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Finding Aid to the Indian Board of Co-operation Collection MS.766
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  • Scope and Contents
  • Historical note
  • Preferred citation
  • Processing history
  • Use
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  • Title: Indian Board of Co-operation Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: MS.766
    Contributing Institution: Autry National Center, Braun Research Library
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 0.2 linear feet (6 folders)
    Date (inclusive): 1915-1925
    Abstract: This collection contains correspondence to and from Indian Board of Co-Operation Second Vice President George Wharton James, manuscripts by James, pamphlets produced by the Indian Board of Co-Operation, newspaper clippings, posters, and ephemera dated 1915-1925.
    creator: Indian Board of Co-operation (Calif.).
    creator: James, George Wharton, 1858-1923

    Scope and Contents

    This collection contains correspondence to and from Indian Board of Co-Operation Second Vice President George Wharton James, manuscripts by James, pamphlets produced by the Indian Board of Co-Operation, newspaper clippings, posters, and ephemera. Materials are dated 1915-1925. This collection also includes bills and acts submitted to the United States Congress between 1921 and 1923.

    Historical note

    The Indian Board of Cooperation. The board was founded in 1910 by a Methodist minister, Fredrick Collett. "The policy of the Board is to encourage the Indians to do for themselves everything that they can, and to assist them in the doing of these things that they can not do without help." The Board's objectives included organizing Indians, obtaining passage of a bill so Indians could present their claims to the United States Court of Claims, obtaining legal services, ensuring funds appropriated for Indians be used for the Indians' best interest, and promoting all movements intended to enhance the welfare of Indians. (California Indian Herald, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1923:11) In 1919, the board established auxiliaries which were small Indian organizations that acted on the local level and raised funds for the board through memberships and special events. The Indian Board of Cooperation assisted Indians on many issues over the next decades. By May 1924, the board boasted 88 auxiliaries, with a membership of 10,400. (California Indian Herald, 1924:2) While Indians could belong to the auxiliaries, the board was made up of Whites. Most of the funds the board used for operation were obtained from Indians who paid between four and six dollars each to be members. Thus, much of the cost of financing the early land claims case came from Indians themselves.
    California Indians obtained the opportunity to file in the United States Court of Claims when the Indian Board of Cooperation assisted in filing what came to be known as the "Test Case." "The suit is brought as a test case to establish the rights of all tribes and bands of California Indians whose lands were taken from them without fair compensation." (California Indian Herald, 1923:4) The case involved 1,008 square miles located in the Klamath National Forest, in Humboldt and Siskiyou counties. The case asked what legal rights the government had to the land. While the Indians never won back the land in question, the case did raise an important question: Did Indians have a right to redress for the lands lost? In 1927, the California Legislature enacted "An act to authorize the attorney general to bring suit against the United States in the court of claims in behalf of the Indians of the State of California in the event that the Congress of the United States authorizes the same." (Johnson, 1966:37).

    Preferred citation

    Indian Board of Co-operation Collection, 1915-1925, Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MS.766; [folder number] [folder title][date].

    Processing history

    Processed by Library staff before 1981. Finding aid completed by Holly Rose Larson, NHPRC Processing Archivist, 2012 December 5, made possible through grant funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commissions (NHPRC).


    Copyright has not been assigned to the Autry National Center. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Autry Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Autry National Center as the custodian of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.


    Collection is open for research. Appointments to view materials are required. To make an appointment please visit http://theautry.org/research/research-rules-and-application or contact library staff at rroom@theautry.org.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Collett, Frederick
    Work, Hubert, 1860-1942
    Government documents
    Indians of North America -- California
    Indians of North America -- Government relations
    Indians of North America -- Land tenure
    Indians of North America -- Legal status, laws, etc.
    Land tenure -- North America
    United States. Congress