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Austin A. Sam Autobiography and Houck Chapter History,

Identifier: MSS-656-BC

Scope and Content

The collection contains edited manuscripts of Austin Sam's autobiography. The autobiography describes both the traditional Navajo elements of Sam's experiences, such as growing up in a one room hogan, learning to herd sheep, hunt, etc., as well as attending the Chilocco Indian School in Oklahoma, a career in the U. S. Army, residence in southern California, and assorted travels, family issues, expectations, and disappointments. The manuscript provides a firsthand view of Navajo culture, traditions, and history, while also documenting the acculturation and assimilation of an individual Navajo into Anglo society, and the associated trials and tribulations. The collection also includes a history and profile of the Houck Chapter of the Navajo Reservation, and a register of burials at the Houck cemetery.

The collection also contains yearbooks, autograph books and ephemera from Sam's years as a student at the B.I.A boarding school at Chilocco, Oklahoma. Included also is an extensive collection of Sam's diaries with daily entries of his life at home in Arizona, military service in Korea, student life at UNM and back on the reservation.

In May 2002, Sam's Passport to Indian Country and a chapter pertaining to Navajo Country from the German publication, Vom Radausflug Zur Weltreise, was added to the collection.

In January 2012, Autobiographical material and report on Pine Springs Rd., were added to the collection.

In Oct. 2014, Autobiographical material, yearbooks and diaries were added to the collection.


  • 1952-2010
  • Majority of material found in 1983-1992


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

Austin Sam was born in 1941 and raised on the Navajo reservation in Burntwater, Arizona, which is approximately 8 miles northwest of Houck, Arizona and 35 miles west of Gallup, NM.. His father worked for the Santa Fe Railroad; his mother and grandmother were weavers. Sam went the BIA boarding school at Chilloco, Oklahoma in 1955 and graduated in 1964. After graduation he attended Oklahoma State Tech. and in 1966 he was drafted into the Army doing a term at Korea. After receiving an honorable discharge, Sam returned to the southwest and attended the University of New Mexico where he completed a Bachelor's degree. Austin Sam has been involved with many social issues in his reservation community including work on road improvements and assistance for children of military veterans.


3 boxes (3.0 cu. ft.)


The collection contains a typescript photocopy of "Sam's Story: The Autobiography of Austin A. Sam" which details the life of a Navajo Indian living in a "white environment." The collection also contains descriptive materials about the Houck Chapter of the Navajo reservation and material related to Sam's schooling and military service.


6 series:

Autobigraphical Materials

BIA School - Chilocco, Oklahoma

Military Life

Memoirs & Diaries

Houck Chapter

Additional material

Related Material

American Indian Oral History Collection Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico
Finding Aid of the Austin A. Sam Autobiography and Houck Chapter History, 1952-2010
Processed by B. Silbergleit, Samuel Sisneros
©2001; ©2002; ©2012; ©2014
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 656 BC::Austin A. Sam Autobiography and Houck Chapter History)//EN" "nmu1mss656bc.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).

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