Association on American Indian Affairs, Inc. Papers.

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Association on American Indian Affairs, Inc. Papers.  Housed at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, 65 Olden St., Princeton University Libraries, Princeton, NJ, 08544


The Association of American Indian Affairs (AAIA) is a Native American advocacy organization established in 1922 as the Eastern Association of Indian Affairs (EAIA).  The organization has assisted Indian groups in every state with a variety of issues.  Anthropologist and writer Oliver LaFarge became president in 1933, serving until 1943 and again from 1948 through 1955.  In 1937, the National Association on Indian Affairs (the renamed EAIA) merged with the American Indian Defense Association to form the American Association on Indian Affairs (renamed Association on American Indian Affairs in 1946).  Consult the Firestone Library’s finding aid for the AAIA's papers for an excellent introduction to and history of the AAIA.

Papers that are open (generally, those created more than 20 years ago and those not designated closed by the donor) and are related to the Lumbee include Box 329, Folder 1, 1960-1961 (147 pages) and Box 276, Folder 6, 1962-1974 (174 pages).  Papers may be used at the library, or you may contact the library and prepay to have the available papers photocopied for research purposes and mailed to you. With $10.00 postage included, the cost is $90.25.  One problem with this approach is that some items appear more than once in the two folders, so you're paying for multiple copies.  Contact the library at 609-258-6345.  An excellent overview of the papers can be seen at this Web site:

Materials in the two folders on the Lumbee include the following:

    • Correspondence in 1962 between Tally, Tally, & Strickland (attorneys in Fayetteville) and the AAIA attorney, Richard Schifter, regarding the East Carolina Indian School attended by children of fifteen to twenty Indian families in Sampson and Harnett counties.  This one school served elementary through high school levels (over 300 students), but the families felt its offerings were of inferior quality, particularly in science.  The families wanted improvements in the school.  If the Board of Education was unwilling to help, they would file suit.  Another development involved a lawsuit over Harnett County's refusal to admit Indian students to white schools (Chance et al vs. Harnett County Board of Education).
    • Multiple copies of a detailed, seven-page document entitled “School Desegregation Report: Staff Work with Lumbee Indians,” by the American Friends Service Committee dated 30 June 1962.  For a detailed annotation of this report, see The Lumbee Indians: an annotated bibliography, item 98.
    • Newspaper clippings and an editorial from Lumberton and Fayetteville papers for July, 1961 and June and July, 1962 regarding requests from 51 Lumbee children living in West Lumberton (which had been annexed by the city two years earlier). These children had been attending county schools and wished to be reassigned to Lumberton City Schools.  The Lumberton Board of Education turned down the students’ requests during an executive session.  The Indian families were represented by a Fayetteville attorney.
    • Correspondence (1962) between AAIA president Oliver LaFarge and AAIA attorney Richard Schifter on whether the organization should accept responsibility for assisting groups such as the Indians of Sampson County, since there were so many groups along the Eastern seaboard which “choose to classify themselves as Indian.” LaFarge’s initial reaction was (3 April 1962): “Unless we draw some line we can find ourselves involved in a broad war against partly racial and partly social prejudice of Southern and border states that could consume a crippling portion of our energies and finances.”   Attorney Schifter replied that the problems being continually referred to him involved the Lumbee, who were state-recognized.  Schifter noted that Helen Maynor Scheirbeck, who lived in Washington and worked on the Senate subcommittee on Civil Rights, was Lumbee and was appealing to AAIA for help, as was Mr. Bagwell, a local representative of the American Friends Service Committee.  He noted Lumbee concerns about the inadequacy of their separate schools and their growing realization that the only way to achieve equal education for their children was through integration.
    • Correspondence about how the AAIA would obtain the funding needed to assist the Lumbee in the school integration suit in Sampson County (since the Lumbee in Harnett County had been assisted by AAIA funds in their successful integration suit).
    • Clippings from the Dunn Dispatch, Raleigh Times, Greensboro Times, Winston-Salem Twin City Sentinel (1960 and 1961), and Chapel Hill Weekly on the various Harnett County cases.
    • A clipping (January 10, 1963) from The Sampsonian regarding a district court lawsuit asking that the Board of Education reassign Indian students to integrated schools, since the East Carolina Indian School was inferior to non-Indian schools in the county.
    • A memo regarding AAIA legal fees for the Harnett County case (Sampson County), which was not resolved until August 1963.
    • Copies of the complaint, answer to the interrogatories, and the judgement in the Sampson County case (Lonnie Ammons and wife, Ellen Ammons, et al vs. the Board of Education of Sampson County, N.C., et al, (3 September 1963), Eastern District of N.C., Fayetteville Division, 3 September 1963.
    • Copy of the memorandum of opinion in James Avery Chance and wife Myrtle Chance, et al vs. the Board of Education of Harnett County, et al, Eastern District of N.C., Wilmington Division, 30 December 1963, and a letter from AAIA attorney, Richard Schifter, concerning its outcome.
    • A two-page AAIA document, written around mid-1961, called “The Lumbees” which gives brief historical facts, states that “the group has been divided within itself and against itself,”and notes that they came to AAIA for legal assistance in enrolling their children in white public schools.  Notes also that the tribe is searching for a legal identity which would afford them the status needed to exercise their civil rights.  States, “They had a book, published in the Eighteenth Century, which said ‘Barbarous Indians live’ in their area.  They thought they had found proof they belong to a tribe called Barbarous and asked us to help them establish their identity in law” (p. 2).  The AAIA proposed conferences, to be held in September-October 1961, for any non-federally recognized Indians in North Carolina to help them plan for achieving quality.
    • Two letters from Luther C. Oxendine (July 7, 1970), written at the urging of Helen Schierbeck, to request AAIA assistance in delaying the HEW’s plan for Robeson County ’s school integration which was to go into effect September 1970.  Oxendine feared the plan would force many Indian children to change schools and be bused long distances.  He believed the Lumbee had not been properly represented or considered in formation of the plan.  He raised the “double voting” issue; for more information on double voting, see the Subject Index of The Lumbee Indians: an annotated bibliography, 1994.
    • Letter from Zelma Locklear, also requesting help suspending the school integration plans and threatening sit-ins by Indian children.
    • Copies of the HEW document (1) finding the Robeson County Board of Education not in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and (2) approving and describing the county's school desegregation plan.
    • A letter dated August 3, 1970, from AAIA's attorney to AAIA’s executive director concerning “the Lumbee problem” — i.e., Lumbee objections to the imminent school integration plan which would involve busing.  Notes the “double voting” issue as well as possible gerrymandering.  Asks for guidance on whether AAIA should get involved. Recommends that if AAIA does become involved, it confine its efforts to gerrymandering and double voting, rather than opposing school desegregation.
    • Copy of a September 13, 1970 New York Times article about school sit-ins in Robeson County and about a lawsuit filed by the Lumbee against the county school board, state governor, and HEW for busing numerous Indian children but few whites and blacks to achieve integration (for a citation and detailed annotation see The Lumbee Indians: an annotated bibliography, item 116).
    • A copy of a complaint filed by Tally, Tally, & Bouknight (attorneys) concerning Robeson County’s desegregation plan and a request by that firm for financial assistance from AAIA in fighting the plan.
    • Letters and supporting documents from United Southeastern Tribes (USET) (late 1974) regarding the Lumbee request for true federal recognition through a Congressional bill.  LRDA also sent the AAIA a report and a detailed letter which they hoped would counteract USET’s accusations, in their letters to AAIA, that the Lumbees are not “real Indians.”
    • 1961 clippings from Fayetteville and Lillington newspapers regarding the Harnett County (Dunn) school integration case, and a press release from AAIA on the case, mentioning that three of the Indian children “sat in” for a week in demonstration.
    • Correspondence regarding AAIA’s appeals (or consideration of appealing) to the American Friends Service Committee, the NAACP, the ACLU, various foundations, and Paul Green for financial assistance with the Harnett County case.
    • Statement from Martha Maynard regarding her complaint against Harnett County Board of Education regarding the refusal of Harnett County to permit her three children to attend a white elementary school.  She had asked for her children to be transferred because the Indian elementary school was inferior.
    • Letter from Richard Schifter, AAIA attorney, to Laverne Madigan, AAIA Executive Director (23 June 1961) providing details of Schifter’s separate meetings with Helen Maynor and with Jack Locklear regarding their requests for assistance from AAIA.  Schifter tells Madigan about his attempt to find out why his mentions of Helen Maynor's father, Judge Lacy Maynor, to Jack Locklear and his group provoked a negative reaction.  Helen Maynor explained to Schifter that her father was a member of the Lumbee Brotherhood, while Jack Locklear and his friends (“the Locklear group”) had somewhat different aims for the tribe and were wanting to be called “Barbarous Indians.”
    • Several letters (1961) regarding major difficulties getting the Harnett County case onto the court calendar.
    • A letter and statement of fees from Tally, Tally, and Taylor (attorneys) to Richard Schifter, AAIA attorney (17 December 1960) regarding the firm’s defense of James Chance and Eugene Chance.  The two Indian men were charged with trespassing when they tried to get their children admitted to Dunn high School.
    • A clipping from the New York Post (3 October 1960) in which Eleanor Roosevelt mentions the James and Eugene Chance school segregation case in her column, “Justice and Prestige.”  The folder also contains copies the earlier letters from the Chances’ daughters to Mrs. Roosevelt thanking her for mention of their situation in her column.
    • Several detailed background memoranda (1960) from American Friends Service Committee regarding the Harnett County school situations.
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