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Coalition of Indian-Controlled School Boards Oral History Project Records

Identifier: SSC-MS-00696

Scope and Contents

The collection includes interviews with individuals who made "unrivaled contributions to Indian parental and community control of Indian education." There are audio recordings, abstracts and partial transcripts most interviews. A large percentage of the interviews are with women, many of whom were involved in the Indian rights movement, including Rebecca Adamson who was the first field coordinator for the coalition (note: Rebecca Adamson's papers are also housed in the Sophia Smith Collection). According to oral historian Jerry Reynolds, 46 of the 97 interviewees were women. "Women played a decisive role in the Coalition's accomplishments both as committed parents and political catalysts."

The collection also includes audio recordings of the conference: Struggle for Self-Determination in Education: Its On-going Value, at Wyoming Indian High School, 2006; plus related correspondence, memos, articles, published and unpublished manuscripts, books, legal documents, and government reports.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1967-2009


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

A few of the oral histories have restrictions on access to the full interview. Please see the notes attached to an individual interview for information about restrictions that apply to it.

Conditions Governing Web Access

The interviewer, Gerald Reynolds, has agreed that all interviews may be placed on the web.

Conditions Governing Access

The interviewer, Gerald Reynolds, has given permission for all interviews to be open for research use without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that he owns copyright, the donor has assigned the copyright in unpublished works to Smith College, with the exception materials created by Michael Gross and Bobbie Green Kilberg who have retained copyright to their works.

Copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by [donor/creator], researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

According to oral historian Jerry Reynolds, who conducted the 60 interviews that comprise the heart of this collection, "The Archival interviews and research on the Coalition of Indian Controlled School Boards fill a gaping empty page in the contemporary annals of Indian Country, and of America's social justice movement at large. The interviews contain a unique, otherwise unknowable history. From before its official incorporation in 1971 to its demise in 1981, the Coalition made unrivaled contributions to Indian parental and community control of Indian education. In 1974, in Education and the American Indian: The Road to Self-Determination Since 1928, scholar Margaret Connell Szasz wrote, 'In its first year, the coalition provided technical assistance in all aspects of education for Indian school boards, communities, and organizations, and served as a clearing house for information on legislation and other matters pertaining to Indian education. Less than two years after it was formed, CICSB was serving eighty-seven schools and organizations.' In the same year, Vine Deloria Jr. put the case for the Coalition in still stronger terms. Writing in 'The Indian Affair' that of the organizations forged to 'carry the fight to the Bureau' after the Bureau of Indian Affairs' decision to outflank self-determination on the battleground of educational programs and policies, Deloria states: 'The most important of these [organizations] is the Coalition of Indian Controlled School Boards ... now working with over a hundred local Indian school boards in trying to take over the education of reservation and urban Indian children. The Coalition is the most efficient and sophisticated organization that Indian country has ever seen and is far more capable than the Indian political groups ... in getting changes made.' Deloria went on to describe the Coalition's successful lawsuit against President Richard M. Nixon's administration for the release of impounded Indian education funds. 'The Coalition thus accomplished more for Indians in one lawsuit than the activists have by any of their celebrated events, for the monies went directly into Indian controlled school districts and allowed the reservation people to begin development of their educational institutions. The year after Szasz and Deloria wrote their contemporary testimonials, the Coalition was the principal reason the '638' law of 1975 is entitled 'The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.'"


1.083 linear feet (1 container)

97 oral histories (audio recordings and partial transcripts)


Oral history interviews with individuals who made "unrivaled contributions to Indian parental and community control of Indian education." The collection includes audio recordings, partial transcripts, related correspondence and published documents. A large percentage of the interviews are with women and many who were involved in the Indian rights movement, including Rebecca Adamson, the first field coordinator for the coalition.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

As a preservation measure, researchers must use digital copies of audiovisual materials in this collection. This collection also contains materials received from the donor in digital form that are not currently available online. Please consult with Special Collections staff to request access to this digital content.

Other Finding Aids

This finding aid currently includes only a partial contents listlisting of the contents interviews. Additional materials are described in unpublished lists that can be sent to you upon request by contacting

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collections was donated to the SSC by Gerald Reynolds in 2013.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection is comprised of the following accessions, some of which may not have accession records. Accession numbers: 12S-44. Accessions were received on the following dates: 2012-07-12.

Processing Information

Accessioned by Kathleen Banks Nutter, September 2012



Finding Aid for Coalition of Indian-Controlled School Boards Oral History Project oral histories
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:21-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2018-10-12: Links to online playlist removed
  • 2018-11-13: Box list, list of narrators, and digital objects added
  • 2020-05-20: Agents, access and use notes added to interviews

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063