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National Council of American Indians records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 1704

Scope and Contents

Contains correspondence, personal history, and business papers of both Zitkala-S̈a and her husband, Raymond Bonnin, with the bulk focusing on Gertrude's activities. Zitkala-S̈a was a central figure in early twentieth century Indian reform, and this collection reflects her intensive involvement. She was instrumental in legislation favorable to Indians and spent a great deal of her time among the Native Americans in an attempt to educate and organize them for greater strength through unity. Although the chronological range of the collection is wide, the majority of materials date from the period of the National Council of American Indians (of which Zitkala-S̈a was president and Raymond was secretary), which existed from 1926 until Zitkala-S̈a's death in 1938. Included in the collection are drafts of her speeches in defense of Native Americans. Many prominent political advocates for Native American rights, voices from individuals on the reservations, and civilians active in the relief efforts are featured in the material, making this collection a unique collaboration of many forces.


  • 1926-1938


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies of Carlos Montezuma letters (Box 2 Folder 2) are for research purposes only. No photocopying is permitted.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Correspondence, personal history, addresses, and business papers of the Bonnins and the National Council of American Indians must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Administrative History

The National Council of American Indians (est. 1926) was an advocacy organization for Native Americans. The group was established by Zitkala-S̈a, and was involved in investigations of tribal property rights.

Biographical History

Zitkala-S̈a (1876-1938) was a Sioux writer, teacher, and activist in Utah.


15 boxes (7.5 linear ft.)

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

Finding aid available in repository.

Other Finding Aids

Item-level inventory available online.

Custodial History

This collection was found among the Ernest L. Wilkinson legal papers, which have come to the BYU library in various installments since 1978. Following Gertrude and Raymond's deaths, their papers were transferred to the Wilkinson law firm, which had handled a large number of legal claims involving the Bonnins and then assisted with the probate of the Bonnin estate. These papers are what remains after a member of the Wilkinson staff destroyed many papers related to individual cases and personal correspondence with Indians throughout the country. These materials were transfered from Ernest L. Wilkinson's legal papers in the Lee Library.


Ethnic and minority history (20th century Western & Mormon Manuscripts collection development policy, 5.IV, 2007).

Register of National Council of American Indians records
Megan Furcini
2011 May 4
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States