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James E. Curry papers 1935-1955

Curry, James E. 1907-1972
Paul, William L Jr
Cohen, Henry
Cohen, Felix
Bingham, Jonathan
United States Bureau of Indian Affairs
National Congress of American Indians
Rosebud Sioux Tribe
Three Affiliated Tribes
Collection descriptions
Legal documents
Physical Description
121.7 linear feet
Restrictions & Rights
Access to NMAI Archive Center collections is by appointment only, Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment (phone: 301-238-1400, email:
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish or broadbast materials from the collection must be requested from National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center. Please submit a written request to
Local number
Alaskan natives
Aleut (Akutan, Pribilof Islands)
Fort Sill Apache
San Carlos Apache
Arapaho Oklahoma
Assiniboine Fort Belknap Fort Peck
Bannock Fort Hall
Cheyenne Northern Southern
Chippewa Lac Courte Oreilles
Choctaw Indians
Cocopa Indians
Coeur d'Alene Indians
Dakota Big Foot
Dakota Cheyenne River
Dakota Crow Creek
Dakota Devil's Lake
Dakota Flandreau
Dakota Fort Totten
Dakota Lower Brule
Standing Rock Agency
Eskimo Gambell Kiana
Haida Kasaan
Iroquois Indians
Kiowa Indians
Maricopa Gila River Salt River
Mohave Fort Mohave
Mohave Apache Fort McDowell
Navajo Indians
Paiute Fallon Fort McDermitt Moapa Pyramid Lake Shivwits Walker River Yerington
Pima Gila River Salt River
San Felipe
San Ildefonso
San Juan
San Ana
Seminole Florida Oklahoma
Shawnee Eastern
Shoshoni Fort Hall
Taos Pyote clan
Tlingit Angoon Craig Juneau Kake Ketchikan Klawak Klukwan Taku Wrangell
Tsimshian Metlakatla
Ute Uintah-Ouray
Zuni Indians
Chickasaw Indians
Osage Indians
Kansa Indians
Umatilla Indians
Fox Indians
Mandan Indians
Arikara Indians
Hidatsa Indians
Crow Indians
Yaqui Indians
Creek Indians
Catawba Indians
Menominee Indians
Comanche Indians
Seri Indians
Washo Indians
Nez Percé Indians
Omaha Indians
Cochiti Indians
Yavapai Indians
Delaware Indians
Sauk Indians
Isleta Indians
Caddo Indians
Winnebago Indians
Laguna Indians
Jemez Indians
Colville Indians
Havasupai Indians
Kootenai Indians
Klamath Indians
Kickapoo Indians
Oto Indians
Yakama Indians
Lummi Indians
Niska Indians
Stockbridge Indians
Tillamook Indians
Missouri Indians
Coeur d'Alene
Dakota Big Foot Cheyenne River Crow Creek Devilʹs Lake Flandreau Fort Totten Lower Brule Mdewakanton Oglala Rosebud Santee Sisseton Wahpeton Standing Rock Yankton
Kalispel Indians
Muckleshoot Indians
James E. Curry was trained in law in Chicago and practiced in that city from 1930 until 1936, serving part of that time as secretary of the local branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. From 1936 to 1938, he was an attorney with the United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs, being largely involved with matters of credit affecting Indians. From 1938 to 1942, he continued service with the Interior Department but worked in several capacities involving the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration, the department's Consumer Counsel Division, and the Puerto Rico Water Resources Authority.
In 1945, Curry returned to Washington and set up private practice, also maintaining for a time an office in Puerto Rico. In Washington, he became the attorney for the National Congress of American Indians and from that time until the 1950s his practice increasingly involved representation of American Indian tribes, mostly in claims against the federal government. In this work, for a time, he was involved in business relations with a New York Law firm that included Henry Cohen, Felix Cohen, and Jonathan Bingham.
He also often worked closely with lawyers who lived near the tribes he represented, William L. Paul, Jr., of Alaska, for example. This aspect of his practice--representing Indian tribes--was largely broken up during the early 1950s when the Commissioner of Indian Affairs began to use his powers to disapprove contracts between Curry and the tribes. In 1952 and 1953, his official relationship with the National Congress of American Indians was also ended. After this, while Curry continued until his death to act as a consultant in Indian claims with which he had earlier been involved, his career and life developed in a different direction.
The Curry papers were originally donated to the National Anthropological Archives by James E. Curry's daughter Mrs. Aileen Curry-Cloonan in December 1973. In 2007 The Curry papers were transferred from the National Anthropological Archives to the National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center along with several other records concerning American Indian law and political rights.
Addl. KW Subjects
(1) Day file, 1941-1955; (2) subject file regarding Indian affairs, most 1935-1955; (3) miscellaneous file regarding Indian affairs, most 1947-1953; (4) file regarding non-Indian affairs, n.d.; (5) miscellany, n.d
The material in the collection includes documents relating to many aspects of Curry's career but most of it relates to his work with Indian tribes and the National Congress of American Indians. For the most, the collection is made up of such materials as letters exchanged with government officials, Indians, and other attorneys; copies of legal documents; published government documents; notes; and clippings and other printed materials. Of particular significance is a subject file relating to Indian affairs.
It includes material concerning affairs of Alaskan natives and the Aleut (Akutan, Pribilof Islands), Apache (including Fort Sill, Jicarilla, Mescalero, San Carlos White Mountain), Arapaho (Southern), Assiniboine (Fort Belknap, Fort Peck), Bannock (including Fort Hall), Blackfeet, Caddo, Catawba, Cherokee (Eastern), Cheyenne (Northern, Southern), Chickahominy, Chickasaw, Chippewa (including Lac Courte Oreilles), Choctaw, Cochiti, Cocopa, Coeur d'Alene, Colville, Comanche, Creek, Croatan, Crow, Dakota (Big Foot, Cheyenne River, Crow Creek, Devil's Lake, Flandreau, Fort Totten, Lower Brule,
Mdewakanton, Oglala, Rosebud, Santee, Sisseton-Wahpeton, Standing Rock, Yankton), Delaware, Eskimo (including Gambell, Kiana), Flathead, Fox, Haida (including Kasaan), Havasupai, Hopi, Iroquois (Caughnawaga, Seneca, St. Regis), Isleta, Jemez, Kalilspel, Kansa (Kaw), Kickapoo, Kiowa, Klamath, Kutenai, Laguna, Lummi, Maricopa (Gila River, Salt River), Menominee, Missouria, Mohave (Fort Mohave), Mohave Apache (Fort McDowell), Muckleshoot, Navaho, Nez Perce, Niska, Nooksak, Omaha, Osage, Oto, Papago, Paiute (Fallon, Fort McDermitt), Moapa, Pyramid Lake, Shivwits, Walker River, Yerington),
Pima (Gila River, Salt River), Potowatomi, Quinaielt, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, San Juan, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Sandia, Sauk, Seminole (Florida, Oklahoma), Seneca, Seri, Shawnee (Eastern), Shoshoni (including Fort Hall), Sia, Spokan, Stockbridge, Taos (Pyote clan), Tesuque, Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan, Arikara, and Hidatsa), Tillamook, Tlingit (including Angoon, Craig, Juneau, Kake, Ketchikan, Klawak, Klukwan, Taku, Wrangell), Tsimshian (Metlakatla), Umatilla, Ute (including Uintah-Ouray), Walapai, Washo, Wesort, Winnebago, Wyandot, Yakima, Yaqui, Yavapai, Yuma, and Zuni.
There are also materials relating to Curry's work with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and National Congress of American Indians, and material that reflects his interest in conditions and events in given locations (often filed by state) and in organizations with interest in Indians. The material relating to Curry's work in Puerto Rico has been deposited in the Archivo General de Puerto Rico, Instituto de Cultura Puertorriquena, in San Juan.
Cite as
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); James E. Curry papers, Box and Folder Number; National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center, Smithsonian Institution
Repository Loc.
National Museum of the American Indian Archives, MRC-541, Cultural Resources Center, 4220 Silver Hill Road, Suitland, Maryland 20746. (tel: 301/238-6624, fax: 301/238-3038). Consult archivist by appointment
Data Source
National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of North Carolina
Santa Clara
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