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National Council of American Indians
214 Federal Office Building
Minneapolis 1, Minnesota
October 16, 1944

Tribal Councils and Indian Leaders:

You have already heard, no doubt, of the plans to form a national organization of Indians which have been going forward for more than a year.  You know that a tentative organization under a provisional constitution and by-laws was set up in Chicago in May 1944, where the name National Council of American Indians was adopted.

I can now inform you that the First National Convention of this organization is to be held at Denver, Colorado, on November 15, 16, 17, 1944.  At this convention a report will be submitted on all that has been done, as well as plans for the future for consideration.  The preliminary constitution above mentioned, even the name of the organization, will also be put before the delegates for their consideration.

This convention now is being called for a special reason.  As we all realize, Indians who have been away to war will be returning soon and many of them are going to have questions and perhaps many will be dissatisfied with the way things were before they went into the armed services.  They are going to want more to say about management of their local affairs.  They will come back with valuable experiences gained in war and feel that their opinions and ideas should be respected and taken into account.  The Indians in some states, not all states perhaps, will insist that the state give them the right to vote.  Others will insist that their people are entitled to Social Security Benefits.  I have no idea how your tribe feels about these matters, but many of your boys coming back from the war will have strong feelings about these and other problems.  Some of us would like to see an active Indian organization in operation when the boys come home, so that we will be in a position to help them present their views to the Indian Service, to State Governments, or to Congress.  For this reason we need to hurry with our organization plans.

There are other good reasons why an Indian organization is needed, in addition to the reason above stated.  Many tribes have claims against the Government, either because of land which was taken from them without their consent, or because some provision in a treaty or agreement has not been lived up to by the Government.  A strong national Indian organization in many cases will be in a better position to present matters of this kind than the Indian Service.  Also, the Indian people are always in danger of losing what they now have.  Cattle and sheep men from the outside are always looking at Indian lands and planning ways of getting those lands for their own use.  Even other Departments of the Government are not always favorably disposed toward Indian property.  Men in Congress often pass laws bringing pressure to bear against Indian interests.  This is not to say that all of these people are unfriendly to the Indian or that they deliberately set out to take away something which belongs to the Indian.  Actually, many of these unfriendly actions are the result of misinformation or misunderstanding.  People do not know or do not understand Indian rights to their property.  For example:  When men in Congress or state legislatures complain because Indians do
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