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Eda Gordon papers

Identifier: MSS-764-BC

Scope and Content

This collection contains news clippings, newsletters, articles, correspondence, reports, and research materials relating to Native American support groups and issues concerning natural resources, energy development and exploitation, the Navajo-Hopi land dispute, and issues of native rights and sovereignty. The bulk of the material in this collection focuses on 1974-1983. The collection contains documents from the Committee on Native American Struggles (CONAS), Native American Solidarity Committee (NASC), Big Mountain Support Committee, Southwest Research and Information Center, National Indian Youth Council, Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute Commission, Native American Environmental Council, and Citizens against Radioactive Dumping.

The collection is divided into 3 overlapping series: Natural Resources/Energy; Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute; and Rights/Sovereignty. The Natural Resources/Energy series contains materials on coal and uranium mining, nuclear power, WIPP, and general materials on energy and mineral exploitation/development on native lands. Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute materials include documents, statements, correspondence, press materials, news clippings, papers, reports, etc. documenting details, problems, and legal ramifications of the relocation plan. The Rights/Sovereignty series consists of press releases, news clippings, and articles providing insight into topics such as fishing rights, Indian jurisdiction, and the Fourth Russell Tribunal on the Rights of the Indians of the Americas.


  • 1974-2002
  • Majority of material found within 1974-1983


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

As a member of the National Lawyers Guild, the legal arm of progressive movements since 1937, Eda Gordon joined the volunteer Wounded Knee Legal Defense/Offense Committee in 1973. WKLD/OC was formed to represent those charged in connection with the 1973 takeover of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, a last-resort effort of traditional Lakota people and their American Indian Movement supporters to call attention to the corrupt, repressive government of Tribal Chairman Dick Wilson. Gordon served first as the committee's press liaison and later as a legal investigator of the Wounded Knee cases.

When the trials ended, 98 percent in victories for the Wounded Knee warriors, it was Gordon’s intention to remain on the reservation working with traditional leaders to restore traditional values to the governance of the tribe. However, in 1975, after being ambushed and assaulted by Chairman Wilson’s goon squad, Gordon made the decision to carry on her work in support of traditional Native American peoples away from the violence, in Washington, D.C. She has returned to the reservation a number of times since - the first time just a few weeks after leaving, to participate in the defense investigation of the firefight at Oglala, that resulted in the death of Indian activist Joe Stuntz Killsright, from Albuquerque, and two FBI agents, and in later years, while working on energy and health issues in conjunction with the Black Hills Alliance and Women of All Red Nations (WARN).

Out of the legal battles of the WKLD/OC grew an extensive nationwide network of lawyers, legal workers and supporters, committed to keeping the issues of exploitation and oppression in Indian country in the public eye and challenged in the courts. Gordon was integrally involved in the Committee on Native American Struggles (CONAS) of the National Lawyers Guild; the Native American Solidarity Committee (NASC), and the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (LPDC), among others. With WKLD/OC attorney Roger Finzel, she was successful in lobbying for the first meeting in modern times between Lakota traditional chiefs and the President of the United States, then Gerald Ford. She was also part of a team that prepared the first report to the Working Group on Indigenous Peoples of the United Nations, that addressed a range of problems - from the wrongful conviction of Leonard Peltier to the dislocation of peoples in the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute.

It was around the time of the gas crisis of the 70s that Indian lands were designated as a "national sacrifice area" to meet increasing corporate demands for energy resources. Indian activists were aligning with environmentalists, the anti-nuclear movement and ranchers to protect the West. To highlight the issue of corporate rape of indigenous lands and violation of sovereign rights, Gordon, with members of the NASC, participated in a research project comparing the exploitation of resources in Namibia and Native America by American Metal Climax (AMAX) Corporation, and wrote articles exposing the growing attack on Native hunting, fishing and land rights by non-Native vigilante organizations.

Moving to New Mexico in 1977 was the catalyst for Gordon to make the connection between Indian sovereignty and the struggles against exploitation of Indian lands and resources. In Albuquerque, she worked as a researcher for Southwest Research and Information Center, a multicultural organization formed in 1971 to provide public education and technical assistance on the effects of energy development and resource exploitation to impacted communities of New Mexico, the Southwest, nationally and internationally. She joined the Mount Taylor Alliance to protest the devastation of uranium mining in the Grants Mineral Belt and on the Navajo Nation, and the Big Mountain Support Group, challenging relocation of traditional Navajos from their potentially energy-rich ancestral lands in the Navajo-Hopi Joint Use Area. During this time, she served as the National Chairperson of the Committee on Native American Struggles, and through the state chapter of the Lawyers Guild, set up a summer program for law students on the impacts of energy development. She also organized an "Energy Delegation" of Guild lawyers to tour the exploited lands of New Mexico and Arizona, and helped investigate and write a comprehensive report exposing the ravages of energy exploitation on native lands in the southwest.

In 1981, Gordon moved to Santa Fe, where she worked as a law clerk for the Energy Unit of the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office and later for a private attorney representing utility ratepayers before the Public Regulatory Commission. Pro bono, she assisted in the successful legal battles to stop geothermal development and the Ojo transmission line in the Jemez Mountains, opposed bitterly by the Pueblo peoples of New Mexico for their potential destruction of sacred sites and disruption of fragile weather patterns.

Gordon has been an ardent opponent of the nuclear age. She became part of a movement that saw the end to 76 uranium mines in a matter of years in New Mexico alone, and the scrapping of plans for dozens of nuclear power plants around the country. She participated in a 17-mile march of the Black Hills Alliance in South Dakota, opposing uranium mining, which was recorded in the film "No Nukes." She joined the first demonstrations in 1979 in Loving, NM against the building of the Waste Isolation Pilot Project and was on the transportation route to protest the first Tru-Pac shipment through Santa Fe ten years later. In 1999, she served as the local coordinator of the Nuclear Free Future Award (NFFA) ceremony held at Fuller Lodge in Los Alamos, the former residence of the Manhattan Project scientists who developed the atomic bomb, and is on the planning committee for the 2006 NFFA, to be held on the Navajo Nation in recognition of the Tribe’s stance against further uranium mining on tribal territory. The Nuclear Free Future Awards, an outgrowth of the World Uranium Hearing, held in Salzburg, Austria in 1992, were founded in 1995 with the goal of educating the public and strengthening the worldwide network of anti-nuclear organizers and peace activists trying to rid the planet of the nuclear menace. Awards in the categories of RESISTANCE, EDUCATION, SOLUTIONS, and LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT have also been presented in ceremonies in Australia, Germany, Ireland, Russia, India and Norway.

Gordon is currently a private investigator and trial consultant working out of Santa Fe.

*Note: Biographical information provided by Eda Gordon.


1 box (1 cu. ft.), plus 1 oversize folder


This collection contains materials generated from Eda Gordon's work on behalf of Native American peoples on issues relating to energy development and exploitation on native lands, the Navajo-Hopi land dispute, and tribal sovereignty.


3 series: Natural Resources/Energy, Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute, Rights/Sovereignty

Related Archival Material

Roger A. Finzel American Indian Movement Papers Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping Records Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico National Indian Youth Council Records Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Tonantzin Land Institute Records Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico David M. Brugge Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico John Redhouse Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico

Separated Material

Draft San Juan Basin Cumulative Overview is catalogued in LIBROS.


Finding Aid of the Eda Gordon papers, 1974-2002
For Approval
Processed by N. Sedore
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • 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