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa ... 
  3. ^ "Preferences of Delegates". New York Times. July 3, 1900. Retrieved 2011-12-15. Iowa. Cato Sells will be Chairman of the delegation ... 
  4. ^ "Cato Sells Banishes Books That Teach Them They Are Mongolians." (PDF). New York Times. December 28, 1914. Retrieved 2009-07-31. Cato Sells. United States Commissioner of Indian Affairs, has ruled that the American Indian is not a Mongolian. This is of interest to writers and composers of school books, for the Commissioner says he will eliminate from the list of books used in the Indian schools all that class the red man of this continent with the race to which the Chinese and other far Eastern people belong. ... 
  5. ^ Moyer, Armond; Moyer, Winifred (1958). The origins of unusual place-names. Keystone Pub. Associates. p. 118.