NATIVE AMERICANS AND PUBLIC POLICY
A Guide to Resources at the Carl Albert Center Congressional Archives
Because of the relationship between the United States government and Native
Americans, some members of Congress have played prominent roles in Indian
policy and legislation, especially when their states or districts are home
to tribal headquarters and Native populations. These legislators conduct
research, sponsor bills, sit on Indian affairs committees and subcommittees,
monitor the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and other agencies, and communicate
with tribal leaders. Oklahoma has traditionally had one of the largest
Indian populations in the country, and its representatives have always
been keenly interested in policy affecting Native Americans.
The Carl Albert Center Congressional Archives at the University of Oklahoma
holds the papers of 51 former members of Congress, and over 30 of these
collections constitute an important resource for the study of Native American
policy, status, and conditions. All but a few of these legislators were
Oklahomans, and at least four—Robert L. Owen, William Stigler, Thomas Chandler,
and Jack Nichols—were of Indian descent. Most date from the twentieth century,
particularly the 1930s to the 1970s. The only nineteenth century collection
is that of Kansas representative Sidney Clarke. A few documents remain
from New Mexico Senator Carl Hatch. Many collections are extensive, such
as those of Carl Albert, Fred Harris, Tom Steed, and Elmer Thomas, but
even the smaller ones may contain a rich array of documents.
guide identifies materials for the study of Native American issues. Persons
interested in general discussions of the collections are referred to
A Guide to the Carl Albert Center Congressional Archives. Printed inventories
and a computer database are used at the Center to pinpoint relevant boxes,
folders, and, sometimes, documents. The archival staff has worked considerably
with the collections and will gladly advise researchers.
Pertinent documents include correspondence, legislation, reports, hearing
transcripts, meeting minutes, clippings, publications, speeches, maps,
and photographs. They are generally located in folders titled “Indian Affairs”
and “Indian Claims,” but some may be filed under “Interior,” “Health, Education,
and Welfare,” “Housing and Urban Development,” “Office of Economic Opportunity,”
or similar headings. For most collections, these materials are found in
the Legislative, Departmental, Subject, and General series, but some papers
may be uniquely arranged.
Researchers will find in these documents information on the government’s
evolving policy toward Native Americans, from creation of reservations
to allotment of land to reorganization of tribes to termination to self-determination.
Substantial materials exist on land, claims, tribal activities, federal
jurisdiction, health, education, and economic development. Most focus on
Indians of Oklahoma, but some concern those of other parts of the United
States. Not every subject can be discussed in this guide, but the collection
descriptions indicate the more prominent ones.
||Dates of Native American Materials
|Camp, John “Happy”
|Gassaway, P. L.
|Gensman, L. M.
|Gore, T. P.
|Kerr, Robert S.
|Morgan, Dick T.
|Murray, William “Alfalfa
|Owen, Robert L.
|Pine, W. B.
|Wilson, George Howard
During his distinguished and lengthy career in the House of Representatives
from 1947 to 1976, Carl Albert served the Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole
of Oklahoma’s Third District. His collection contains materials on these
tribes, as well as the Creek, Comanche, Osage, Cherokee, Kaw, Miami, Cheyenne,
Arapaho, Navajo, and Sioux. Topics other than those listed below include
construction of low-income housing, roads through tribal lands, the BIA
Arts and Crafts Board, use of eagle feathers, exemption or inclusion of
Native Americans under general federal programs, loans, taxation, agriculture,
and irrigation and water projects. For a lengthier discussion of Native
American resources in the Albert Collection, see W. Dale Mason, "The Carl
Albert Collection: Resources Relating to Indian Policy, 1963-1968,”
Chronicles of Oklahoma, 71 (Winter 1993-4), 422-437.
The controversy over the Choctaw and Chickasaw coal and asphalt lands is
prominent. Also represented are the dispute over the Arkansas River bed,
removal of restrictions on land, leasing of restricted land, issues of
inheritance, and land held by individual tribes.
Most files on this topic focus on funding or continuance of medical facilities
and Indian Health Service (IHS) programs in Oklahoma. Among the hospitals
represented are Talihina, Kiowa, Claremore, and Holdenville. In the Departmental
Series are several folders titled "Health, Education, and Welfare—Sula
Goodman." These date from the mid-1960s to the 1970s, contain correspondence
and newsletters from this officer of the Division of Indian Health in Oklahoma
City, and provide a look at Indian health activities in the state during
that time. Also documented here are water and sanitation systems in Indian
Several files address funding, programs, and sometimes closing of Indian
schools, especially Carter Seminary, Jones Academy, Chilocco School, Ft.
Sill School, Riverside School, and Wheelock Academy. In addition, there
is information on education programs, such as vocational and technical
training in Oklahoma.
TRIBAL AFFAIRS AND FEDERAL
During his years in Congress, Carl Albert corresponded with tribal leaders
and members of such organizations as the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five
Civilized Tribes. The letters in his collection contain information on
activities of tribes and selection of their leaders, especially Choctaw
Principal Chief Harry Belvin and Chickasaw Governor Overton James. Other
documents cover appropriation and disbursement of funds and judgments.
There are materials on enrollment claims and lists of enrolled living members,
particularly of the Choctaw and Chickasaw. Occasionally, jurisdiction over
crimes appears in these documents.
Federal recognition of Indian tribes is well presented in the Albert
Collection. In the Legislative Series, some folders from the 1950s cover
bills "to terminate U. S. supervision over tribes," including the Klamath
of Oregon and the Choctaw of Oklahoma. Albert helped draft the Choctaw
Termination Act of 1959, but he also worked for its repeal in 1970.
As part of President Johnson's Great Society, the Bureau of Indian Affairs
and Office of Economic Development administered grants, training and employment
programs, and business development, and Albert kept tabs on these activities
in Oklahoma. Specifically documented are the Creek Nation Neighborhood
Youth Corps, Oklahomans for Indian Opportunity (OIO), and Americans for
Indian Opportunity (AIO).
Additional information on the Carl Albert Collection
An Oklahoma senator from 1973 to 1978, Bartlett sponsored legislation affecting
Native Americans and served as the ranking minority member of the Senate
Select Committee on Indian Affairs. Eleven boxes of his collection are
labeled "Indian Files" and form a substantial portion of the Subject Series.
They are arranged alphabetically by topic and include documents on Arkansas
River bed negotiations, health (including specific hospitals and tribal
programs), eagle feather use, housing (including several folders on Indian
Affairs Subcommittee hearings in Oklahoma), and Small Business Administration
loans. There is substantial constituent correspondence on the incident
at Wounded Knee and a proposed reservoir for central Arizona Indians. Scattered
throughout is correspondence to Bartlett from Don Bluejacket, one of the
senator’s Tulsa office field representatives who provided background information
on activities and opinions at home. The Legislative Files contain a smaller
number of documents on business loans, economic development, bilingual
election procedures, funding, and claims.
Several folders exist on BIA reorganization and the agency offices in Muskogee
and Anadarko, Oklahoma. Additional files are on the Senate Indian Affairs
Committee and contain memos with Chair James Abourezk and staffer Hazel
Elbert. Documents on making the committee permanent, a GAO report on IHS
research and sterilization programs, and the bill for the American Indian
Religious Freedom Act also exist here, as do Bartlett’s materials on legislation
to create the American Indian Policy Commission, reports and publications
by or about the commission, and the commission’s BIA management study.
The Bartlett Collection also contains numerous materials on the shift from
termination to self-determination policy.
TRIBAL AFFAIRS AND LAND CLAIMS
There are folders on the reorganization of the Osage tribal government
and distribution of judgment monies to the Seminole and Delaware. There
are also numerous folders on the Creek government, Sac and Fox claims,
and government land trusts.
Information on Riverside and Concho schools in Oklahoma can be found in
the Bartlett Collection, as can reports on the use of Johnson-O'Malley
funds in Oklahoma and other states. Several files concern the creation
of the Department of Education and the intended transfer to it of Indian
education programs, a proposal that prompted negative reaction from many
of Bartlett’s Indian constituents.
Additional information on the Dewey Bartlett
Although Belcher did not sit on the pertinent committees, his collection
nevertheless contains a substantial amount of Indian affairs material for
the years 1951-1972. Topics include employment, business development, health
care, Claremore Hospital, peyote, the OIO, the Indian Business Development
Fund, and social issues. There is information on the following Indian nations:
Black Hill Sioux, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Chickasaw, Chippewa (Ojibwa),
Choctaw, Comanche, Creek, Delaware, Yuchi (Euchee), Iowa, Kaw, Kickapoo,
Kiowa, Klamath, Miami, Menominee, Missouri, Navajo, Osage, Otoe, Pawnee,
Peoria, Ponca, Potawatomi, Quapaw, Seneca, Shawnee, Wyandotte, and Wichita.
A variety of subtopics on Indian lands can be explored in the Belcher Collection.
Issues specific to Oklahoma Indians include homestead allotments; the Arkansas
River bed; Pawnee land titles; Osage, Otoe, Ponca, and Choctaw mineral
rights; Yuchi land leases and bounty land warrants; and Absentee Shawnee
trust lands. There are also numerous documents on the Klamath Forest, land
for emigrant New York Indians, and Alaskan homesteading and mineral matters.
Belcher’s files dating from the 1960s contain documents on such schools
as Chilocco, Pawnee, Eufaula, Red Rock, St. Labre, Ft. Sill, Indian Mission,
and Concho, as well as Murrow Indian Orphans Home. Also documented are
scholarships, vocational training programs, Oglala Sioux education programs,
and the Neighborhood Youth Corps.
TRIBAL AFFAIRS AND FEDERAL JURISDICTION
This collection contains constitutions of various Indian nations and correspondence
with leaders of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and other tribes. There
are also materials on the Indian Claims Commission, reports on the investigation
of the BIA, and documents on that agency’s reorganization. Among the pieces
of legislation is a bill for disposition of judgment monies to the Iowa.
Also here are case files dealing with inheritance, roll identification,
Additional information on the Page Belcher Collection
A small amount of Native American material exists in the papers of this
congressman who served from 1937 to 1946. Boren’s district encompassed
the boundaries of the Seminole Nation, and in his collection are documents
on issues pertaining to the tribal affairs: per capita payments to tribal
members, the demolition and construction of buildings at Mekasukey Mission,
a legal suit concerning oil and gas mining leases, and sale of illegally
taxed land. The collection contains correspondence with John Burgess of
the Seminole Indian Council. Topics involving other Indians include the
Arkansas River bed dispute in Pawnee County, Oklahoma; requests for a claims
commission; continuance of schools, such as Eufaula and Euchee; Thlopthlocco
Town; Shawnee Sanatorium; investigation of BIA activities in eastern Oklahoma;
hospitals in Oklahoma; Creek tribal requests for a hospital; sale of Chickasaw-owned
dormitories; sale of 3.2 beer to Oklahoma Indians; and BIA employment of
Additional information on the Lyle Boren Collection
JOHN “HAPPY” CAMP
Camp represented Oklahoma's Sixth District—the westernmost in the state—in
the U. S. House from 1969 to 1974 and sat on the Interior and Insular Affairs
Committee. Numerous files on policy and activities affecting Native Americans
in Oklahoma, Alaska, and other states can be found under the usual headings
as well as "Civil Rights," "Oklahoma Colleges," and "Revenue Sharing.”
Topics include financial assistance, half-breed Kaw heirs, BIA reorganization
and policy changes, economic development, education, health care, Claremore
Hospital, the BIA’s Anadarko office, claims, and selection of tribal leaders.
Among the tribes mentioned are Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, Chickasaw, Choctaw,
Delaware, Pawnee, and Ponca.
John Happy Camp did not author major bills, but
he was interested in Native American issues. In his collection the files
labeled “Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs” contain information
gathered for the Alaska Native Land Claims bill and include materials from
the Arctic Slope Native Association and the Alaska Federation of Natives.
A box titled "Indian Affairs" covers such topics as the Wounded Knee incident,
Taos Indian’s Blue Lake, and the Navaho-Hopi dispute. The series Camp Bills
reveals other legislative accomplishments.
Additional information on the John “Happy” Camp Collection
Cartwright influenced numerous issues involving Indian lands, health care,
relief efforts, and education from 1927 to 1942, when he represented Oklahoma’s
Third Congressional District, home to many Chickasaw and Choctaw. During
this time he also sat on the Indian Affairs Committee. Over 60 files in
his collection document this work.
The Wilburn Cartwright Collection contains documents
on the extension of leases for mineral rights, tax relief, and Chickasaw
and Choctaw coal and asphalt lands. Typescripts exist describing the effect
on Indians of oil, coal, and gas extraction during the early 1900s. Some
documents discuss the sale and leasing of lands of eastern Oklahoma’s five
major tribes. Other materials focus on the lands of the Ute, Otoe, Missouri,
Mississippi Choctaw, and Sioux Indians.
These papers contain materials on federal programs to distribute grants
and loans or provide vocational training to Oklahoma Indians during the
1930s, and there are materials on Red Cross relief efforts for destitute
Indians. Also documented are the effects of severe droughts and floods
on Native American lands. The Photograph Collection contains over 150 images
from “Pictorial Report of Activities in Oklahoma-Kansas Area, U. S. Indian
Service” (1939). Hospital construction was another area of federal involvement,
and the collection contains documents and photographs on Talihina and other
Oklahoma hospitals. Additional information on holdings concerning the Great
Depression can be found on another Carl Albert Center Web page.
Ben Dwight, principal chief of the Choctaw tribe, corresponded frequently
with the congressman, and he advocated day schools and care of Indian orphans
by Native American families. Also within the Cartwright files are five
issues of the magazine The Oklahoma Indian School (all1932). Included
in the Photograph Collection are 50 images of Oklahoma Indian schools during
Besides the Dwight correspondence, the collection also contains letters
with James Buchanan, Charles W. Burke, John J. Cochran, John Collier, Melvin
Cornish, Homer Cummings, Ben Cravens, Charles Curtis, Edwin L. Davis, William
Fuller, Harold L. Ickes, Lynn J. Frazier, Milton Garber, T. P. Gore, J.
W. Harreld, W. W. Hastings, Edgar Howard, Patrick Hurley, Royal C. Johnson,
Charles J. Kappler, Robert S. Kerr, Josh Lee, “Alfalfa Bill” Murray, Robert
L. Owen, Charles J. Rhoads, Will Rogers, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Scott Leavitt,
Thomas D. McKeown, W. B. Pine, F. B. Swank, William Stigler, Edward Taylor,
Elmer Thomas, Claude Weaver, Burton Wheeler, and Ray L. Wilbur.
Additional information on the Wilburn Cartwright
Thomas Chandler, full-blooded Cherokee Indian, was born in Indian Territory
in 1871 and served two terms (1917-1919, 1921-1923) as representative of
northeastern Oklahoma’s First District. While in the House, he sat on the
Committee for Indian Affairs, and he once wrote a constituent “as long
as I am in congress the full blood Indian will always have a friend.” This
small collection contains approximately 30 pieces of constituent correspondence
on Native American issues dating 1917-1919. They discuss affairs of the
Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole; Osage oil and gas royalties; division of
lands; military service; the Osage Progressive Party; Indian and freedmen
claims; an Indian delegation trip to Washington, D.C.; the Sequoyah statue
in the Capitol Building’s Statuary Hall; congressional appropriations;
and alleged buried treasure of the Cherokee.
Additional information on the Thomas Chandler
Sidney Clarke settled on the Kansas frontier in 1859, served in Congress
from 1865 to 1871, advocated the opening of Indian Territory lands in the
1880s, moved to Oklahoma in 1889, and became Oklahoma City’s mayor shortly
thereafter. His papers contain over 200 files on nineteenth century Native
With passage of the Dawes Act of 1887 and subsequent legislation, federal
policy dictated the dismantling of reservations, allotting of land to individual
Native Americans, and opening of unallotted land to homesteaders. The Clarke
Collection contains numerous materials on legislation allowing for homesteading
on Indian land, removal of restrictions, and sale of Kansas trust lands.
Several documents concern development of Indian lands by railroads and
settlers. There is correspondence on the leasing of public lands for Christian
missions and educational functions.
A unique aspect of the Clarke Collection is the numerous documents on the
negotiations, drafting, and implementation of treaties between the federal
government and the Kickapoo, Sac and Fox, Otoe, Missouri, Neosho, Osage,
Shawnee, Wyandotte, Kaw, Quapaw, Black Bob, Potawatomi, Ottawa, Seneca,
Confederated Peoria, Kaskaskia, Wea, Piankashaw, Miami, Kiowa, Choctaw,
Chickasaw, Seminole, Creek, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche, and Ponca. These
papers document constituent and newspaper reactions to the treaties and
removal of Indians from Kansas after the Civil War.
Located within the constituent correspondence is information on relations
between Native Americans, settlers, and ranchers on the Kansas frontier.
These documents provide an interesting and sometimes colorful look into
the social divisions of the late nineteenth century. There are claims made
by settlers against Indians, such as the capture and treatment of a Mrs.
Kelly and the theft of cattle, and there are also claims made by Indians
against settlers and ranchers. Crime in the territories and on Indian lands
is also documented. Correspondents include Captain John J. Boyd, Edwin
H. Grant, Thomas F. Cook, Susan B. Anthony, Stephen A. Cobb, Henry Laurens
Dawes, James B. Weaver, Daniel W. Voorhees, William M. Springer, William
Butterfield, and William Graham Sumner.
Additional information on the Sidney Clarke Collection.
One of the first settlers in Oklahoma’s Cherokee Strip in 1893, Garber
represented the state’s Eighth Congressional District from 1923 to 1932,
and he served on the House Indian Affairs Committee. Among the collection’s
7.5 cubic feet, only a few files (1928-1932) in the Subject Series pertain
to Indians, and they hold information on the Cherokee, Otoe, and Missouri
tribes; Chilocco School and education; and 1930 Oklahoma census data. Additional
information on the Milton Garber Collection.
P. L. GASSAWAY
This small collection of a one-term congressman (1935-1936) contains scattered
correspondence on tribal matters and federal policy. Included is a resolution
from the Mexican Kickapoo opposing Gassaway’s bill affecting title to their
Additional information on the P.L. Gassaway
L. M. GENSMAN
These documents from Gensman’s congressional service, 1921-1922, cover
land, education, monetary claims, and peyote. Correspondence on the last
topic indicates a diversity of opinion on usage for religious purposes.
Gensman represented Oklahoma’s Sixth Congressional District, and his papers
contain documents regarding the Osage, Kiowa, Apache, Chippewa (Ojibwa),
Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche, White Earth, Wichita, Choctaw, and Chickasaw.
Additional information on the L.M. Gensman Collection.
T. P. GORE
Gore represented Oklahoma in the Senate, 1907-1921 and 1931-1936. In a
scrapbook recording his career are clippings on a 1910 scandal in which
the senator exposed a bribery scam concerning Chickasaw land deals. In
addition, the collection contains a 1935 photo of Gore with Chief Albert
Attocknie and Comanche and Kiowa leaders as well as a speech on Indians
titled “Sovereign People of Oklahoma.”
Additional information on the T.P. Gore Collection.
Harris served in the U. S. Senate from 1965 to 1972 and was a presidential
candidate twice during the 1970s. He was interested in race relations and
uniquely aware of issues involving Native Americans. His years as senator
bridged the administrations of presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon,
and the contrasting affects on Indian policy are well represented in his
LaDonna Harris, the wife of Fred Harris during this
time, was an active member of the Comanche tribe. She organized an Indian
education project at the University of Oklahoma that grew into Oklahomans
for Indian Opportunity (OIO), for which she served as president. President
Johnson appointed her to the National Council on Indian Opportunity, and
she later helped found and lead Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO).
The Fred Harris Collection contains some papers resulting from these projects.
The collection contains letters from teachers, administrators, and tribal
officials, who supported the Johnson administration’s efforts to recruit
highly qualified teachers. These people wrote about the isolation, cultural
and language barriers, and alienation that educators noticed among Indian
students. Later, during the Nixon administration, they complained about
budget cuts and pay reductions for certain teachers.
Numerous documents also concern specific Oklahoma schools, such as Ft.
Sill and Eufaula, and a proposal for an American Indian College at Pawnee,
Oklahoma. Schools in other states are also documented, including St. Francis
Indian Mission on the Rosebud Reservation, South Dakota; the Southwest
Indian Foundation in Gallup, New Mexico; numerous Navajo schools; and the
Phoenix, Arizona, BIA high school.
Other topics are addressed. There are materials on physical fitness,
fine arts programs, special education, library centers, and lowered teacher-pupil
ratios. Some files specifically concern higher education and associated
scholarships, special programs, and matriculation problems. The Indian
Law Opportunities Program at the University of New Mexico and special scholarships
at the University of Oklahoma are also represented.
SOCIAL, CULTURAL, AND ECONOMIC ISSUES
The Harris Collection contains information on a variety of social, economic,
and cultural subjects. There are materials on the transfer of responsibilities
from the Fish and Wildlife Service to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Confrontations
between the federal government and Native Americans over religious use
of peyote and feathers from bald eagles and scissor-tailed flycatchers
are documented in correspondence and legislation. The LaDonna Harris materials
contain information on economic opportunities and anti-poverty and nutrition
campaigns. Reports on Indian health programs can also be found here.
This collection contains materials on the claims of individuals and tribes
as well as inheritance issues. Among the tribal land issues discussed are
those in Oklahoma, Alaska, Washington, and New Mexico, including Colville
Reservation and Blue Lake. There are numerous documents concerning Native
American homesteading on public forest lands.
Activities of the following tribal governments can be found in the Harris
Collection: Navajo, Delaware, Ponca, Pawnee, Seminole, Choctaw, Crow, Creek,
Weott, Cherokee, Paiute, Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, Seneca, Chippewa (Ojibwa),
Waco, Arawak, Caddo, Lumbee, Sac and Fox, Cheyenne, Alabama, Coushatta,
Catawba, Shawnee, Wyandotte, Yakima, Osage, Chickasaw, Arapaho, Kaw, Kickapoo,
Miami, Omaha, Otoe, Missouri, Ottawa, Taos, Oglala Sioux, Peoria, Ponca,
Potawatomi, and Tiwa.
The Harrises corresponded with many Native Americans and prominent non-Indians
about Indian issues. Indian correspondents include Joe Attocknie, author
of “A Life Sketch of Ten Bears"; B. Frank Belvin, president of the Inter-Tribal
Council of the Five Civilized Tribes; Wilbur S. Nye, autobiographer of
Jason Belzinez; and such tribal leaders as Overton James, Fred Bushyhead,
and Ben Whiteshield. There are also numerous letters to politicians and
concerned citizens, such as Stewart Udall, Stanley Draper, Charles P. Corkey,
Paul F. Sharp, Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy, Tom Payne, Tom Steed, Ed Edmondson,
Carl Hayden, Virgil Harrington, and Fisher Muldrow. Harris also corresponded
with Indian Affairs commissioners James E. Officer, Robert L. Bennett,
and Louis R. Bruce.
Additional information on the Fred Harris Collection.
Hatch represented New Mexico in the Senate from 1933 to 1942. All that
remains of his papers are three bound volumes summarizing bills he introduced.
Pertinent ones concern land for Acoma Pueblo, grants to compensate non-Indians
dispossessed at Nambe Pueblo, purchase of lands for the Mescalero Apache
reservation, and payments to the San Felipe Pueblo and Taos Pueblo’s Alberta
Cruz. Additional information on the Carl Hatch Collection.
This small collection dates from Johnson’s tenure in the House, 1927-1947.
Among these files are clippings about his legislative proposals concerning
the Kiowa Indian Hospital and the Concho, Riverside, and Ft. Sill schools.
There is also a report on his proposed $50 per capita distribution of Red
River oil money to members of the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache.
Additional information on the Jed Johnson Collection.
ROBERT S. KERR
A one-term governor (1943-1947) and three-term senator (1949-1963), Kerr
was more interested in the exploration of space and development of water
resources than in conditions and status of Native Americans. Nevertheless,
his papers contain substantial amounts of correspondence, bills, speeches,
and press releases on the topic. Most materials are filed in the Legislative
(over four boxes) and Departmental (over two boxes) files, but some are
located in the Topical, Speech, and Printed series. Some speeches date
to 1941, but most documents were generated during Kerr’s senatorial years.
A variety of topics are covered: Choctaw and Chickasaw coal and asphalt
lands, tribal rolls, tribal elections and appointments, removal of restrictions
on land, Indian hospitals (such as Shawnee Sanatorium), Indian education
(in Oklahoma) and schools (such as Eufaula and Riverside schools), federal
termination policy, Goodland Indian Orphanage, Ft. Reno lands, claims,
money judgments, rehabilitation of particular tribes, and exploration of
Indian mounds. Filed in various boxes are documents on the BIA, especially
its Oklahoma offices, and the commissioners of Indian Affairs.
There is substantial material on practically all of Oklahoma’s tribes
and a lesser amount exists on such others as the Chippewa (Ojibwa), Yakima,
Navajo, and Sioux. The Osage Indians are particularly well represented,
with materials on the proposed termination of their mineral reservation,
extension of the tribal council, and reopening of tribal rolls. A listing
of other tribes follows: Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole,
Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Quapaw, Otoe, Missouri, Seneca
(Cayuga), Sac and Fox, Shawnee, Kickapoo, Pawnee, Ponca, Wyandotte, Caddo,
Potawatomi, Delaware, Kaw, Wichita, and Yuchi (Euchee).
Additional information on the Robert S. Kerr Collection.
McClintic served as representative from Oklahoma’s Seventh District from
1915 to 1934. His collection contains a limited number of case files on
Native Americans, such as one on Indian scout Bear Bow’s claim for back
pay and pension from the federal government. A few other documents refer
to Indian legislation and decisions on certain Indian wards.
Additional information on the James McClintic
Although Monroney’s congressional career lasted from 1938 to 1968, the
bulk of his papers date 1962-1968. Nearly 15 cubic feet of files contain
some documents on Native American issues.
There are documents on Oklahoma Indian land laws and on the lands of the
Apache, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Chickasaw, Comanche, Kaw, Kickapoo, Potawatomi,
Quapaw, Sac and Fox, Shawnee, and Wyandotte. Other materials describe claims
of Native Americans from Alaska, Montana, New Mexico, and South Dakota.
Much correspondence concerns estate cases and heirs.
In Box 17 of the collection is one folder on 1962 legislation to allocate
$14,000,000 as payment for Cherokee land claims. Correspondents of this
issue included Cherokee Principal Chief W. W. Keeler and counsels Jesse
L. Ballard, Earl Boyd Pierce, Dennis Bushyhead, and George E. Norvell.
HEALTH AND EDUCATION
The Monroney papers contain information on the Indian Health Program (IHP)
among the Osage and the impact of the Shawnee Sanatorium on Oklahoma Indians.
In addition, there are numerous documents discussing the education of Indians
of Oklahoma and other states. The collection contains brochures and other
documents about Holy Rosary Mission in South Dakota, Ft. Sill and Chilocco
schools in Oklahoma, St. Labre School in Montana, and the Santa Fe Indian
Arts Institute in New Mexico.
During the 1960s the Area Redevelopment Administration (ARA) and Office
of Economic Opportunity (OEO) established programs in Oklahoma’s poorer
rural counties and provided assistance to organizations aiding Native Americans.
The Monroney Collection contains materials documenting the Oklahoma Indian
Council, Head Start, industrial projects, and other programs that sprang
Additional information on the Mike Monroney Collection.
DICK T. MORGAN
Morgan settled in Oklahoma in 1889, successfully ran for a congressional
seat in 1908, and served until his death in 1920. Only a few documents
in his papers relate to Native American issues: “Morgan’s Manual on the
Rosebud Reservation,” “Morgan’s Quarter Sectional Map of the Kiowa, Comanche
and Wichita Reservation ,” “Morgan’s Manual of Indian Territory Land
Laws,” and a proclamation on the opening of Kiowa-Comanche lands.
Additional information on the Dick T. Morgan Collection.
Toby Morris sporadically represented western Oklahoma’s Sixth Congressional
District from 1947 to 1960. He served on the Public Lands Committee. His
papers hold a substantial amount of material on Native Americans of Oklahoma,
Alaska, other states, and Canada. Topics are described below. Important
correspondents are historian Angie Debo, Commissioner of Indian Affairs
Glenn L. Emmons, and President Dwight Eisenhower. There are letters to
and from Harris Ellsworth, Reva Beck Bosone, Wayne N. Aspinall, John R.
Murdock, Frank T. Bow, and Wesley A. D’Ewart.
Within the collection is a 1947 Indian Service pamphlet titled “Ten Years
of Tribal Government Under the I. R. A.” Additional correspondence and
literature from Morris’s congressional tenure also concerns this topic.
Materials exist on the transfer to tribal governments of power over asset
disposition. Some documents concern tribal control over resources and development
of economic enterprises. Others are on the right to hire counsels; negotiate
with federal, state, and local governments; obtain information on appropriation
estimates; and draft constitutions. Legislation introduced by Morris and
other members of Congress cover topics from land use to social security
privileges. Several bills concern “rehabilitation” of tribes, including
Morris’s “to promote the rehabilitation of the Navajo and Hopi Tribes of
Indians and the better utilization of the resources of the Navajo and Hopi
Indian Reservations.” Additional documents refer to policies on burial
interments and administration of Talihina Indian Hospital.
For many of Oklahoma’s Native Americans, the 1940s and 1950s were difficult
times. In 1951 Angie Debo wrote to Morris, “the Indians, who less than
fifty years ago owned half of what is now the State of Oklahoma, live in
appalling poverty . . . . Misrepresentation, power of attorney, forgery,
kidnaping, even murder were employed to obtain their land, or they were
placed under guardianship and plundered through the probate courts.” Among
the land issues addressed in the collection are inheritance, allotment,
mineral rights, dam construction, soil conservation, and wildlife disposition.
There are documents on Cheyenne-Arapaho land taken for the Canton Dam in
Oklahoma and Ft. Berthold Reservation land for the Garrison Dam in North
Dakota. Also discussed here are properties of numerous Oklahoma and non-Oklahoma
Indians: Navajo, Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, Caddo, Eastern Cherokee, Sac
and Fox, Potawatomi (Canada), Klamath, Delaware, Yuchi (Euchee), Hopi,
Crow, Shoshone, Wyandotte, and Sioux. Dating 1947-1948, there is one file
under “Public Lands” on claims made by the heirs of White Antelope, the
Cheyenne Chief killed in the Sand Creek Massacre.
EDUCATION AND HEALTH
Debo also wrote to Morris about problems with education and boarding schools
in which more than 2000 eastern Oklahoma Indians were enrolled: “At present
the Indian service is concentrating on a more degraded class; . . . these
new enrollees reveal unspeakably sordid conditions of parental—and incipient
juvenile—delinquency.” Her suggestion to Morris was to “work out a policy
of prevention rather than salvage. There is something wrong about the reckless
propagation of children that become a public charge and can be rescued
from delinquency only by expensive and specialized training.” During the
late 1940s and early 1950s, reduction of the Interior Department’s budget
threatened the closing of Oklahoma’s Goodland Indian Orphanage and Concho,
Riverside, and Ft. Sill schools. The files contain much legislation and
correspondence on this as well as on the Navajo Reservation education system.
Also included are public documents indicating statistical analysis of costs
and success of various educational policies and tribal manifestations.
The Morris Collection also contains constituent correspondence on such
health topics as tuberculosis, epidemics of social disease, and the need
Additional information on the Toby Morris Collection.
WILLIAM “ALFALFA BILL” MURRAY
In the 1890s Alfalfa Bill became legal advisor to Chickasaw Governor Douglas
Johnston, and in 1899 he married the boss's niece Alice. While in Congress
during the 1910s, he sat on the Indian Affairs Committee and worked on
legislation affecting Native Americans. Little remains on Native Americans
in the Murray papers, however. Much of what does exist is his formal or
published views on Indian topics. From the 1910s are Congressional Record
remarks and speech typescripts on Indian legislation. Most concern appropriations
to eastern Oklahoma tribes and allotment of their land. There is also a
speech against opening the Choctaw rolls to include Mississippi Choctaw
and one on disposition of the Choctaw and Chickasaw coal and asphalt lands.
In addition, filed under "Memoirs of Governor Murray and a True History
of Oklahoma," is Murray's research for this 1945 book; it contains information
on the early Indian history of Oklahoma.
Scattered throughout the collection are materials on miscellaneous topics.
These include a 1929 clipping on proposals to replace Johnston as Chickasaw
governor and a 1929 speech by Johnston at a Chickasaw convention. There
is also a typed copy of a charter for the establishment of Couch College
in the Chickasaw Nation (1899), correspondence on a speech Murray gave
before the American Indian Federation (1939), and a letter from Johnston
to Alice Murray about congressional legislation (1936).
Additional information on the William "Alfalfa
Bill" Murray Collection.
Nichols represented Oklahoma’s Second Congressional District from 1935
to 1943. His collection contains correspondence with Commissioner John
Collier, former Senator Robert L. Owen, and Creek chiefs Alex Noon and
Roly Leonard. There is also an informational scrapbook which describes
his opposition to the Thomas-Rogers bill (Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act).
Additional information on the Jack Nichols Collection.
ROBERT L. OWEN
Although Owen was part Cherokee and his career involved him in the affairs
of eastern Oklahoma tribes, his papers contain little on Native Americans.
A 1947 tribute to him by historian Grant Foreman does recount his career
as Muskogee Indian agent during the 1880s. The collection also holds an
abstract of Edward E. Keso’s biography. It indicates Owen played a role
in the 1901 act granting U. S. citizenship to Native Americans in Indian
Territory. There is also a 1912 Senate speech by the senator calling for
immediate sale of Choctaw and Chickasaw coal and asphalt lands.
Additional information on the Robert L. Owen Collection.
The collection of Peden, one-term member of Congress from Altus, Oklahoma,
contains only a few folders on Native Americans, and these are dated 1947-1948.
They include one of correspondence between the congressman and J. H. Belvin
concerning the funding of Indian schools in Oklahoma, the leasing of coal
and asphalt lands, and the leaders of the Chickasaw and Choctaw. A couple
of folders labeled "Cheyenne-Arapaho" deal with federal acquisition of
Indian land for the reservoir at Canton, Oklahoma, and Indian claims to
land at Ft. Reno, Oklahoma. The final folder is titled "Public Lands Committee:
Indian Affairs" and contains documents on miscellaneous topics, including
the coal and asphalt lands and proposals to terminate federal supervision
of Native Americans.
Additional information on the Preston Peden Collection.
W. B. PINE
This collection contains only one 1929 newspaper clipping on the Choctaw
principal chief. Additional information on the W.B.
Schwabe represented northern Oklahoma’s First Congressional District, 1945-1948
and 1951-1952. His collection contains materials on the affairs of such
tribes as Apache, Choctaw, Comanche, Creek, Delaware, Hopi, Kaskaskia,
Kiowa, Miami, Missouri, Navajo, Osage, Otoe,Ottawa, Pawnee, Peoria, Piankashaw,
Potawatomi, Quapaw, Seneca, Shawnee, and Wyandotte. Numerous documents
concern appropriations for payments to the Osage. Some detail the distribution
of monies by the BIA to various tribes. Others contain information on removal
of restrictions on land, homestead allotments, oil and gas leases, sale
of land, estates, highway rights-of-way, inheritance, eye disease, alleged
communist infiltration of reservations, peyote use, and the burning of
records of the Five Civilized Tribes. Correspondents include Ray McNaughton,
William Brophy, Freddie Washington, Elmer Thomas, William Stigler, George
Sanchez, and Joseph Shunkahmolah. The collection also houses ten folders
originally from the files of Schwabe’s predecessor, Wesley E. Disney. Dating
1920-1939, they focus on the Osage Civilization Fund bill and Pawnee claims.
Additional information on the George Schwabe Collection.
Although this Shawnee, Oklahoma, representative never served on an Indian
Affairs Committee nor focused on legislation affecting Native Americans,
his papers constitute a valuable resource. Dating 1951-1980, many files
concern the activities, interests, and legal battles of Oklahoma tribes.
Documents are located under the usual headings in the typical series, as
well as under "Banking and Currency, Indian Housing;" "Appropriations,
Interior, Indian Affairs;" and "Oklahomans for Indian Opportunity.” The
Information Files contain additional materials.
CLAIMS AND JUDGMENTS
Many documents in the Departmental and Legislative series concern tribal
claims, judgments, awards, payments, and distributions. Tribes include
the Loyal Creek, Kiowa, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Otoe, Missouri, Sac and Fox,
Delaware, Potawatomi, Ft. Sill Apache, Seminole, Kaw, Seneca (Cayuga),
and Cherokee. The General Files contain three folders on claims made by
the Yuchi (Euchee) and one on those of the Potawatomi.
Many folders document health care, and a frequent topic is Oklahoma hospitals
and clinics. These include the Lawton Hospital (in Legislative Files);
the Shawnee Sanatorium (in the General Files); and the Shawnee, Concho,
and Claremore facilities (Departmental Files). The Information Files hold
a 1957 report on Oklahoma public health services.
Several series contain documents on Oklahoma Indian schools and education
programs, particularly those at Chilocco, Concho, Ft. Sill, and Riverside.
Numerous materials on construction projects at Riverside School during
the 1970s can be found in the General Files.
Steed communicated frequently with tribal leaders, and the collection’s
correspondence cover economic development, water rights, election or appointment
of leaders, and proposed projects. Correspondents include chiefs of the
Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, and other tribes. There are also letters
between Steed, the BIA, and non-governmental organizations. Of interest
in the Information Files is a 1975 position paper by the United Tribes
of Western Oklahoma and Kansas.
The Departmental Series contains materials on tribal membership. A number
of folders from the 1950s and 1960s concern the opening of Sac and Fox
rolls. Information on the Cherokee rolls can also be found in a least one
There are documents on the 1950s BIA termination policy, especially
applied to the Ft. Sill Apache, Choctaw, and Osage. The Legislative Files
hold resolutions by Indians and a letter by Angie Debo against the policy.
In the Information Files is a report on 1953 hearings on termination of
federal supervision over the Osage; in Departmental is a contemporary statement
from tribal leader George Labadie.
Tribal attempts to sell or acquire land is the topic of scattered documents
in the Legislative Series. Included are Ft. Reno, Cheyenne-Arapaho, and
Kiowa-Comanche-Apache lands. Problems with inheritance is another issue
repeatedly found in files dating 1960s-1970s.
Additional information on the Tom Steed Collection.
The only pertinent item in this collection is the circa 1943 “Patriotic
Indians” by Walter Colbert, chair of the American Indian Federation of
Southern Oklahoma. It lists contributions of eastern Oklahoma Indians to
World War I Liberty Loan drives and advocates sale of Choctaw and Chickasaw
coal lands to generate resources for World War II.
Additional information on the Paul Stewart Collection.
Stigler was of Choctaw descent and his papers reveal his interest in Native
Americans while he represented Oklahoma's Second District in Congress from
1944 to his death in 1952. Over seven cubic feet of files comprise the
Indian Affairs Series, and additional correspondence, speeches, newsletters,
and legislation can be found in the Legislative and Subject files.
In one of his first congressional acts, Stigler introduced a bill for the
federal government’s purchase of Choctaw and Chickasaw coal and asphalt
lands, and his papers contain substantial correspondence and other documents
on this and subsequent legislation, negotiations for the sale, and per
capita claims of the tribes. The collection also has information on other
issues: validation of land titles, restrictions on land, Cheyenne-Arapaho
claims to Ft. Reno land, and former Indian lands at Camp Gruber.
These papers primarily document eastern Oklahoma tribes. There are numerous
materials on the Cherokee, including the principal chief, claims of the
eastern and western Cherokee, and federal recognition of the Keetoowah
Society. Several files exist on the Chickasaw and the Quapaw. Materials
can also be found on the selection of the Choctaw principal chief; claims
of the Loyal Creek; and oil royalties, claims, and tribal leadership of
Numerous documents concern the government's oversight of Indian affairs.
Among the topics are treaty obligations to the Choctaw, creation and extension
of the Indian Claims Commission, and "emancipation" or termination of jurisdiction
over tribes, particularly the Osage. There are several files on the Indian
affairs commissioner, the BIA, and the district offices, particularly "Five
Civilized Tribes" agency and its personnel.
The Stigler Collection also contains materials on "rehabilitation" (economic
assistance) of eastern Oklahoma Indians, the Indian Credit Association,
education, Devi Dja (wife of artist Acee Blue Eagle), and Sequoyah weavers.
In addition, there are nearly two cubic feet of Indian case files and twenty-five
photographs depicting Chippewa (Ojibwa) at the Turtle Mountain Reservation
in North Dakota during the 1930s.
Additional information on the William Stigler
The Thomas Collection is an excellent resource for materials on early twentieth
century Indian issues. Thomas represented Oklahoma in the U. S. House (1923-1927)
and Senate (1927-1951), and he chaired the Senate Indian Affairs Committee
during the 1930s. His unpublished memoirs, “Forty Years a Legislator,”
and over three hundred files document Native Americans of Oklahoma and
his legislative work affecting them. This material exists in the Legislative,
Subject, Project, Resource, Special Correspondence, and Speech series.
Many files concern land issues of tribes in Alaska, California, Florida,
Georgia, Montana, Minnesota, North Dakota, Mississippi, New York, Oregon,
South Carolina, and other states. These include Catawba, Chickasaw, Choctaw,
Pawnee, Cherokee, Pueblo, Shawnee, Modoc, Sac and Fox, Kiowa, Osage, Quapaw,
Ute, Seminole, Otoe, Missouri, Wichita, Seneca, Creek, Comanche, Apache,
Chippewa (Ojibwa), Muskogee, Crow, Delaware, Kickapoo, Flathead, Sioux,
Winnebago, Omaha, Papago, Snake, Wyandotte, Yavapai, and Zuni. In “Forty
Years a Legislator," chapter 51 discusses events leading up to the sale
of Choctaw and Chickasaw coal and asphalt lands for approximately $8,500,000
in the 1940s.
Thomas's files also document individual property cases, particularly
that of Jackson Barnett, “the world’s richest Indian.” The government impounded
his wealth after he married a white woman, and many people contested the
estate after his death. During the late 1920s and 1930s, Thomas was drawn
into the dispute between the BIA, Barnett’s wife, and the Indian heirs,
and the collection contains correspondence on this, as well as the wife’s
chronicle of events.
Many documents in the Elmer Thomas Collection describe
health and living conditions of the Native Americans, as well as the situation
at particular health care institutions. Various aspects of medical care
are addressed, from the quarantining of boarding school children with tuberculosis
to the employing of Indians afflicted with venereal disease. Hearing transcripts
detail medical conditions. Some materials concern Oklahoma hospitals, especially
the Talihina, Kiowa, Ft. Sill, and Claremore facilities. Many individual
claims for health care are also documented.
“Oklahoma has over one hundred and forty thousand Indian citizens, many
of whom because of the drouth [sic] have raised nothing and are unable
to collect rentals on allotments because the lessee tenants have likewise
suffered complete crop failures . . . . [I] urge that liberal allotment
of funds be made direct to the Indian Bureau for use in relieving distress
among our Indian wards,” requested Thomas in a telegram to President Roosevelt
on September 22, 1936. The senator’s collection contains numerous documents
on economic conditions during the Great Depression and relief efforts of
the federal government. The Project and Subject files hold information
on payments to individual Native Americans as well as employment on Indian
service irrigation, flood control, road construction, and school construction
projects. Additional information on holdings concerning the Great
Depression can be found on another Carl Albert Center Web page.
The Elmer Thomas Collection contains many documents
about tribal affairs, organization, and jurisdiction. These include the
legislation allowing tribal self-government and economic enterprises and
providing for administrative and economic training. Prominent are materials
on the Indian Reorganization Act (Wheeler-Howard Act). The Subject Files
hold transcripts of hearings that Thomas held (and Commissioner John Collier
occasionally attended) to gauge reaction of Oklahoma Indians to this law.
This fact-finding tour resulted in the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act of 1936.
In 1931, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee instructed the BIA to provide
school facilities to Native American children, encourage attendance, establish
occupational and professional training programs, and employ competent and
sympathetic people. The Thomas papers gauge the agency’s success over the
next 20 years. Materials exist on tuition for schools and universities
and appropriations for construction of schools. Particularly abundant are
reports and legislation on Oklahoma’s Ft. Sill, Goodland, and Riverside
schools. There are also reports describing brutal treatment of some children
at boarding schools.
Elmer Thomas corresponded with numerous people concerning Native American
issues: James Buchanan, Charles W. Burke, John J. Cochran, John Collier,
Melvin Cornish, Homer Cummings, Ben Cravens, Charles Curtis, Edwin L. Davis,
Ben Dwight, William Fuller, Harold L. Ickes, Lynn J. Frazier, Milton Garber,
Pearl I. Glass, T. P. Gore, J. W. Harreld, Morton Harrison, W. W. Hastings,
Edgar Howard, Patrick Hurley, Royal C. Johnson, Charles J. Kappler, Robert
S. Kerr, Thomas Leahy, Josh Lee, “Alfalfa Bill” Murray, Robert L. Owen,
Charles J. Rhoads, Will Rogers, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Scott Leavitt, Thomas
D. McKeown, W. B. Pine, F. B. Swank, William Stigler, Edward Taylor, Claude
Weaver, Burton Wheeler, and Ray L. Wilbur.
The Thomas Collection contains three pictorial reports on Native Americans.
One depicts people, buildings, construction projects, and agricultural
operations at southern California’s Mission Indian Reservation (1938).
Another shows E.C.W. work and construction at Oklahoma’s Kiowa Indian Agency
(ca. 1933). A third documents agricultural and home economics training
conducted by Oklahoma A & M Extension Service (1929-1930). There are
additional individual photos of various people, a Rosebud Sioux delegation,
and a Senate-Blackfeet meeting.
Additional information on the Elmer Thomas Collection.
This collection contains only a few pertinent document, primarily speeches
by Weaver and others on Indian issues, such as the 1914 “A Century of Progress:
The Story of the Choctaw/Chickasaw Indians." There is also a typescript
of “Death of an Indian Chief," a nineteenth century story about the capture
of Ellen Burns by Apache in Texas and written by Weaver’s father.
Additional information on the Claude Weaver Collection.
Wickersham represented western Oklahoma in the U. S. House during various
terms between 1948 and 1964. Pertinent materials in his papers date from
1951 to 1956 and are primarily housed in boxes three and four. The majority
is constituent correspondence concerning claims, allotments, enrollment
requests, sale and leasing of land, the BIA Anadarko office, and the Concho
and Kiowa hospitals. Because Wickersham's districts encompassed former
Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche, and Kiowa reservations, many constituents
belonged to these tribes. Other materials in the collection include Indian
commissioner Glen Emmons's speeches and the BIA publication "The Osage
People and Their Trust Property" (1953).
Additional information on the Victor Wickersham
GEORGE HOWARD WILSON
The Subject Files of this congressional one-termer (1949-1950) contain
three folders labeled “Indian Matters.” The best represented topics are
Osage tribal matters and oil interests, Navajo tribal affairs and living
conditions, and the Pawnee Indian School. There is also correspondence
on Chilocco School and an Oklahoma state government report on Indian education.
In a folder titled "Ft. Sill Reserve Land,” in the Committee Files, is
a transcript of Indian Affairs Subcommittee hearings on the Ft. Reno Military
Additional information on the George Howard Wilson
For more information on the archival holdings, please contact
the Carl Albert Center.
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