The American Indian Chicago Conference (originally called the American Indian Charter Convention) was organized by University of Chicago anthropologist Sol Tax. Tax's idea, announced at the 1960 National Congress of American Indians convention, was to bring representatives of American Indian groups together to prepare statements about the conditions and needs of their people. Tax took the role of coordinator to initiate developments, assure that all Indian groups were represented, serve as or find expert advisers, and publicize results to the public and to those who formulate Indian policy. The University of Chicago was the sponsor for the meeting. Nancy Oestreich Lurie, of the University of Michigan, served as assistant coordinator.
Tax, assisted by the National Congress of American Indians, formulated and circulated a proposed statement that served as a point from which discussions could take place. Tax also invited to Chicago a relatively small group of Indian leaders who then served as a steering committee. This preliminary meeting arranged several regional conferences where discussions could take place in preparation for a large meeting in Chicago in June 1961.
Representatives at the large conference presented a cross section of the American Indian community and included urban Indian, traditional Indians, modern Indians, and Indians from both recognized and nonrecognized tribes. Several hundred people attended the meeting and 439 of these registered. These registered attendees represented 79 tribes.
The outcome of the American Indian Chicago Conference was the Declaration of Indian Purpose, a lengthy document that dealt with problems and proposed approaches to solutions of the problems. In general, the declaration asked for a redirection of "the responsibility of the United States toward the Indian people in terms of a positive national obligation to modify or remove the conditions which produce the poverty and lack of social justice, as these prevail as the outstanding attributes of Indian life today." The declaration was presented to President John F. Kennedy by representatives of American Indian tribes in September 1962.
The records include a diary, announcements, minutes, correspondence, financial papers, registration materials, clippings, photographs, tape recordings, and printed and processed materials. Also included are a number of papers that were prepared for the use of members of the conference. Correspondents include Joan Ablon, Tom Bahti, Samuel Alfred Barrett, Ben Bearskin, Brewton Berry, Herbert Blatchford, Zara Ciscoe Brough, John J. Brown, John N. Burkhart, Herman E. Cameron, Wallace L. Chafe, Norman A. Chance, Henry P. Chandler, Thomas E. Connolly, Dibben J. Cook, James W. Couture, Cherokee Printing Project (with booklets in Cherokee), Dewey W. Dailey, B. W. Davis, Angie Debo, Ada Deer, Vine Deloria, Field Foundation, Ann Fischer,
Jack D. Forbes, Svend Fredericksen, Richard M. Gaffney, Harry T. Getty, Ray C. Goetting, Al Gandy, J. Nixon Hadley, Robert L. Hall, Odd Sigurd Halseth, Marie Inez Hilger, Preston Holder, Theodore Brinton Hetzel, Alvin M. Josephy, W. W. Keeler, Oliver La Farge, Howard L. Le Hurreau, Ed La Planat, Miguel Len-Portilla, Alexander Lesser, Jerrold E. Levy, Lightfoot Talking Eagle, Nancy Oestreich Lurie, Irene Mack, La Verne Madigan, Carling Malouf, Karl Menninger, Robert S. Merrill, Helen Parker Midgett, D'Arcy McNickle, Philleo Nash, Ralph Nader, National Congress of American Indians, Kirkland Ossinach, William L. Paul, Sr., Earl Boyd Pierce, Peter John Powell, Sister Providencia, F.C.S.P., Helen Petersen,
Phelps-Stokes Fund (Wilton Sterling Dillon), Carol K. Rachlin, John C. Rainer, Robert A. Roessel, Georgeann Robinson, Reynold J. Ruppe, Calvin W. McGhee, William Rickard, Robert W. Rietz, Schwartzhaupt Foundation, Mary Sellers, Omer C. Stewart, William Curtis Sturtevant, Walter Taylor, Frank Takes Gun, Pat Talachy, Robert K. Thomas, Frank Tom-pee-saw, United States Government (Congressmen, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, including Sam J. Ervin, Jr.), Murray Wax, Earl Welch, Rachel Whistler, Robert A. White, and Bob Yellowtail.
Among the records are materials that relate to the compilation by Tax, Bruce McLachlan, and Sam Stanley of the map "The North American Indian: The present Day Distribution of Indians in the United States." Included are population figures and narratives by Tax.
Manuscript 4806, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Suitland, Maryland