Featured Story: Late In Coming

For some groups, like Native Americans, inherent rights were not recognized until the 20th century. With the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act, Native Americans became citizens of the United States.

Comanche Quanah Parker, founder of the Native American Church, 1880s
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Photograph, Comanche Quanah Parker, founder of the Native American Church, 1880s

Courtesy of Denver Public Library

Founded in the 1890s by Quanah Parker, the Native American Church Movement was adopted by a number of tribes. The movement and its practices, including the use of peyote, were considered protected by freedom of religion and officially acknowledged by Native American Religious Freedom Acts of 1994 and 1996.

Letter from Indian Affairs Commissioner Charles Burke, April 7, 1926
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Letter from Indian Affairs Commissioner Charles Burke, April 7, 1926

National Archives-Denver, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (National Archives Identifier 2641498)

Mission Indian Federation Constitution, ca 1922
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Mission Indian Federation Constitution, ca 1922

San Diego A-2-M Exhibits 73 - 116, Equity Case Files National Archives, Records of District Courts of the United States, Record Group 21 (National Archives Identifier 2641499)

In 1919, California Indians from over 30 different reservations formed the Mission Indian Federation, “to protect them against unjust laws- rules- and regulations.” Using the slogan, “Human Rights and Home Rule,” the Federation influenced the debate about Indian Rights in the United States, becoming experts at using the press to expose the plight of the California Indian.

Letter from Adam Castillo to All Captains, October 30, 1922
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Letter from Adam Castillo to All Captains, October 30, 1925

San Diego A-2-M Exhibits 46 - 72, Equity Case Files National Archives, Records of District Courts of the United States, Record Group 21 (National Archives Identifier 2641501)

Mission Indian Federation President Adam Castillo advocated for self-rule on reservations, including an Indian police force.

Telegram from Commissioner Charles J. Rhodes to Mary McGair, February 1, 1932
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Telegram from Commissioner Charles J. Rhodes to Mary McGair, February 1, 1932

091 Organizations Interested In Indians: Mission Indian Federation, Riverside, California 2/2, Central Classified Files National Archives, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75 (National Archives Identifier 2641500)

Over the years, the Bureau of Indian Affairs met with Mission Indian Federation leaders to hear their petitions and negotiate resolutions.

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