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Shirley Hill Witt Papers

Identifier: MSS-591-BC

Scope and Content

The contents of this collection reflect Dr. Witt's concerns for American Indian issues. Series I contains materials that Witt collected while working as a consultant to the Potawatomie, Ottawa, and Chipewa tribes for their cases before the Indian Claims Commission (ICC). The majority of the material in this series relates to docket numbers 18e (Ottawa and Chippewa of Michigan), 18g (Red Lake Band, Chippewa), 29 (Hannahville Potawatomi), 57 (Saginaw Chippewa), 58 (Ottawa and Chippewa of Michigan), 146 (Citizen Band, Potawatomie), and 217 (Citizen Band, Potawatomie). Most of the research in this series pertains to the 1819, 1826, and 1835 treaties between these tribes and the United States. This series begins with legal documents pertaining to the ICC, many pertaining to docket 29, and continues with plaintiffs'/claimants exhibits, followed by defendant's exhibits. Plaintiffs' exhibits are arranged by exhibit number, and pertain to docket numbers 18g and 57. Claimants' exhibits relate to dockets 18e, 58, and 146. Defendants' exhibits are from docket 217. They are arranged by the source of the documents, with Federal documents at the beginning, followed alphabetically by state. Materials not directly related to a particular state or repository will be found at the end of the series. Materials in this section are almost exclusively reproductions.

Series II, Subject Files, contains news clippings, articles, correspondence, reports, flyers, publications, brochures, etc. pertaining Witt's interest in Native American subjects, excluding the Indian Claims Commission. Such subjects include women, youth, health, economics, peyote, natural resources, fishing rights, and the Navajo-Hopi land dispute. Publications dealing specifically with subjects in this series will be found within the related folders.

Series III is comprised of scattered issues of Native American publications. This series contains a significant run of Indian Voices. Publications that are represented in UNM University Libraries collections have been transferred to the general collection.

Additionally, there is an oversized folder containing maps from ICC exhibits, flyers for events, and miscellaneous printed material.

An addition to the collection was processed in November 2005. This addition contains legal documents pertaining to the Indian Claims Commission as well as correspondence, newspaper clippings, and maps used as research material for Witt's article "Demography" published in the Handbook of North American Indians. Also contained in this addition is subject matter regarding issues such as civil rights, education, environment, and health, as well as calendars published by Akwesasne Notes. The series in this addition parallel the original collection and overlap in date and subject matter. Some additional materials have been integrated into the original accession. A note to that effect has been inserted in the contents list for the relevant folders.


  • 1610-1991


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

Shirley Hill Witt was born on April 17, 1934 in Whittier, California. She is a member of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation, Wolf Clan. She received her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Michigan in 1965 and 1966, respectively. She earned her Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology from the University of New Mexico, in 1969. She was one of the first Native American women in the United States to receive a Ph.D.

Witt was a founder and vice president of the National Indian Youth Council (1961-64); member of the Colorado Springs Human Relations Commission (1972-74); member of the steering committee of the National Women's Political Caucus (1972), and a member of the college committee of the Colorado Commission on the Status of Women (1973). She has held teaching positions at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (1970-72) and Colorado College, Colorado Springs (1972-74). She served as director of the Rocky Mountain Regional Office of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 1975 until she resigned this post in 1983 to accept appointment to the New Mexico state government as Cabinet Secretary for Natural Resources under Governor Toney Anaya. In 1985, she became a member of the American diplomatic corps, having been appointed a Foreign Service Officer in the U. S. Information Agency (U.S.I.A.). Since then, she has served in South America and in Africa as Cultural Affairs Officer, Binational Center Director and Deputy Director of the U.S.I.A. on those continents.

Dr. Witt has been named a fellow in the American Anthropological Association and is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, and the American Civil Liberties Union- Indian Rights Committee. Witt has published extensively on Native Americans and is also a poet and fiction writer.


7 boxes (5.16 cu. ft.) + 1 oversize folder

Related Material

Navajo Hopi Land Dispute Documents Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico Kay Cole Papers Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico Robert E. Robideau American Indian Movement Papers Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico Underground Newspaper Collection Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico Sophie D. Aberle Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Sacred Lands Collection Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico

Separated Material

Publications that have been transferred to the University of New Mexico. University Libraries collections

Akwesasne notes. Cornwall Island Reserve, Rooseveltown, NY: Jerry Gambill. (1970-1988 scattered).

American Indian law newsletter. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico School of Law. (1968-1971, scattered issues)

Amerindian. Chicago, IL: M. E. Gridley. (vol. 12, no. 5)

Arizona highways. Phoenix : Arizona Highway Dept. (May 1963, August 1967)

Dine Baa-hani. Crownpoint, NM (etc.): Dine Baa-hani, Inc. (11/04/71- v.3 no. 4)

Independent. Gallup, NM: Gallup Independent Co. (1/23/82- vol. 95 no.19)

Indian news. Santa Fe, NM: New Mexico Commission on Indian Affairs. (vol. 7, no. 3)

Indian truth. Philadelphia, PA : Indian Rights Association. (June 1964 v.41, no. 1 & 2)

Mother Jones. San Francisco, CA: Foundation for National Progress. (Jan. 1982- vol. VII, no. 1)

Navajo times. Window Rock, AZ: Navajo Tribe. (1978-1984 scattered issues)

NIHB health reporter / National Indian Health Board. [Denver, CO: National Indian Health Board] (1979-1982 scattered issues)

Smoke signals. Washington DC: Indian Arts and Crafts Board, U.S. Dept. of Interior. (1966, scattered issues)

Tribal peoples survival. Albuquerque, NM: American Indian Environmental Council, Inc. (1981-1982, scattered issues)

United States. Congress. Congressional record. Washington: U.S. G.P.O. (no. 155, no. 171)

United States Commission on Civil Rights. Delaware Advisory Committee. The working and living conditions of mushroom workers : a report prepared by the Delaware and Pennsylvania Advisory Committees to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Washington D.C.: Commission on Civil Rights, 1977

Warpath. San Francisco, CA: United Native Americans, Inc. (vol. 4, no. 7)

Wassaja. [San Francisco, CA: American Indian Historical Society]. (1982 scattered issues)

Processing Information

Addition processed in December 2005.
Finding Aid of the Shirley Hill Witt Papers, 1610-1991
Processed by B. Silbergleit
©2000, ©2005
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 591 BC::Shirley Hill Witt Papers)//EN" "nmu1mss591bc.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