Trail of Broken Treaties Collection, 1972-1973

Overview of the Collection

Trail of Broken Treaties Collection
1972-1973 (inclusive)
1.5 linear feet
Collection Number
RG 054
This collection contains documentation of participation by University of Montana-Missoula students in the Trail of Broken Treaties caravan in 1972. The collection includes journals created by 16 of the students who participated in the caravan to Washington, D.C., as well as audio recordings, photographs, film footage from the event, clippings, and University of Montana administrative files.
University of Montana, Mansfield Library, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library
University of Montana
32 Campus Dr. #9936
Missoula, MT
Telephone: 4062432053
Fax: 4062434067
Access Restrictions

Researchers must use collection in accordance with the policies of Archives and Special Collections, the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, and The University of Montana-Missoula. Series I: Student Journals is restricted, please contact Archives and Special Collections for additional information.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

The Trail of Broken Treaties was an initiative to gain attention for issues facing native peoples in both the United States and Canada. The Trail of Broken Treaties Caravan began on the West Coast of the United States in October of 1972 and wound its way east, stopping at reservations and picking up additional participants as it worked its way toward Washington D.C. The caravan of protestors stopped in St. Paul, Minnesota where they held educational workshops and drafted a 20 point position paper that they intended to present to the current presidential candidates, Richard Nixon and George McGovern. The caravan participants began arriving in Washington D.C. in late October and early November of 1972 with a final count of about 1000 individuals representing numerous tribes from across the United States and Canada.

Caravan members found inadequate housing upon arrival in Washington D.C. and gathered at the offices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to discuss options with the commissioner, Louis Bruce. Communication broke down during the conversations and an altercation between protestors and building guards resulted in the takeover of the BIA building by Trail of Broken Treaties participants on November 2, 1972. The protestors held the building for nearly a week, eventually negotiating with the federal government for travel funds to return to their homes, protection from prosecution for the BIA takeover, and a promise by authorities to consider the points made in the position paper.

Seventeen University of Montana Native American students participated in the Trail of Broken Treaties caravan. Participation was considered an "omnibus" course in Indian Studies (now Native American Studies), similar to a field work course; if the students completed assignments, including keeping and submitting a journal, they would receive fifteen credits for the quarter. The students left Missoula, Montana on October 13, 1972 in three cars. They attended a week of workshops in Minnesota and arrived in Washington, D.C. on November 1st and left the city on November 9th.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection contains documents providing background about the Trail of Broken Treaties and the participation of University of Montana students in the caravan to Washington, D.C. Included are sixteen journals kept by students; documents maintained by Henrietta Whiteman, Director of Indian Studies (now Native American Studies) at the University of Montana; copies of clippings; 8mm film taken of the caravan and events; color slides from the trip; and audio recordings of speeches and press conferences on cassette tapes.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Researchers are responsible for using in accordance with 17 U.S.C. and any other applicable statutes. Copyright not transferred to the University of Montana.

Preferred Citation

Trail of Broken Treaties Collection, Archives and Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, The University of Montana-Missoula.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


The collection is divided into three series:

Series I: Student Journals, 0.5 linear feet, 1972

Series II: Administrative Files, 0.1 linear feet, 1972-1973

Series III: Audiovisual Materials, 0.9 linear feet, 1972

Acquisition Information

The collection was received by Archives and Special Collections from an unknown donor in April 1975.

Processing Note

The actions of the original processor are unknown. The manuscript portion of the collection was originally assigned the collection number UM 9, the moving image material was assigned the identifier UM Film Collection 4, and the audio recordings were given the oral history number OH 339. The manuscript materials were reassigned collection number RG 054 in the early 2000s; the film and audio portions were added to the manuscript collection in 2016 and all the materials were redescribed at that time. Student journals were fully restricted in 2016 to protect the privacy of students.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series I:  Student Journals, 1972-1973Return to Top

0.5 linear feet

This series contains journals created by University of Montana students participating in the Trail of Broken Treaties Caravan. Daily journal entries were one of the assignments to receive credit for their omnibus course in Indian Studies (now called Native American Studies). Materials are arranged alphabetically by author's last name.

This series is RESTRICTED, please contact Archives and Special Collections for additional information.

Container(s) Description Dates
Caye, Monica
Ground, Richard
Kipp, Woodrow
Lynde, Kim
Plumage, Charles (Jack)
Reed, Chris
Roberts, Ivan
Ross, Kathleen
Saddler, Joe
Smith, Leonard
Stiffarm, Wes
Swan, Ron
Tailfeathers, Robert
Wagner, Frank
White, Betty
Williams, Ronald

Series II:  Administrative Files, 1972-1973Return to Top

0.1 linear feet

This series contains materials collected by Dr. Henrietta Whiteman at the University of Montana. Materials include correspondence concerning the University of Montana omnibus course and student involvement in the Trail of Broken Treaties Caravan, as well as clippings of the events, and financial records from the students' trip.

Container(s) Description Dates
Financial Records
Office Files

Series III:  Audiovisual Materials, 1972Return to Top

0.9 linear feet

This series contains 142 35mm slides, one reel of 8mm film (with a VHS duplicate), and 11 audiocassettes (with duplicate use copies). The 8mm film was described in the original collection inventory as eight individual films, however, it appears these films were spliced together and placed on one reel. The slides depict the Trail of Broken Treaties caravan as it travelled across the United States as well as their occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs offices in Washington D.C., some slides are identified. The audiocassettes are recordings of press conferences and speeches given by leaders from the Native American groups as well as government officials, all cassettes include a master copy and a use copy.

Container(s) Description Dates
35mm slides
Minneapolis, Minnesota
October 29, 1972-October 31, 1972
South Dakota
October 30, 1972-November 1, 1972
Bellecourt and Russell Means, location unknown
November 1, 1972
Washington, D. C.
November 1, 1972-November 3, 1972
Occupation of BIA headquarters, Bellecourt, Mills, Adams and Means, Washington, D. C.
November 3, 1972-November 5, 1972
Occupation of BIA headquarters, Washington, D. C.
November 5, 1972-November 6, 1972
Occupation of BIA headquarters, Washington, D. C.
November 5, 1972-November 6, 1972
Pow Wow, location unknown
VHS duplicate of reels 1 through 9
Side 1: Singers, Rapid City, South Dakota. Side 2: Floyd Waterman, Pine Ridge, South Dakota.
October 4, 1972
Side 1: Minneapolis Public Schools, Administration Building, Speakers include Vernon Bellecourt, Dennis Banks, Russell Means, and Harry Adams. Side 2: Press Conference, St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota and Minnesota State Prison.
October 24, 1972-October 25, 1972
Side 1: Press Conference, St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota and Minnesota State Prison.
October 24, 1972
Side 1: Minnesota State Prison - Talk with American Indian inmates and singing. Side 2: Minnesota State Prison - American Indian inmates, Stillwater Prison.
October 25, 1972
Side 1: WDGY Newscast in St. Paul, Minnesota and Press Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Side Two: Assembly at Bureau of Indian Affairs Building in Washington D.C.
October 30, 1972-November 2, 1972
Side 1: Bureau of Indian Affairs Takeover, Washington D.C., Statements by Loesch, Roberson, Crow, and Caravan Members. Side 2: First meeting of caravan people and leaders with Harrison Loesch, Robert Robertson, John Crow, and Dan McDonald in the Bureau of Indian Affairs Building, Washington D.C.
November 2, 1972
Side 1: General Assembly, Statements by Commissioner Louis Bruce and caravan leaders. Side 2: Continued from Side 1.
November 3, 1972
Side 1: Meeting in Bureau of Indian Affairs Building, Washington D.C. - Report from Steering Committee. Side 2: United States Court of Appeals, Washington, D.C. - Concerning ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery.
November 4, 1972
Side 1: United States Court of Appeals - Part II, Washington D.C. Side 2: Press Conference Bureau of Indian Affairs, Washington D.C.
November 4, 1972-November 5, 1972
Side I: Indian Club reception for Henri and caravan students presentation.
November 1972
Side I: Bureau of Indian Affairs Caravan, Former Chair of Cheyenne and other unidentified speakers.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Civil rights demonstrations--United States
  • Indian activists--United States
  • Indians of North America--Civil rights
  • Indians of North America--Claims
  • Indians of North America--Government relations--1934-
  • Indians of North America--Legal status, laws, etc.
  • Indians of North America--Study and teaching (Higher)--Montana--Missoula.
  • Trail of Broken Treaties, 1972

Personal Names

  • Whiteman, Henrietta, 1934-

Corporate Names

  • American Indian Movement--History
  • University of Montana (Missoula, Mont. : 1965-1994)--Archives