Knute W. Bergen Papers, 1962-1964

Overview of the Collection

Bergen, Knute W., 1895-1968
Knute W. Bergen Papers
1962-1964 (inclusive)
0.2 linear feet
Collection Number
Mss 376 (collection)
Knute Bergen was the Montana Coordinator for the Department of Indian Affairs. This collection consists of items relating to Native Americans in Montana and Idaho, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the National Congress of American Indians.
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.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Knute W. Bergen was born in Sacred Heart, Minnesota, in 1895. Bergen lived in Minnesota as a child, but moved away when he attended college at Lutheran in Decorah, Iowa. After finishing his degree, Bergen moved back home to complete a Master's degree at the University of Minnesota. In 1920 Bergen married Ruth Nelson of South Dakota. The couple soon moved to Montana, where Bergen worked in the field of education. He served as Superintendent of Schools in Cascade for 10 years, then in Browning for another 15. The K.W. Bergen Elementary School in Browning is named in his honor.

Bergen came to Helena in 1949 to work for the State Department of Public Instruction under Mary Condon as head of Indian education. He is credited for the improved organization of the school bus transportation system in Montana. Governor John Bonner appointed him as Montana Coordinator of the Department of Indian Affairs. Bergen lived in Helena and worked for the Bureau for the rest of his life. Much of Bergen's focus was on education, and his legacy continues today in the form of a scholarship for Native Americans at the University of Montana. Former governor Tim Babcock once said, "He was perhaps the best informed man on Indian affairs in the state of Montana." Bergen died in 1968 at the age of 73.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection consists of items relating to Native Americans and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, and tribal documents with special emphasis on the proposed Knowles Dam project, the Flathead Reservation, and the food shortages of the early 1960s on the Blackfoot Reservation. Also included is an entire folder devoted to the issues surrounding the National Congress of American Indians.

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

[Name of document or photograph number], Knute W. Bergen Papers, Archives and Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, The University of Montana--Missoula.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


The collection is divided into two series:

Series I: Bureau of Indian Affairs, 3 folders, 1962-1964

Series II: National Congress of American Indians, 1 folder, 1963-1964

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. K.W. Bergen, 1975.

Processing Note

The actions of the original processors are not known. The original order of the collection has been retained. The collection was reprocessed in 2001.

Related Materials

The Montana Historical Society holds additional Bergen materials in the records of the Montana. Department of Public Instruction, Division of Indian Education.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series I:  Bureau of Indian Affairs , 1962-1964 Return to Top

3 folders

This series contains several items from the office of the Montana Coordinator for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Newspaper clippings, correspondence, and some miscellaneous items make up the three folders. Topics include the Knowles Dam, politics, and natural resource development on tribal lands. This series is arranged chronologically.

Container(s) Description Dates
Newspaper clippings

Series II:  National Congress of American Indians , 1963-1964Return to Top

1 folder

This series relates to Native American policy development through the National Council of American Indians. It contains correspondence, tribal resolutions, and some court documents. The NCAI was created in 1944 as a national forum for consensus-based policy development. Much of this series is related to issues that tribes in the Pacific Northwest have with the Congress, including the Flathead and the Coeur d'Alene Nations. This series is arranged chronologically.

Container(s) Description Dates
Correspondence and tribal documents

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Indian reservations--Montana
  • Indians of North America--Government policy--Montana
  • Indians of North America--Pacific, Northwest

Corporate Names

  • National Congress of American Indians.
  • United States. Bureau of Indian Affairs

Geographical Names

  • Blackfeet Indian Reservation (Mont.)--Social conditions
  • Flathead Indian Reservation (Mont.)
  • Knowles Dam (Mont.)
  • Montana--Politcs and government--20th century