Special Collections is home to hundreds of collections, including the congressional records of Morris “Mo” K. Udall (D) who represented Arizona as a US Representative from May 2, 1961 to May 4, 1991. In 1976 he even threw his hat into the ring to become the Democratic Nominee for President (but was later edged out by Jimmy Carter).
A helpful map to help locate St. John’s, Az.
As a graduate assistant working in the world of archives, I’m often asked if I ever spend a few minutes looking through collections “for fun” and the answer is of course! As a PhD candidate in the American Studies Department at the University of Arizona there are a lot of collections that catch my eye because of their relationship to Native American rights. The Papers of Morris K. Udall (MS 325) are a researcher’s dream.
“Mo” always advocated of Native American rights and was part of several groundbreaking legislative moves that reaffirmed sovereignty in Arizona, as well as throughout the United States. He was also visited many communities and took part in daily activities. Interested in agriculture, Udall even attended an FFA (Future Farmers of America) event to show his support (he also received a basket of home grown tomatoes).
Udall was an advocate for “Save the Children,” an international non-governmental organization that promotes children’s rights, provides relief and helps support children in developing countries. Due to the economic hardships on Arizona reservations, as well as many other reservations throughout the country, Native American youth were also included in programs that offered summer programs, literacy help, healthy food options, and child school preparedness courses.
In the early 1980s, Udall advocated for Tohono O’odham water rights, citing that the O’odham relied on access to water that had been diverted. He introduced H.R. 5118 to the 97th Congress, which later became known as the Southern Arizona Water Rights Settlement Act of 1982. The act “directs the Secretary of the Interior to deliver water supplies to the Papago Tribe of Arizona and its members in settlement of tribal and individual water rights claims in portions of the Papago reservations.” The bill re-enforced Tohono O’odham sovereignty and played a large part in later water rights cases across the country.
Udall (far left) with John Narcho, Chairman of the San Xavier District Council (far right). They are holding a copy of H.R. 5118. (MS 325 Box 738 Folder 11)
A firm believer in strengthening relationships with Native tribes, Mo also supported tribal gaming during a time when other members of Congress were suggesting gaming would lead to higher crime rates. Udall pointed to prior legislation and treaty rights to suggest that tribes, the Pueblo in particular, should be able to game within the State of Arizona (and in other states). He supported alliances and compacting measures between the State and Tribes, but “would allow nothing to diminish tribal sovereignty” when it came to gaming (Indian Gaming: Tribal Sovereignty and American Politics by W. Dale Mason, pg 57). He made an impact in legislation that would open up gaming more broadly to Arizona tribes and would be cited in other claims as a proponent of tribal sovereignty.
Representative Udall (center) with Jim Hena of the Tesuque Pueblo (right). Udall worked closely with Hena in New Mexico to further gaming rights and the affirmation of Pueblo sovereignty in New Mexico. (MS 325 Box 738 Folder 11).
You can look through multiple boxes of photos in the collection alongside correspondence, bills, and other documents — matching them up, you can see not only Udall’s bills, but the very people he was working to help.
Yet as a PhD candidate in the American Indian Studies Department at the University of Arizona, I’m also very aware of the fact that archival collections can often contain items that were not meant to be preserved or displayed openly. Specifically, many American Indian communities have faced challenges with museum archives that hold items that were taken without consent. Until 1990, it was next to impossible for American Indian groups to request the return of items that belonged to them–including human remains.
March 23, 1989 — Mo Udall brings H.R. 1646 to the House. The bill is “to provide for the protection of Indian graces and burial grounds” and sets the tone for repatriation. The bill points out that there is often confusion over who should “rightfully have control or ownership over skeletal remains” and other “grave goods” or “sacred ceremonial objects.” The bill suggests that it will become unlawful for anyone to “sell, use for profit, or transport” Native skeletal remains without consent of the tribe. Any grave goods or ceremonial objects found on public or tribal land revert to ownership of the tribe. Section 6 specifically lays out guidelines for the start of repatriation.
A link to the full bill can be found here:
July 10, 1990 — The bill undergoes several changes, making it twice as long! Yet the bill now protects more items and offers more insight into the repatriation process. The Act requires federal agencies and institutions that receive federal funding to return Native American “cultural items” to lineal descendants and culturally affiliated Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. Cultural items include human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony.
Above: The first page of the NAGPRA Bill introduced by Morris K. Udall. Below: Clerical information from the Office of the Clerk regarding the acceptance of NAGPRA into law. (MS 325 Box 235 Folder 15)
The Morris K. Udall collection contains a breadth of knowledge regarding Udall’s career. I suggest that if you’re interested in contemporary politics, you reflect on the foundation of those politics. Select a subject and then review the MS 325 finding aid — undoubtedly, Mo was likely involved in shaping today’s political agenda in every regard.