Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Search Results

Collections Search Center
2 documents - page 1 of 1

National Congress of American Indians records

National Congress of American Indians  Search this
Arrow, Inc.  Search this
National Tribal Chairmen's Association  Search this
Native American Rights Fund  Search this
United Effort Trust  Search this
United States. American Indian Policy Review Commission  Search this
United States. Bureau of Indian Affairs  Search this
United States. Indian Claims Commission  Search this
Bronson, Ruth Muskrat  Search this
Curry, James E., 1907-1972  Search this
Deloria, Vine  Search this
Harjo, Suzan Shown  Search this
McNickle, D'Arcy, 1904-1977  Search this
Peterson, Helen L.  Search this
Snake, Reuben, 1937-1993  Search this
Tonasket, Mel  Search this
Trimble, Charles E.  Search this
251 Linear feet (597 archival boxes)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Administrative records
Financial records
bulk 1944-1989
The National Congress of American Indian (NCAI), founded in 1944, is the oldest nation-wide American Indian advocacy organization in the United States. The NCAI records document the organization's work, particularly that of its office in Washington, DC, and the wide variety of issues faced by American Indians in the twentieth century. The collection is located in the Cultural Resource Center of the National Museum of the American Indian.
Scope and Contents:
The records of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) reflect the operations of its Washington, DC, headquarters and, in particular, the activities and responsibilities of its executive director. The papers primarily cover the period 1943 to 1990, although some documents pre-dating NCAI are present. The bulk of the material relates to legislation, lobbying, and NCAI's interactions with various governmental bodies. A large segment also concerns the annual conventions and executive council and executive committee meetings. Finally, the records also document the operations of the NCAI, including personnel, financial, and fundraising material. Materials found throughout the collection include letters, memoranda, handwritten notes, speeches, press releases, newspaper clippings, publications, minutes of meetings, transcripts, reports, agenda, programs, financial records, legislative materials, photographs, and sound recordings.
The National Congress of American Indians records are arranged in 21 series:

Series 1 -- : NCAI Conventions and Mid-Year Conferences

Series 2 -- : Executive Council and Executive Committee Files

Subseries 2.1: Executive Council

Subseries 2.2: Executive Committee

Subseries 2.3: Executive Committee: Benefit Awards

Series 3 -- : Correspondence Files

Subseries 3.1: Name Files

Subseries 3.2: Chronological Files

Subseries 3.3: Miscellaneous Files

Series 4 -- : Tribal Files

Subseries 4.1: Individual Tribes, Bands and Reservations

Subseries 4.2: Intertribal Organizations

Subseries 4.3: Special Issues

Subseries 4.4: Miscellaneous Tribal Files

Series 5 -- : Records of Indian Interest Organizations

Subseries 5.1: Other Indian Organizations

Subseries 5.2: Non-Indian Support Groups

Subseries 5.3: General Indian Interest Groups

Series 6 -- : NCAI Committees and Special Issue Files

Subseries 6.1: Alaskan Natives

Subseries 6.2: Policy Conference

Subseries 6.3: Religious Freedom and Related Cultural Concerns

Subseries 6.4: Hunting and Fishing Rights

Subseries 6.5: Natural Resources and Indian Water Rights

Subseries 6.6: Nuclear Waste

Subseries 6.7: Solar Bank

Subseries 6.8: AIMS [American Indian Media Surveillance] Committee

Subseries 6.9: HCR 108 and Federal Termination Policies

Subseries 6.10: Emergency Conference of 1954

Subseries 6.11: Jurisdiction --NCAI Commission and Federal Legislation

Subseries 6.12: Law Enforcement

Subseries 6.13: Litigation Committee

Subseries 6.14: Annual Litigation Conference

Subseries 6.15: Trail of Broken Treaties Impact Survey Team

Subseries 6.16: Block Grants

Subseries 6.17: Health and Welfare

Subseries 6.18: Self-Determination and Education

Subseries 6.19: National Conference on Federal Recognition

Subseries 6.20: Economic and Reservation Development

Series -- 7: United Effort Trust (UET)

Subseries 7.1: NCAI and NTCA Joint Committee

Subseries 7.2: Issues

Subseries 7.3: Legislation

Subseries 7.4: News Releases

Subseries 7.5: Indian Organizations

Subseries 7.6: Inter-Tribal Organizations

Subseries 7.7: Non-Indian Organizations

Subseries 7.8: Tribes

Series 8 -- : Attorneys and Legal Interest Groups

Subseries 8.1: Attorneys

Subseries 8.2: Legal Interest Groups

Subseries 8.3: Legal Services

Series 9 -- : Federal Indian Policy and Legislation Files

Subseries 9.1: American Indian Policy Review Task Force

Series 10 -- : Bureau of Indian Affairs

Series 11 -- : State and Local Government Organizations

Series 12 -- : Census

Series 13 -- : General Alpha-Subject Files

Series 14 -- : Records of Charles E. "Chuck" Trimble

Series 15 -- : Records of Suzan S. Harjo

Subseries 15.1: Indian Claims: Eastern Land Claims

Subseries 15.2: Indian Claims: Statute of Limitations

Subseries 15.3: Conference on -- The Indian Reorganization Act - An Assessment and Prospectus Fifty Years Later

Subseries 15.4: Inter-American Indian Institute (IAII)

Subseries 15.5: Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA)

Subseries 15.6: Institute of the American West (IAW)

Subseries 15.7: Common Cause

Subseries 15.8: Office Files

Series 16 -- : Fund Raising

Subseries 16.1: Gifts, Bequests, and Contributions

Subseries 16.2: Foundations

Subseries 16.3: General --Arrow and NCAI Fund

Series 17 -- : Business and Financial Records Files

Subseries 17.1: Personnel

Series 18 -- : "Give-Away" Files

Series 19 -- : Publications

Subseries 19.1: -- News/Sentinels -- and -- Sentinel Bulletin

Subseries 19.2: Other Publications

Series 20 -- : Photographs

Series 21 -- : Audio and Film Recordings
Biographical / Historical:
The National Congress of America Indians, which describes itself as the oldest and largest American Indian and Alaskan Native organization in the United States, was founded on November 16, 1944, in Denver, CO. NCAI was intended to serve as a link between individual tribal councils and the United States government, by defining and helping to crystallize Indian thought on the administration of Indian affairs. The Congress also aimed to educate the general public about Indians, preserve Indian cultural values, protect treaty rights with the United States, and promote Indian welfare.

At the first convention, delegates representing fifty tribes ratified the constitution and by-laws, drafted resolutions determining the direction of NCAI policy, and elected the organizations' first officers, with Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Napoleon B. Johnson (Cherokee) as president. The officers, as well as eight elected council members, formed the Executive Council. The Council chose the Executive Director; Ruth Muskrat Bronson (Cherokee) was the organization's first director, from 1944-1948. "Persons of Indian blood" could join the organization either as individuals or as groups. In 1955, however, the constitution was revised to restrict group membership to recognized tribes, committees, or bands, and to make the Executive Council chosen by tribal representatives. These changes gave control of the organization to governing bodies of organized tribes, rather than individuals. A further amendment that year created a five-member Executive Committee, headed by the president, which had all the powers of the Executive Council between council meetings.

Conventions have been held annually in the fall since the formation of the NCAI in 1944. Since 1977, mid-year conferences have been held in May or June of each year, to allow more frequent and thorough discussion of issues. The resolutions passed at these conventions are the basis for all policy of the Executive Committee and Executive Director between meetings. The conventions are also used for informational sessions and meetings of standing and special committees of NCAI. One or two-day workshops may also be held on special topics or Congressional issues of particular concern.

NCAI created a tax-exempt arm in 1949 to accept charitable contributions and apply for grants, the NCAI Fund, which soon changed its name to ARROW, Inc. By 1957, however, ARROW had split off to become an independent organization, and NCAI started a new arm, again called the NCAI Fund. In the coming decades, the NCAI Fund would obtain grants from sources including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Veteran Affairs, Indian Health Service, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Ford Foundation, humanities councils and others, which they used for conferences, workshops, publications, and other projects.

In its early years, NCAI fought for the recognition of land claims of Alaska natives, the enfranchisement of Arizona and New Mexico Indians, the equitable settlement of tribal land claims, and the right of Indians to select their own attorneys. The NCAI lobbied vigorously for an Indian Claims Commission Bill, which became law in August 1946. NCAI's lobbying efforts on behalf of this act set the pattern for the organization's future role in legislative matters: keeping member tribes abreast of proposed legislation and ascertaining their views, and maintaining a presence in Congress through lobbying and testimony.

Beginning in 1954, the threat of termination pushed NCAI into a period of increased activity. Although some tribes were ready to terminate their relationship with the federal government, much of Indian Country felt threatened by the government's new stated policy. NCAI therefore organized an Emergency Conference of American Indians for February 1954 to protest this new termination policy. An agreement was forged at the conference between the NCAI and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to work together toward slowly liquidating the BIA. The termination period of the 1950s and 1960s, while challenging, saw NCAI increase in confidence and political acumen.

During the 1960s, a number of other activist Indian groups sprang up and began to dilute the singular influence which NCAI had commanded. Newer, more militant groups often considered themselves at odds with NCAI, which was increasingly perceived as conservative. As the number of Indian advocacy groups grew in the 1960s and 1970s, however, NCAI actively partnered with other organizations, particularly the National Tribal Chairmen's Association (NTCA) and Native American Rights Fund (NARF), on a variety of projects.

Charles E. "Chuck" Trimble (Oglala Dakota) served as Executive Director of NCAI in 1972 until 1977, when he resigned to lead the United Effort Trust, a project designed to fight white backlash to Indian rights. NCAI spent most of the next two years trying to find another permanent director. In 1979, Ronald P. Andrade (Luiseno-Diegueno) joined NCAI and unfortunately found a group that was demoralized and underfunded. He was able to return the organization to good health but left in 1982. Si Whitman (Nez Perce), his successor, remained at NCAI for less than a year.

Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne-Creek) became director of NCAI on May 1, 1984. Prior to taking this postions, she had served as Congressional Liaison for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior during the Carter administration and as legislative liaison for the Native American Rights Fund, as well as working for NCAI during the mid-1970s. Harjo was also an active and published poet, as well as a frequent speaker at events around the country. The National Congress of American Indians was particularly active on Capitol Hill while Harjo was director, advocating for government-to-government status, the Tribal Government Tax Status Act of 1983, repatriation legislation, and economic development programs, among other issues. Harjo was herself very involved in the establishment of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC.

The NCAI Fund was very successful in receiving grants during this period, although they were chronically short of operating funds. Some of their most active projects during this period were the Indian and Native Veterans Outreach Program (INVOP), Inter-generational Health Promotion and Education Program (IHPEP), Environmental Handbook and related educational seminars, Solar Bank, nuclear waste disposal and transportation information sessions, and voter registration.

For years, NCAI's operating expenses had been funded by the Ford Foundation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). In 1985, the director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, opposing the use of Federal monies to support outside organizations, began to block the payment for services due to the NCAI. This created a financial crisis from which the NCAI did not recover during Harjo's tenure, and it became the major issue for which she was not rehired in October 1989.

Following the 1989 Annual Convention, Wayne Ducheneaux (Cheyenne River Sioux) became President of NCAI and A. Gay Kingman (Cheyenne River Sioux) was appointed Executive Director. Their first efforts were focused on recovering the financial well-being of the organization, which meant that less attention was devoted to issues in Congress. One of the successful projects NCAI pursued during the next two years was organization and presentation of the Indian pre-conference of the White House Conference on Library and Information Science, which was held in early 1991.

The National Congress of American Indians is still active today, continuing its work of lobbying, support for tribal governments, and advocacy for American Indian issues.
Related Materials:
Other collections at the NMAI Archives Center that include information on the National Congress of American Indians include:

Arrow, Inc., and the American Indian Tribal Court Judges records, 1949-1999 (NMAI.MS.013) James E. Curry papers, 1935-1955 (NMAI.MS.015) National Tribal Chairmen's Association records, 1971-1978 (NMAI.MS.014) Helen L. Peterson papers, 1944-1992 (NMAI.MS.016) Reuben Snake papers, 1971-1996 (NMAI.MS.012)
The National Congress of American Indians designated the National Anthropological Archives (NAA) as its official repository in 1976. This collection was received by NAA in four accessions between 1976 and 1991. It was transferred from NAA to the National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center in 2006.
Access to NMAI Archive Center collections is by appointment only, Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment (phone: 301-238-1400, email:
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish or broadbast materials from the collection must be requested from National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center. Please submit a written request to
Indians of North America -- Government relations -- 1934-  Search this
Indians of North America -- Politics and government  Search this
Indians of North America -- Social conditions -- 20th century  Search this
Indians of North America -- Legal status, laws, etc.  Search this
Indian termination policy  Search this
Alaska Natives -- Land tenure  Search this
Indians of North America -- Civil rights  Search this
Indians of North America -- Economic conditions -- 20th century  Search this
Radioactive wastes -- United States -- Management  Search this
Trail of Broken Treaties, 1972  Search this
Administrative records
Financial records
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Collection Title, Box and Folder Number; National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
National Congress of American Indians records
Archival Repository:
National Museum of the American Indian
Online Media:

Leuman Maurice Waugh collection

Waugh, Donald.  Search this
Waugh, Leuman Maurice, 1877-1972.  Search this
American Association of Dental Schools  Search this
American Board of Orthodontics  Search this
Columbia University  Search this
Nanuk Mi-kin-inni (Yacht)  Search this
New York Athletic Club  Search this
Northland (Coast Guard cutter: WPG-49)  Search this
United States. Public Health Service  Search this
2.1 Linear feet ((5 boxes; 1 map case drawer))
1,749 Photographic prints
1,035 Lantern slides
1579 Negatives (photographic)
80 Film reels (16mm)
Inuit  Search this
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographic prints
Lantern slides
Negatives (photographic)
Film reels
Dental records
Printed ephemera
Labrador (N.L.)
The Leuman Maurice Waugh collection contains papers, photographs, and film holdings that were created by Waugh during his dental research expeditions to indigenous communities in Newfoundland and Labrador in eastern Canada and in Arctic Alaska.
Scope and Contents:
The Leuman Maurice Waugh collection contains materials created and compiled by Dr. Leuman Waugh during his research expeditions to Arctic Alaska and the Newfoundland and Labrador regions of Eastern, Canada circa 1909-1963. During these trips, Waugh studied the dental health of Indigenous communities in the region and treated patients.

The collection contains materials that were created and collected by Waugh during his research trips and include raw dental data and community census information; professional and personal correspondence; clippings, articles, and essays; reports and lectures; logistics and trip planning documents; postcards; journals; and sketches and drawings, among other materials.

The collection also contains over 4,000 photographs and 80 16mm film reels that were shot by Waugh during his research trips and document his work with Indigenous communities in Alaska and eastern Canada.
Arrangement note:
Waugh's original order was disturbed over the years after his death and during transfer from the Waugh family to the Rankin Museum. NMAI archivists elected to arrange the collection chronologically.

The records are organized in the following series: I. Dental study data and logistics, II. Correspondence, III. Writings, IV. Realia and ephemera, V. Press clippings and public relations materials, VI. Maps and other oversized materials.Chronological arrangement.
Biographical/Historical note:
Born on March 6, 1877 in New Dundee, Ontario, Canada, Leuman Maurice Waugh, moved to Rochester, New York, with his family at the age of nine. He acquired his love for photography in Rochester, which always attributed as the "Kodak city." Following in his father's dentistry footsteps, Waugh attended the University of Buffalo, from which he received his D.D.S. in 1900. He took post-graduate studies in Histology, Bacteriology, and Pathology at Buffalo's School of Medicine, and within two years was appointed Professor of Histology and Embryology at his alma mater. In 1912, Waugh pioneered the design of a unit-type x-ray machine for use at the dental chair, which was later studied and adopted by large dental apparatus manufacturers. By the time he left Buffalo in 1914 to specialize in the infant field of orthodontics in New York City, he had served as Professor of Special Pathology and Officer of the Governing Faculty at the university.

In 1915, Waugh served on the Organization Committee of the Columbia Dental School and shortly thereafter became its Secretary of the Dental Faculty, and sequentially Secretary of the Administrative Board and Professor of Histology and Embryology. In 1921 he was appointed Professor and Director of the Orthodontic Division of the school, and later served as Associate Director, Acting Director and Associate Dean. Waugh's affiliation with Columbia lasted through 1945. He served as Director of the American Board of Orthodontics from 1949 to 1953, and was asked to serve as Secretary-Chairman of the Orthodontia section of the American Association of Dental Schools in 1930, and as President in 1935. Waugh married Helen "Esty" Marshall, and had a son, Donald (also a dentist), and a daughter, Dorothy.

An active member of the Explorer's Club and Commodore of the Yachting Department of the New York Athletic Club, Waugh volunteered to undertake Alaskan studies on caries research among the Inuit for the U.S. Public Health Service. In 1929, the Health Service appointed Waugh Dental Director (Reserve) at the rank of Colonel. Waugh was apparently inspired by a lecture he heard as a student in 1908 from Dr. Ales Hrdlicka, Smithsonian Curator of Physical Anthropology at the Institute of Dental Pedagogics, on the dental conditions of human populations. Waugh privately carried out a Labrador study between 1921 and d1927 over the course of five summers. Under the sometimes-partial aegis of the U.S. Public Heath Service, Waugh also studied twelve Alaskan Inuit communities between 1929 and 1938. He was the first dental officer in the U.S. Public Service ever assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter Northland's cruise area of the Bering Sea and Alaska Arctic regions. During his trips, Waugh compiled data on the teeth, mouth, and diet of indigenous communities. In addition, he took many photographs and films of both dental subjects and indigenous communities.

Waugh's son, Donald, accompanied him on his 1935 expedition up the Kuskokwim River (Alaska) in their custom designed and built 29 foot yacht Nanuk Mi-kin-inni (Polar Bear Cub). In 1936, Waugh was appointed to a position with the Alaska Health Service by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior via the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. This position allowed him to further his studies of tooth decay throughout Alaska and the Bering Sea region. Waugh's 1937 expedition included three dentists (one a biochemist), a physician and a nurse, and involved extensive air travel in small planes. A popular lecturer and prolific writer, Waugh continued to advocate for the health of the northern indigenous communities he visited long after his trips ended. He spent the remainder of his professional career at Columbia University, where he rose from Professor of Orthodontia (1923-19435) to (concurrently) Chief of Orthodontia and Director of the Department of Orthodontics. Waugh continued to be active in professional organizations well after his retirement, until a few years before his death at his home in Betterton, Maryland, on May 6, 1972.
Related Archival Materials note:
The National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution hold twenty Waugh photographs which located in the Division of Physical Anthropology Photograph Collection #NAA2223a. NAA also has Waugh material in the Henry Bascom Collins, Jr. Papers, #NAA3131. The Archives and Special Collections at the Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library, Columbia University holds the School of Dental and Oral Surgery Records, 1892, 1915-1976 as well as the School of Dental and Oral Surgery, Historical Collection, 1892-1989.
The National Museum of the American Indian purchased the Waugh collection in 2001 from the Rankin Museum of American and Natural History in Ellerbee, N.C.
Access restricted. Researchers should contact the NMAI Archivist for an appointment to access the collection.

Access restricted. Some dental records may be restricted from access, reproduction, or publication under personal health information privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. Researchers should contact the NMAI Archies Center 301-238-1400 or for an appointment to access the collection.
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish or broadbast materials from the collection must be requested from National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center. Please submit a written request to
Dentists  Search this
Dentists  Search this
Missions, Medical -- Kuskokwim River (Alaska)  Search this
Nutrition and dental health -- Alaska  Search this
Missions, Medical -- Labrador (N.L.)  Search this
Anthropology -- Alaska  Search this
Dentistry -- Alaska  Search this
Dentistry -- Labrador (N.L.)  Search this
Orthodontists  Search this
Inuit -- Names, Personal  Search this
Anthropology -- Labrador (N.L.)  Search this
Missions, Medical -- Alaska  Search this
Inuit -- Census -- Alaska  Search this
Teeth -- Radiography  Search this
Inuit -- Dental care -- Alaska  Search this
Nutrition and dental health -- Labrador (N.L.)  Search this
dental records
Printed ephemera
Leuman Maurice Waugh collection, 1909-1963. National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Leuman Maurice Waugh collection
Archival Repository:
National Museum of the American Indian
Online Media:

Modify Your Search


Narrow By
  • Images
  • Finding aids
  • National Museum of the American Indian