Contents and Arrangement

Subseries 1: General, 1868-1995

116 boxes
Restrictions may apply. See Access Note.

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Series 2: Subject Files, Subseries 1: General (1868-1995) is distinguished by its breadth, embracing, as it does, the wide array of subjects -- and the even greater range of individuals and groups -- with which the AAIA has been associated over the years. It contains a diverse assortment of correspondence, running the gamut from official circulars to informal notes, as well as articles, brochures, reports, and clippings. Some files are notable for their fullness, attesting to the salience of a particular topic or the productivity of a particular individual, while others provide only the most general of glosses. This subseries also represents an interesting mix of the personal and the impersonal: from the reflections of Executive Director La Verne Madigan on Native American nationalism -- "our democracy is impure to the extent that the people we conquered do not accept it as their democracy" -- to an Acting Deputy Commissioner of Indian Affairs' memorandum on the cancellation of reimbursable charges "pursuant to the Indian Financing Act of 1974." Broadly speaking, this subseries can be divided into three categories: people; corporate bodies, both governmental and nongovernmental; and issues.

Files which bear the names of individuals encompass board and staff members; elected and appointed public officials such as Senator George McGovern and Commissioner of Indian Affairs Philleo Nash; Native American leaders such as Vine Deloria, Jr. and John Woodenlegs; and citizens with an interest in Indian matters, including a past and future First Lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Rodham. While the leanness of some files, including those of certain board members, reflect the peripheral or transitory nature of their subjects' involvement in the AAIA's concerns, others bear witness to years of diligent activity in the interests of Native Americans. Angie Debo's file, for instance, exemplifies the model board member, documenting her extensive knowledge of Indian affairs in Oklahoma, her interest in wider issues, and her wholehearted commitment to the work of the Association, for whom she was an important source of counsel.

The interest taken by the AAIA in other entities concerned with Native Americans -- be they Indian or non-Indian in composition -- is also documented in this subseries. Particularly well-represented are the American Indian Development Corporation, the American Indian Policy Review Commission, the Association of Contract Tribal Schools, the National Congress of American Indians, the National Indian Education Association, and the Organization for Social and Technical Innovation. There are files which contain only informational material and, thus, suggest a minimum of interaction, as in the case of the American Indian Archaeological Institute, and there are files which reveal a collaborative spirit, as in the case of the Native American Rights Fund. Cordiality as well as hostility can be found. The American Indian Press Association, which the AAIA lauded as serving "an extremely useful and much needed function," is illustrative of the former, while the American Indian Federation, with its Nazi proclivities, -- "a notoriously disreputable group," in La Farge's words -- falls squarely in the latter camp. While the AAIA offered support to organizations such as the American Indian Nurses Association, it sought assistance from charitable institutions such as the John Hay Whitney Foundation. Indeed, the significant number of philanthropic bodies contained in this subseries underscores the financial pressures experienced by the Association as it sought to mount a diversified and effective program. Governmental bodies are also well-represented, either in their own right or in files addressing specific issues. Not unexpectedly, material relating to the Bureau of Indian Affairs of the Department of the Interior predominates: evidence of the pervasive role its programs and personnel have played in Native American life. Of particular interest are files relating to the Association's vexed relationship with Commissioners of Indian Affairs Dillon Myer and Glenn Emmons in the 1950s, both of whom espoused the speedy termination of federal responsibilities for Native Americans.

Rounding out this subseries are sometimes substantial files on the issues which engaged the attention and consumed the energies of the AAIA. While the files in this category hold evidence of concrete action, they also contain the accumulation of data on which the Association based its policies. A fluid picture emerges as the rejuvenation of Indian arts and crafts or the struggle to halt the termination of recognized tribes gives way to the preservation of Indian families or the struggle to secure the acknowledgement of unrecognized tribes. Issues such as health and education loomed large from one decade to the next, even if the focus shifted, for example, from trachoma to acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Still other matters, such as the occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs' headquarters by the American Indian Movement in 1972, flared up and died down suddenly, baring old antagonisms. Taken as a whole, this subseries sheds a revealing light on the AAIA, the players who shared its stage, and the dramas -- sometimes resolved and sometimes not -- in which it acted. It also demonstrates that over the years this stage has grown ever more crowded and ever more Indian in representation, though the challenges confronting Native Americans have not thereby abated.


The materials in this subseries are arranged alphabetically by name of individual, corporate body or issue.

Collection History


No information about appraisal is available for this collection prior to the 2007 addition. Materials related to particular scholarships were separated from the August 2007 addition [ML.2007.027] and returned to the donor as requested.

No materials were separated from subsequent additions in 2008-2015. The exception is the 2014 addition [ML.2014.007]; AAIA newsletters that had already been catalogued by Princeton's Firestone Library were removed.

Approximately 1.5 linear feet consisting of routine financial information, personnel records, and other out-of-scope materials were removed from the October 2016 addition [ML.2016.034].


These records were processed with the generous support of The National Endowment for the Humanities and The John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Fund.

Processing Information

These Records were initially arranged and described between December 1995 - June 1997 by John S. Weeren, with the able assistance of many hands and, in particular, Tom Rosko, Mitra Martin, Christina Aragon, and Shawneequa Callier. Additions received from 2005 to 2008 were processed in 2008 by Lynn Durgin. An inventory, the MARC record and the finding aid were updated at this time. Materials from subsequent additions from 2009-2016 were added to the collection as separate series. Box and folder lists for these additionss were created and the MARC record and finding aid were updated. Some materials in the May 2011, September 2012, and 2014 additions were re-housed in archival boxes or folders during accessioning. Digital materials in Series 8 were processed by Elena Colon-Marrero in July 2015.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

All records in Series 2, Subseries 1 are open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, any copyright vested in the donor has passed to The Trustees of Princeton University and researchers do not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with use of donor-created materials within the collection. For materials in the collection not created by the donor, or where the material is not an original, the copyright is likely not held by the University. In these instances, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have a question about who owns the copyright for an item, you may request clarification by contacting us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

This collection contains materials acquired from an Apple iMac desktop computer and other unknown desktop computers. Researchers are responsible for meeting the technical requirements needed to access these materials, including any and all hardware and software.

Credit this material:

Subseries 1: General; Association on American Indian Affairs Records, MC147, Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (mudd): Box 57-172