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Assimilation--the absorption of Indians into the American mainstream--was the dominant theme of United States Indian policy from the late 1880s through the 1920s. It was a program that provoked widespread animosity as it eroded tribal culture, religion, history, and freedom.

Researchers in the areas of sociology, political science, international affairs, and Native American studies will use the primary sources in this collection for in-depth research and study of 20th-century Indian affairs. The correspondence, speeches, government documents, court records, and news clippings in this collection record John Collier's private thoughts and public impact during critical years in modern social and political history.

Collier's accomplishments in effecting major Indian rights reforms as executive secretary of the American Indian Defense Association and later as Commissioner of Indian Affairs during Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration marked a turning point in federal Indian policy. His Indian New Deal proposed tribal self-government, cultural preservation, and religious freedom for Native Americans.

He also founded the Institute of Ethnic Affairs, an action-oriented research agency that monitored the administration of American territories and dependencies such as Guam, Alaska, and Samoa.

Among topics for evaluation and interpretation through this historical collection are:


  • the founding of the American Indian Defense Association and its vital role as a key Indian legal aid service
  • Collier's lobbying and propaganda crusades to protect Indian cultural and religious ceremonies
  • tribal resistance--especially among the Navajo--to many of Collier's Indian reform measures
  • The Institute of Ethnic Affairs' role in monitoring the administration of American territories and its promotion of interracial harmony

The John Collier Papers represents a historical watershed in the history of Native Americans and will enrich any library whose scholars require access to research materials on this important aspect of American history.

The collection was filmed from the official Collier archives at Yale University--a renowned repository of materials for the study of American political, social, and economic history.

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