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National Congress of American Indians records, 1933-1990 (bulk 1944-1989)

National Congress of American Indians
Bronson, Ruth Muskrat
Curry, James E. 1907-1972
Deloria, Vine
Harjo, Suzan Shown
McNickle, D'Arcy 1904-1977
Peterson, Helen L
Snake, Reuben 1937-1993
Tonasket, Mel
Trimble, Charles E
Arrow, Inc
National Congress of American Indians
National Tribal Chairmen's Association
United Effort Trust
United States American Indian Policy Review Commission
United States Bureau of Indian Affairs
United States Indian Claims Commission
bulk 1944-1989
20th century
Administrative records
Collection descriptions
Financial records
Physical Description
251 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
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is a major American Indian advocacy organization, designed to serve as a link between tribal governments and the United States government. NCAI was founded in 1944, in Denver, CO, as a membership organization for "persons of Indian blood." In 1955, group membership was limited to recognized tribes, committees, or bands. The organization is overseen by an Executive Council, which selects a five-member Executive Committee and an Executive Director. The Executive Director is then responsible for managing the organization's staff and overseeing its initiatives and everyday operations. Since 1944, NCAI has held annual conventions in the fall to elect officers and pass resolutions, which become the basis for the organization's policy positions. Beginning in 1977, a mid-year conference in May or June was added to provide further opportunities for in-depth exploration of issues.
Since its inauguration, NCAI has worked on a wide variety of issues facing Indians in the US. Some of those issues include voting rights, land claims, education, economic development, natural resource protection and management, nuclear waste, repatriation, and government-to-government relations with the federal government. In 1954, NCAI organized an emergency conference to protest the US government's newly-announced termination policy. NCAI has also frequently worked closely with other Indian organizations, such as the Native American Rights Fund and National Tribal Chairmen's Association, and with various government bodies, such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service.
The National Congress of American Indians designated the National Anthropological Archives (NAA) as its official repository in 1976. This collection was received by NAA in four accessions between 1976 and 1991. It was transferred from NAA to the National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center in 2006.
Organized into 21 series: 1) NCAI Conventions and Mid-year Conferences; 2) Executive Council and Executive Committee Files; 3) Correspondence; 4) Tribal Filess; 5) Records of Indian Interest Organizations; 6) NCAI Committees and Special Issues; 7) United Effort Trust (UET); 8) Attorneys and Legal Interest Groups; 9) Federal Indian Policy and Legislation Files; 10) Bureau of Indian Affairs; 11) State and Local Government Organizations; 12) Census; 13) General Alpha-Subject Files; 14) Records of Charles E. "Chuck" Trimble; 15) Records of Suzan S. Harjo; 16) Fundraising; 17) Business and Financial Record Files; 18) "Give-Away" Files; 19) Publications; 20) Photographs; 21) Audio and Film Recordings
The NCAI records document the organization's work, particularly that of its office in Washington, DC, and the wide variety of issues faced by American Indians in the twentieth century. The bulk of the material relates to legislation, lobbying, and NCAI's interactions with various governmental bodies. A large segment also concerns the annual conventions and executive council and executive committee meetings. Finally, the records also document the operations of the NCAI, including personnel, financial, and fundraising material. The collection also includes the records of two of NCAI's Executive Directors, Charles E. "Chuck" Trimble (1972-1977) and Suzan Shown Harjo (1984-1989). Included are correspondence, publications, reports, administrative records, photographs, and audio and video recordings.
Cite as
National Congress of American Indians Records, 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: 301/238-1400; fax 301/238-3038)
Data Source
National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center
See more items in
National Congress of American Indians records 1933-1990 (bulk 1944-1989)
United States
Usage conditions apply