Skip to main content

Francis Cushman Wilson Papers on Pueblo Legal Issues

Identifier: MSS-304-BC

Scope and Content

Pamphlet prepared by the Indian Rights Association. (Box 1, Folder 7).

This collection focuses on Pueblo Indian legal issues that Francis Wilson was involved with as a private attorney, following his tenure as U.S. Attorney for the Pueblo Indians. Government publications on Pueblo Indian lands, prohibition, irrigation, and Indian schools form the bulk of this collection. Additionally, there is a transcript of the New Mexico Supreme Court Case,Pueblo of Taos v. A.R. Mabry, et al., settling discrepancies concerning the Antonio Martinez land grant. Other publications, pamphlets, flyers, and news clippings support these themes, as well as oil on the Navajo reservation, Indian welfare, reorganization of the United States Indian Service, and Dr. Edgar L. Hewett's position on the Pueblo Indians. There is a directory of Indian schools in New Mexico, containing data such as teachers names and number of students, as well as one piece of correspondence from Wilson to his wife, when Wilson went to Washington D.C. with a delegation of Pueblo Indians (1913).


  • 1913-1956


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biographical Information

Francis Cushman Wilson was born in Winchester, Massachusetts on June 8, 1876. He was educated in the public schools in Winchester, and then entered Harvard as a member of the class of 1898. His studies at Harvard were interrupted in the middle of his senior year, when he volunteered with the army at the beginning of the Spanish American War. After the war, Wilson worked in the securities business in New York and Boston, and in 1900, moved to Washington D.C. to work for the Department of the Interior. While in Washington, he began studying law at the Columbian Law School, graduating with his LL.B. in 1903.

In 1907, Wilson came to Santa Fe as part of a team of federal officials investigating fraudulent mining patents on federal lands. Following the investigation, Federal Judge John R. McFie appointed Wilson clerk of the Federal District Court of the First District of the Territory of New Mexico. During his clerkship, Wilson formed a partnership with Judge Richard Hanna in a private law practice. The partnership lasted until 1912, when Hanna was elected to the Supreme Court.

Wilson resigned his clerk position in 1909, to become U.S. attorney for the Pueblo Indians. During his tenure in this position, Wilson represented Indian interests in a variety of matters, including suits to quiet title to Pueblo lands, to eject squatters, and to safeguard Indian access to water. He also represented Pueblo interests regarding whether or not the Pueblo Indians were subject to state regulation and taxation.

Wilson resigned his position as Indian attorney in the fall of 1914, when he was nominated to Congress on the progressive ticket. Following his loss in this election, he returned to private practice, but remained involved with Indian issues. He was retained by several organizations to testify against and help defeat the Bursum Bill (also known as the Pueblo Lands Bill), and to draft a substitute bill.

Wilson's career included appointments to the Committee on Conservation and Administration of the Public Domain; River Commissioner of New Mexico (1927-1931); Secretary of the Colorado River Commission (1927-1932), member of the Rio Grande Compact Commission (1928-1932) and member of the National Chamber of Commerces Committee on Interstate Compacts (1936).

In 1938, oil was struck on some lands in Lea County where Wilson held oil leases. He quickly organized and became very involved with the Wilson Oil Company. Declining health forced him to retire from active legal practice in 1942. Francis Cushman Wilson died in Santa Fe on January 17, 1952.


1 box (.5 cu. ft.)

Related Material

Thomas B. Catron Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Sophie D. Aberle Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. United Pueblos Agency. Superintendents Records (microfilm). Pueblo Archives. Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Albuquerque, New Mexico.. Papers of the California League of American Indians Bancroft Library. University of California. Berkeley, CA.. Francis C. Wilson Papers New Mexico State Records Center and Archives. Santa Fe, New Mexico. Indian Affairs Collection Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico
Finding Aid of the Francis Cushman Wilson Papers on Pueblo Legal Issues, 1913-1956 (bulk 1917-1930)
Processed by B. Silbergleit
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 304 BC::Francis Cushman Wilson Papers on Pueblo Legal Issues)//EN" "nmu1mss 304 bc.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131