American Indian Defense Association

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AMERICAN INDIAN DEFENSE ASSOCIATION. In 1923, Richard E. Ely and other writers and social scientists interested in helping American Indians formed the American Indian Defense Association (AIDA). Ely named John Collier as executive secretary. The AIDA succeeded in defeating legislation harmful to Indians such as the Bursum Bill of 1922 and the Leavitt Bill of 1926, which would have taken land away from Pueblo Indians and curtailed American Indian civil and religious rights. Promoting American Indian cultural autonomy, it proposed a full reform agenda that included legislation on education, land rights, and arts and crafts. The Bureau of Indian Affairs did not, however, implement many of the proposed reforms until Collier's appointment as commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1933. Shortly thereafter, the AIDA merged with the Eastern Association on Indian Affairs to become the Association on American Indian Affairs headed by writer and anthropologist Oliver La Farge.


Collier, John. From Every Zenith: A Memoir and Some Essays on Life and Thought. Denver, Colo.: Sage Books, 1963.

Philip, Kenneth. "John Collier and the Crusade to Protect Indian Religious Freedom, 1920–1926." Journal of Ethnic Studies 1, no. 1 (1973): 22–38.


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American Indian Defense Association

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