Contents and Arrangement

Subseries 2: Tribal, 1852-1994

120 boxes
Restrictions may apply. See Access Note.

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Series 2: Subject Files, Subseries 2: Tribal (1852-1994), the single largest body of material in the collection, documents the AAIA's relationship with more than 300 Native American communities and organizations from one end of the country to the other and the matters of uppermost concern to them. The AAIA's involvement in the lives of these entities varied widely in duration and intensity, sometimes precipitated by natural or man-made crises, sometimes engendered by long-term but equally invidious threats to tribal self-sufficiency. Many critical junctures in Native American history are chronicled in this subseries, from the Pueblo of Taos' struggle to recover its sacred Blue Lake to the Native Village of Point Hope's opposition to nuclear detonations; from the termination of Wisconsin's Menominee to the recognition of Florida's Miccosukee. Less prominent but, to the communities concerned, vitally important issues abound in these files, be it the location of a high school, the consolidation of two Indian agencies, the preservation of traditional fishing rights, or the encroachment of a hydroelectric project.

This subseries is composed mainly of correspondence but also includes such items as reports, clippings, and minutes.

The correspondence is extremely varied, with many exchanges between Native American leaders and the AAIA's executive directors. The former spoke not only for tribes but for umbrella groups such as the Alaska Federation of Natives, the Association of Village Council Presidents, the Cook Inlet Native Association, the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council, the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, and the Tanana Chiefs Conference, to name the organizations most strongly represented here. Other correspondence takes the form of exchanges internal to the AAIA, including ever important communications between its office in New York and its field workers, general counsel, and, during his years in New Mexico, its president, Oliver La Farge, as it endeavored to craft a response to various tribal needs. Exchanges with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other governmental and nongovernmental entities can also be found. An important supplement to the correspondence in this subseries is offered by various tribal documents, among them constitutional and administrative records, and reports and surveys prepared or assembled by the AAIA in its efforts to inform itself and others about the situation of Native Americans.

If this subseries has an overriding strength, it is its capacity to reveal the diversity and commonality of the American Indian experience. While, for example, the erection of massive dams and the concomitant loss of tribal patrimony was a recurring theme, the racial discrimination faced by Indians such as Louisiana's Houma and North Carolina's Lumbee had a distinctively segregationist stamp. If there is evidence of Native American cohesion in intertribal organizations such as the United Tribes of North Dakota or the Kumeyaay Tribal Council, there is also evidence of disunity, as in the case of the Osage, where a restricted franchise was bitterly contested, or in the case of the long-running territorial dispute between the Navajo and Hopi. The role of the AAIA was also variable, containing programmatic elements, as evidenced by broad initiatives in such fields as community development and child welfare, as well as innumerable actions shaped by local circumstances. The AAIA fostered change in modest ways -- a small grant here, a small grant there -- as well as through dramatic interventions, such as its defense of Arizona's Havasupai, the "Prisoners," to use its words, "of the Grand Canyon." As this subseries attests, the Association's views did not necessarily prevail -- its failure to halt the construction of the Kinzua Dam on the Allegheny River is a case in point -- nor could it devote its energies in equal measure to all tribes. Yet, from its limited beginnings in the Southwest, the AAIA developed an ever widening interest in the fate of Native Americans, leaving not only a legacy of concrete accomplishments but a paper trail which documents the evolving fortunes and the growing self-assurance of the communities it served.


The materials in this subseries are arranged in alphabetical order, initially by state and then by tribe (e.g. San Carlos Apache), organization (e.g. American Indian Community House), or other subject (e.g. Tongue River Railroad Extension). In many instances, the name of a tribe is preceded by that of its reservation, reflecting the fact that members of the same Indian nation are often dispersed among two or more reservations. Some tribes are formally recognized as residing in two or more states and have been organized accordingly. The largest of these is the Navajo, whose far-flung territory encompasses parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. Files relating to the Navajo have been grouped beneath this tri-state heading in the overall alphabetical sequence. Other tribes with a multiple heading include the Colorado River Tribes of Arizona and California, the Ute Mountain Tribe of Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah, and the Goshute of Nevada and Utah. Material of a miscellaneous nature has likewise been organized by state and can be found in a general file at the end of each sequence of files. It should be noted that in the interests of simplicity, North and South Dakota have been treated as one unit under the collective term, "Dakotas."

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 2 are open for reseach 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 2: Tribal; 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 172-291