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American Indian Studies Department Records

Identifier: MS-0558

Scope and Contents

The American Indian Studies Department Records documents the program under John Rouillard's leadership from 1971 until 1983 and the activities of the Native American Student Alliance during the same period. The collection contains official records including annual reports and meeting minutes, correspondence, program files and grant applications, teaching files, subject files, periodicals, photographs, and audio recordings. The records document the department's administrative and academic activities as well as topical issues concerning Native Americans more broadly, public policy, and Indian education. The records are organized in six series: Administrative Files, Native American Student Alliance, Program Files, Teaching Files, Subject Files, and Periodicals.

The Administrative Files series dates from 1972 to 1983 and consists of several groupings of records filed in roughly chronological order: annual reports, general and topical correspondence, course proposals, student advising materials, library materials research, meeting minutes, student enrollment rosters, and financial aid documents. The records in this series document the growth of American Indian Studies from a small program to an academic department within the College of Arts and Letters. The earliest correspondence details how the program was established with support from the William T. Grant Foundation. The department's role in providing student support services and undergraduate advising is documented in correspondence concerning the administration of the Pewan student resource center and reference files on the processes for obtaining financial aid in each state.

The Native American Student Alliance series dates from 1971 to 1983 and is filed in roughly chronological order. This small amount of materials includes the organization's constitution and bylaws, meeting minutes and agendas, correspondence, membership lists, and files for special events. The Native American Student Alliance was for a while called the North American Indian Student Alliance and is referred to as such in some of the documents.

The Program Files series dates from 1970 to 1982 and is filed chronologically. This series contains documents pertaining to projects not related, or indirectly related, to the department's undergraduate teaching activities and includes grant applications and supporting documentation for a variety of proposed projects involving developing instructional resources and course content, community partnerships, teacher training, faculty research, and special events. The series is divided into three subseries: General Programs, All-Yuman Applied Workshop in Language and Culture, and American Indian Cultural Days.

The General Programs subseries dates from 1970 to 1982 and consists of grant applications and supporting documentation for various projects related to curriculum development, instructional resources, and teacher training. Not all of the grant applications were funded and several projects were carried out with funding from different sources over multiple years. Hence, the series is filed chronologically, and files about the same program can be found scattered throughout the series. Major program activities documented in this series include the Native American Teaching Intern and Aide program, which trained students in primary education in collaboration with several Indian reservations. The teaching intern program was carried out under the auspices of two separate projects: the Indian Education Project at the Viejas, Rincon, and La Jolla reservations, and the Johnson O'Malley Project at the Campo reservation. Another early successful program is a collaboration with San Diego Museum of Man to share cultural heritage resources and create a multi-part television documentary for use in undergraduate instruction. Other files include documentation seeking funding for a student resource center and the creation of a program for individualized instruction in undergraduate writing.

The All-Yuman Applied Workshop in Language and Culture subseries dates from 1978 to 1982 and is filed chronologically. The All-Yuman conference brought together native Yuman-language speakers to receive training in language instruction and to develop instructional materials for use in their communities. From this conference emerged the American Indian Language Development Institute, which continued to hold workshops at several different universities and since 1990 has been permanently based at the University of Arizona. More files on the AILDI can be found in the Education subseries of the Subject Files.

The American Indian Cultural Days subseries dates from 1976 to 1980 and is filed chronologically. Held annually and spanning several days, the American Indian Cultural Days festival brought together Native Americans near and far and featured traditional arts, music and dance, and speakers and workshops. The bulk of the series dates from the 1978 Cultural Days events which featured a public forum on Indian Tribal Sovereignty and Treaty Rights, funded by a grant from the California Council for the Humanities in Public Policy. The forum panel was composed of tribal members from several visiting institutions and notably featured a debate between congressman Lloyd Meeds and writer and activist Vine Deloria, Jr. Records in this series include grant documents, correspondence, publicity materials, guest lists, and photographs. Recordings and transcripts of the 1978 public forum are included on cassette tape, CDR, and videocassette.

The Teaching Files series dates from 1971 to 1980 and is filed chronologically and alphabetically. This series documents American Indian Studies courses and teaching activities and the development of the curriculum and courses offered throughout the 1970s. (Course proposals are found in the Administrative Files series). Notably this series includes John Rouillard's earliest instructional materials for courses taught at San Diego City College. Records in this series include lesson plans, instructional materials, and student work. Also included are two language instruction manuals written by linguistics professor Suzette Elgin. Course files are filed chronologically followed by a group of records on individual students filed alphabetically.

The Subject Files series dates mostly from 1969 to 1980, filed chronologically. This series comprises files on a wide range of subjects related to Indian education, general culture and history, and political and legislative developments affecting Native Americans in the tumultuous years of the early 1970s and beyond. Materials include non-periodical publications, government documents, academic papers, ephemera, and correspondence, as well as a small amount of photographic material. The series is divided into eleven sub-series: American Indian Studies Programs, Art and Culture, Civil Rights and Sovereignty, Employment and Economics, Education, Hanta Yo Controversy, Health, History, Language, Literature, and Welfare.

The American Indian Studies Programs subseries dates from 1971 to 1981 and is filed chronologically. This series documents American Indian studies programs at other universities through course materials, advertising materials and publications. This series gives an idea of the field of Indian studies programs in the nation at the time, Indian studies curricula, and outreach efforts to Indian students.

The Art and Culture subseries dates from 1969-1981 and is filed chronologically. This series documents aspects of Native American crafts, dress and spirituality, and includes publications, ephemera, newspaper clippings and bibliographies and directories, as well as a teaching guide on Lakota values. This series has considerable subject overlap with the History, Language and Literature subseries.

The Civil Rights and Sovereignty sub-series dates from 1970 to 1983 and is filed chronologically. This series contains documents pertaining to the Indian civil rights movement in the 1970s with respect to sovereignty and land rights, treaties with the United States, rights of Native Americans under U.S. and tribal law, and the criminal justice system. Materials include publications from tribal groups, academic papers, government documents, and miscellaneous documents. This series has considerable subject overlap with several other Subject Files subseries, which concern other aspects of the Indian civil rights movement. The Employment and Economics sub-series dates from 1972 to 1979 and is filed chronologically. This series contains academic studies and government documents related to economic conditions and employments trends, especially in urban settings, and government policy regarding hiring Indians in government. It documents the effects of federal policy that encouraged Indians to move to cities for work opportunities. See also the Welfare subseries.

The Education sub-series dates from 1962 to 1983 and is filed chronologically. The largest subseries in the Subject Files, it documents the development of Native American education and education policy and education advocacy at the local, state and national level in the 1970s and early 1980s. Subjects include Native American pedagogy, national education programs, and education legislation. Documents in this series include government reports, meeting minutes, academic papers, handbooks, and miscellaneous documents. Of particular note are documents pertaining to legislation related to Native American education, including the Indian Education Act, the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, and the Johnson-O'Malley Act. Notable groups with which Rouillard and other faculty were involved that are documented in this series include the National Advisory Council on Indian Education, the National Indian Education Association, and the Indian Policy Review Commission. All the files in this series have been included because they at least partially concern education policy, though some may also contain non-educational related subject matter. Files related to language instruction can be found in the Language subseries.

The Hanta Yo Controversy sub-series dates from 1980. This series documents the controversy surrounding Ruth Beebe Hill's 1979 novel Hanto Yo and the ABC television adaptation the Mystic Warrior, which was met with strong objections from many Native Americans because of the novel's portrayal of the Lakota Sioux was offensive and historically inaccurate. This series documents Rouillard's involvement in the controversy through correspondence and copies of the television script sent to him by anthropologist JoAllyn Archambault.

The Health sub-series dates from 1970 to 1982 and is filed alphabetically. This series contains documents pertaining to mental health, counseling, alcoholism and drug abuse, and health services. Materials include government documents, academic papers, handbooks, and comics.

The History sub-series dates from 1969 to 1982 and is filed alphabetically. This series contains historical information of a general nature about specific tribes and contacts between whites and Native Americans. Documents include publications, pamphlets, academic studies, bibliographies, newspaper clippings and maps. This subseries has significant subject overlap with other subseries in the Subject Files.

The Language sub-series dates from 1963 to 1981 and is filed alphabetically. It contains information on various Native American languages and language instruction and includes dictionaries, workbooks, and academic papers on language instruction and linguistics.

The Literature sub-series dates from 1942 to 1977 and contains mostly examples of Native American poetry and literary studies. Notably this series contains John Rouillard's notes and poems submitted for consideration for a planned Native American poetry anthology that was never published.

The Welfare sub-series dates from 1971 to 1981 and is filed chronologically. This series contains government reports and academic papers related to state and federal programs of assistance for Native Americans. See also the Employment and Economics subseries.

The Periodicals series dates from 1956 to 1984 and is filed alphabetically by title. This series contains newsletters, bulletins and journals by tribes, government agencies, non-profits and educational institutions, as well as serially published government reports. Subjects in this series are wide-ranging and include education, public policy, employment, healthcare, and history.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1971 - 1983

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in some or all of these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creator(s) of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of archival collections is such that multiple creators are often applicable and copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. In any case, the user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, obtaining publication rights and copyright infringement. When requesting images from Special Collections & University Archives for publication, we require a signed agreement waiving San Diego State University of any liability in the event of a copyright violation.

Historical Note

The American Indian Studies department originated in 1971 when the university, responding to a request from the local Native American community, appointed John C. Rouillard (1928-1983) Native American coordinator in charge of improving enrollment among Native American students. Under Rouillard's direction the Native American Studies program established student services and advising, devloped a Native American studies curriculum, and sought grant opportunities that tied the university's educational mission to needs of students and local Native American communities. Also in 1971, students formed the Native American Student Alliance. The following year, the university began to offer courses in Native American Studies. At first the courses were taught in cooperation with existing departments and programs, including linguistics, history, sociology, anthropology, political science, art, and music. In 1976 the program was recognized as a department in the College of Arts and Letters and renamed American Indian Studies. The university approved the minor in American Indian studies in 1982 and the major degree in American Indian studies in 2008.

American Indian Studies carried out numerous grant-funded projects to promote the education and to raise awareness on campus of Native Americans peoples, culture and political and social issues. A major area of focus was on training educators. The Native American Teaching Intern and Aide Project trained students as child educators in collaboration with local Native American reservations. The All-Yuman Applied Workshop in Language and Culture was a multi-year project that trained native Yuman-language speakers to provide language instruction in their communities. The department also presented an annual festival, American Indian Cultural Days, held on campus over several days and featuring music, dance, poetry and lectures. The Cultural Days program for 1978 included the Indian Tribal Sovereignty and Treaty Rights Forum. In addition to their teaching mission, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, American Indian Studies faculty were influential in higher education and public policy through their work in professional organizations, pressure groups and government.


20.32 Linear Feet (46 Hollinger boxes and 1 page carton)

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

I. Administrative Files, 1972-1983

II. Native American Student Alliance Files, 1971-1983

III. Program Files, 1970-1982

1. General Programs, 1970-1982

2. All-Yuman Applied Workshop in Language and Culture, 1978-1982

3. American Indian Cultural Days, 1976-1980

IV. Teaching Files, 1971-1980

V. Subject Files, 1969-1980

1. American Indian Studies Programs, 1971-1981

2. Art and Culture, 1969-1981

3. Civil Rights and Sovereignty, 1970-1983

4. Employment and Economics, 1972-1979

5. Education, 1962-1983

6. Hanta Yo, 1980

7. Health, 1970-1982

8. History, 1969-1982

9. Language, 1963-1981

10. Literature, 1971-2006

11. Welfare, 1971-1981

VI. Periodicals, 1956-1984

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Records transferred from the American Indian Studies Department.

Related Materials

John C. Rouillard Papers

American Indian Studies Department Records
Adam Burkhart
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego CA 92182-8050 US