Archives Unbound: Native American Studies

This collection includes political, religious, legal, medical, commercial, and military perspectives of Native American history. Users are provided a diverse collection of primary source materials dating from 1800 through the late 20th century.

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  • Native American Studies

    American Indian Correspondence: Presbyterian Historical Society Collection of Missionaries' Letters, 1833-1893 - The men and women of the Foreign Board of Missions served a variety of tribes. Their letters, intended to be reports from the field, are far more than dry discussions of mission business. Ranging in length from single fragments to reports of over twenty pages, they describe the Indian peoples and cultures, tribal factionalism, relations with the U.S. government, and the many problems and achievements of the work. The letters often become personal and even anguished, as the writers disclose their fears, worries, and hopes.

    Meriam Report on Indian Administration and the Survey of Conditions of the Indians in the U.S. - After 40 years of failed Indian policy, the U.S. Senate called these hearings to see what could be done to improve matters. Under the Dawes Act (or General Allotment Act) of 1887, tribal lands previously held in common by Indian nations had been split up into small parcels for individual owners. The government had said this was because it wanted to encourage self-sufficient farming, but under the Dawes Act some parcels could be sold to non-Indians and Native American owners could lose their land if they became too poor to pay taxes or debts. Forty years later the Secretary of the Interior ordered an investigation into the consequences of the Dawes Act, and in 1928 its160-page "Merriam Report" declared that allotment had been a disaster for Native American communities. Non-Indians had acquired almost half of all Indian lands in the U.S., and poverty, disease, and anger had all skyrocketed on reservations. In 1928 the Senate ordered the new hearings excerpted here, to figure out how to fix the situation. The hearings ultimately lasted for 15 years and filled 41 volumes of text.

    American Indian Movement and Native American Radicalism - Formed in 1968, the American Indian Movement (AIM) expanded from its roots in Minnesota and broadened its political agenda to include a searching analysis of the nature of social injustice in America. These FBI files provide detailed information on the evolution of AIM as an organization of social protest and the development of Native American radicalism.

    The Indian Trade in the Southeastern Spanish Borderlands: Papers of Panton, Leslie and Company - Comprising the papers of the Panton, Leslie & Co., a trading firm, this collection is the most complete ethnographic collection available for the study of the American Indians of the Southeast. More than 8,000 legal, political, and diplomatic documents recording the company’s operations for over half a century have been selected and organized for this collection.

    The War Department and Indian Affairs, 1800-1824 - This collection consists of the letters received by and letters sent to the War Department, including correspondence from Indian superintendents and agents, factors of trading posts, Territorial and State governors, military commanders, Indians, missionaries, treaty and other commissioners, Treasury Department officials, and persons having commercial dealings with the War Department, and other public and private individuals. In addition, attachments include vouchers, receipts, requisitions, abstracts, and financial statements, certificates of deposit, depositions, contracts, newspapers, copies of speeches to Indians, proceedings of conferences with Indians in Washington, licenses of traders, passports for travel in the Indian country, appointments, and instructions to commissioners, superintendents, agents, and other officials. 

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