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Association on American Indian Affairs Records

The Records of the Association on American Indian Affairs consist primarily of textual records, with modest but revealing bodies of photographic and audiovisual material. They represent the work of many hands, both paid and unpaid, and testify to the durability of the AAIA and the needs which called it into existence.

The activities documented in these Records are myriad and reflect a complex pattern of relationships, not only within the AAIA itself but with representatives of governments, tribes, and other organizations. While the different facets of the Association's work cannot be compartmentalized in any absolute sense, the series and subseries into which these Records have been divided highlight broad areas of interest and involvement, such as \Legislation\ or \Legal Cases;\ significant organizational and functional elements, such as \Administration\ or \Correspondence;\ and the individuality of officers, such as Oliver La Farge or Hildegarde Forbes, whose personal files relating to the AAIA have been subsumed into -- though not interfiled with -- the overall collection.

The single largest component of these Records and, arguably, the keystone, is \Tribal,\ a subseries which documents the Association's work on behalf of hundreds of Native American communities and its concern with local issues. In contrast, matters of national scope, including entities with a national constituency, are to be found in \General,\ a subseries second only to \Tribal\ in size. Researchers can therefore plumb both the microcosm and the macrocosm of Native American life, as well as charting the links between the two. The picture of the AAIA formed by the thousands of files which collectively constitute these Records, contains innumerable brush strokes. Some are disappointingly broad and some are numbingly detailed, but for the most part they are illuminating: an invaluable source of insight into the controverted but, as these Records attest, sometimes constructive relationship of Indians and non-Indians in the twentieth century.