Contents and Arrangement

Subseries 3: Legislation, 1851-1994

38 boxes
Restrictions may apply. See Access Note.

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Series 2: Subject Files, Subseries 3: Legislation (1851-1994) consists of correspondence, articles, memoranda, and Congressional bills, resolutions, reports, and testimony relating to a wide variety of legislative and administrative issues of concern to the AAIA. These are embodied in sometimes voluminous subject files and an extensive series of memoranda containing synopses of governmental activities impinging on Native Americans. The bulk of the latter were prepared for general circulation by the AAIA's general counsel. The scope of this subseries reflects the importance the AAIA attached to effecting change in Washington, be it in a supportive or an adversarial role. Leaders of the Association such as President Oliver La Farge, General Counsel Richard Schifter, and Executive Director William Byler took an interest in everything from the implications of Alaskan statehood to the protection and repatriation of Indian remains and artifacts to the transfer of civil and criminal jurisdiction from federal to state authorities. Attention was given to measures affecting every tribe, such as the far-reaching Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, which sought to give Native Americans a meaningful say in programs intended for their benefit, as well as to localized initiatives, such as the resolution politicizing the superintendency of the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma in 1935.

Some matters, of course, received more attention than others. Files such as "Pueblo Lands," which documents the formative struggle of the AAIA, then known as the Eastern Association on Indian Affairs, to safeguard the dwindling land base of New Mexico's Pueblo Indians in the 1920s, and "Indian Child Welfare Act," a major focus of concern in the 1970s and 1980s, are remarkable for their depth. Such files illustrate the significant role played by the AAIA in influencing Congressional action not only through detailed critiques but through the submission of draft legislation. Although other files, such as those addressing issues of economic development, juvenile alcohol and drug abuse, law enforcement, and sanitation, are not as large, they, too, shed light on the sometimes subtle, sometimes explicit pressures exerted by the AAIA when policymakers considered laws and regulations affecting Native Americans.

Not only does this subseries chronicle many decades of public debate over the proper scope and direction of federal Indian policy, but it offers insights into the internal discussions which determined the nature and tone of the AAIA's position in this volatile arena. In either case, the stakes were large, for if these files make one thing plain, it is that the federal government has exercised enormous influence for good and ill in the lives of Native Americans. Indeed, their very survival as tribal entities has, at times, hung in the balance. Even when legislation favorable to them has been enacted, as in the case of the groundbreaking Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, there has been no guarantee that it would not be repealed or emasculated in a subsequent session of Congress. From the struggle over Indian religious freedom to the struggle over the termination of federal responsibilities, it is clear from this subseries that the AAIA has played a significant role in safeguarding fundamental Native American interests through legislative and administrative action.


The materials in this subseries are arranged in two general groupings: files containing legislative and administrative memoranda in chronological order are followed by files arranged alphabetically by subject or type of legislation (e.g., "Child Welfare" or "Appropriations"

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 3 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 3: Legislation; 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 291-328