Association on American Indian Affairs

Association On American Indian Affairs

2005 Annual Report

San Francisco Peaks
Photo:  Christopher McLeod, Sacred Land Film Project

Table of Contents


Although much progress has been made in the Native American community over the past century, Native Americans still lag behind on a number of economic and health indicators. For example, the poverty rate on the largest 81 Indian reservations is 40.3% and the incidence of diabetes in Native American communities is more than twice that of the general public. The Association on American Indian Affairs (AAIA) works with these communities in efforts that will allow them to succeed in meeting the challenges of the 21st Century, while still recognizing and respecting their ties to their unique history and cultures.

AAIA is an 84 year old organization with a history of accomplishments. Our current mission statement reads as follows:

The mission of the AAIA is to promote the welfare of American Indians and Alaska Natives by supporting efforts to –

  • sustain and perpetuate their cultures and languages
  • protect their sovereignty, constitutional, legal and human rights, and natural resources; and
  • improve their health, education, and economic and community development.

AAIA’s largest source of support comes from our members and contributors. In addition to this support, AAIA has also been the recipient of legacies and grants from various foundations and Indian tribes. AAIA is governed by an all Indian Board of Directors who come from such diverse fields as law, education, health, and public service.

President’s Message

Alfred R. Ketzler, Sr., President (Athabascan)

I am pleased to present our 2005 Annual Report. As has been the case throughout our 84 year history, we continue to be in forefront of issues that are vitally important to Indian families, children and tribes.

In recent years, our program concentration has been in four main areas: youth/education, cultural preservation, health and tribal sovereignty. Our Board has identified these areas as critical to Indian people and communities where we can make a difference. As an organization of modest size, we carefully choose our projects. We focus upon programs where a small amount of targeted resources can make a huge difference. This has been true throughout our history. For example, we played an instrumental role in the enactment of such laws as the Indian Child Welfare Act, Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and Tribal Tax Status Act.

We continue our targeted activities today and have achieved substantial goals with limited resources. In 2005, we finally defeated efforts to overturn the landmark Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain Historic Preservation Plan, created a Dakotah language SCRABBLE game, and turned back efforts to eliminate certain Indian Child Welfare Act protections, among other things. And we continue to support Native American students pursuing higher education, summer camps for Indian youth, and educational gatherings for diabetics and their families.

Without the support of our members and contributors, we would not be able to pursue these ambitious and essential programs. On behalf of the Board and staff and the communities and people with whom we work, I thank you.

Alfred R. Ketzler, Sr., President

Youth, Education & Scholarships

Language Preservation

The Native Language Preservation Program operates out of the Field Office of the Association on American Indian Affairs located on the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation, home of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate (Sioux Tribe). During 2005, this program employed the director as well as elders and teachers from the local tribe.

The Dakotah language is one of the 135 Native American languages which is considered endangered. According to experts, unless the trend is reversed all of the Native American languages will disappear by 2050. Native languages often hold not only words and phrases, but much of the culture of a people.

The program has several projects, they are:

Dakotah Language Program – The program produces materials in the Dakotah language for use in preschools, daycares and schools and by families for language learning in the home.

During the year 2005, the Dakotah Language Program produced a number of publications in the Dakotah language. They are: a CD of everyday children’s songs, such as the Farmer in the Dell, sung by various members of the tribe, including some which were sung by children; a Common Phrase Book for Teachers, with an audio CD, which uses words and phrases related to Things in Schoolrooms, Words Related to Outdoors, Shapes and other sections or phrases that teachers might use on a daily basis; and a variety of children’s story books.

The program also created an animation of the children’s song “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in the Dakotah language which was nominated for “Best Animation” at the Native Voice Film Festival and commenced work on an animation of a weather cast in the Dakotah language.

In addition, AAIA, in conjunction with the Sisseton-Wahpeton College, created and released a rap CD in the Dakotah language entitled “Wicozani Mitawa” (My Life). The rap CD was a language awareness tool aimed at an age group which rarely comes into contact with their native language – teens.

AAIA also started a project of community language awareness by placing signage in the Dakotah language in the local community store and in offices of the tribal government.

Skatapi – Skatapi is the Dakotah word for “they play.” In 2005, AAIA created a Dakotah language SCRABBLE game, with permission from the Hasbro Corporation. This project included the creation of the game board and game pieces and the development by tribal elders of the Official 207 page Dakotah Scrabble Dictionary.

Other language activities – AAIA created the Family Dakotah Language Learning Center (FDLLC) which was funded in part by the Sisseton-Wahpeton College as a summer program. The FDLLC was a daily language program targeted towards young families. Students were encouraged to bring their children and both separate and joint language teaching took place with both the parents and the children.


Since 1922, the Association on American Indian Affairs has been dedicated to helping Native people and their communities in meeting the challenges they face. One of these challenges is that of paying for a higher education. AAIA assists college students in meeting this challenge through our eight scholarship programs. Funding of these scholarships depends on the generosity of our donors. Therefore, availability may change from year to year.

Allogan Slagle Memorial Scholarship
(for students from tribes that are NOT federally recognized)

The Association on American Indian Affairs offers Allogan Slagle Scholarships in the amount of $1,500 to American Indian and Native Alaskan students who are members of State Recognized Tribes seeking federal recognition. Three scholarships were awarded in 2005 for a total of $4,500.

Adolph Van Pelt Scholarship

The Association on American Indian Affairs offers Adolph Van Pelt Scholarships in amounts between $500-$800. (Freshman $500, Sophomores $600, Juniors $700, Seniors $800) Scholarships are renewable up to four years towards any single degree pending satisfactory progress. Fifteen scholarships were awarded in 2005 for a total of $10,000.

Displaced Homemaker Scholarship

The Association on American Indian Affairs offers Displaced Homemaker Scholarships in the amount of $1,500 each to those men and women who would not otherwise be able to complete their educational goals due to family responsibilities. Fourteen scholarships were awarded in 2005 for a total of $21,000.

Florence Young Memorial Fellowship

The Association on American Indian Affairs offers one Florence Young Memorial Fellowship in the amount of $5,000 to a student pursuing a Masters Degree in the Arts.

Emergency Aid Scholarships

The Association on American Indian Affairs offers Emergency Aid Scholarships in amounts ranging from $100-$400. Applicants must have a critical/sudden need, a need that was not expected or that would prevent the student from attending school. Twenty-four scholarships were awarded in 2005 for a total of $5,850.

Emilie Hesemeyer Memorial Scholarship

The Association on American Indian Affairs offers Emilie Hesemeyer scholarships in the amount of $1,500 with a preference given, but not limited to, students pursuing a Major in Education. This scholarship is renewable up to four years toward any single degree pending satisfactory progress. Twenty scholarships were awarded in 2005 for a total of $30,000.

Sequoyah Graduate Fellowship

The Association on American Indian Affairs offers Sequoyah Graduate Fellowships in the amount of $1,500. Ten scholarships were awarded in 2005 for a total of $15,000.

“My dream has always been to serve the Indian community by working in the Indian Health Service. It is my goal to help strive for the best quality care I can provide in our Indian hospitals. Your continued support means the world to me. I have had much difficulty finding scholarships due to my non-traditional student status. I have good grades and have served a tour of duty in the US Army. My Montgomery GI Bill has helped, but is about to run out. If it were not for AAIA, I would have a much greater struggle ahead.”

—Carolyn Fletcher, Senior, Kiowa Adolph Van Pelt Scholarship Recipient Texas Women’s University Psychology

Youth Summer Camps

AAIA is proud to have been able to provide funding to eight summer camp programs in 2005.

Native American Summer Leadership Program
Wilson, Michigan

This program which serviced 40 6th, 7th and 8th grade boys and girls from across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan sought to strengthen campers in physical, mental, emotional and spiritual areas. Instructors and elders were from the Diversity Student Program or Center for Native American Studies at Northern Michigan University and from the Hannahville Indian School.

Native American Environmental Awareness Summer Practicum
Evergreen, Colorado

This environmental youth practicum serviced high school students (10th-12th grade), who were interested in the preservation, protection and enhancement of natural resources. Traditional teachings were taught by elders, instructors and counselors, 35 students from 7 regions learned how to ensure, promote and protect the use of fish, wildlife & other environmental resources.

Menominee Summer Youth Camp
Keshena, Wisconsin

This language and cultural based camp sought to increase the knowledge of Menominee traditions for 30-40 campers aged 11-14 through self-concept & team building activities, talking circles, and gender based activities. Certified language teachers, police officers, prevention workers, AODA counselors, and archeologists were utilized as instructors. Elders provided teachings on singing, drumming, language, sweet grass basketry, & pottery.

Poarch Band Creek Diabetes Camp
Dadeville, Alabama

Prevention or delay of diabetes onset was the mission of this camp. Fifty children ages 8-12 were served. Goals included educating children and families about the risk factors of diabetes, motivation toward healthier lifestyles, increased physical activity and improved dietary choices. Instructors and volunteers included a physician, a registered dietician, chaperones and elders. Diabetic campers as well as non-diabetic campers’ blood glucose levels were checked daily.

WA-NONH-PAH-ZHEE, Looking into the Future and Beyond
Niobrara, Nebraska

The Ponca Tribe hosted 17 youth ages 9-12 for the WA-NONHPAH-ZEE Youth Camp to reintroduce children to culture that may have been lost during the tribes’ termination period. Eight campers were from the Ponca Tribe. Remaining campers were from the Yank-ton Sioux, Sisseton Sioux, Santee Sioux, Oglala Sioux, Winnebago and Omaha Nations. Campers participated in cultural and recreational activities as well as informative presentations on tribal government, diabetes and healthy living.

Allegany Johnson O’Malley Summer Initiative
Salamanca, New York

This program provided academic, recreational and cultural activities to 45 campers aged 5-14. Presentations were made on wildlife habitat, Iroquois stories with flutes, and health and dental care. Language was a strong component of the program with staff from the Seneca Nation Language Department providing activities. Students were accompanied on regional cultural fieldtrips by a tribal Elder.

Waa-saa-ghitlh-’a-nuu-wee-ya’ mvlh ‘aa-ghitlh-xat “Living our Ways through Language
Smith River, California

This program was designed to revitalize, preserve and strengthen the Tolowa culture and language for thirty-one campers, age 7-13. Social development and cultural identity were strengthened by the making of genealogy charts, games, art projects and regalia making. The highlight for most campers was the playing of “Sticks” on the beach.

Wellness Camp for American Indian Youth with Type II Diabetes, University of Arizona Native American Research & Training Center
Prescott, Arizona

This camp was created to address Native American children and adolescents with Type II diabetes. Most campers either have diabetes or are at high risk of developing it. Children learned to prevent and manage diabetes through diet therapy, exercise, diabetes and health promotion classes, and arts and crafts. Campers experienced improved self-esteem, renewed hope, personal empowerment and a respite from the feeling of being "the only one who has diabetes." More than 20 volunteers assisted with the camp, including physicians, nurses, counselors and instructors.


Diabetes Education & Prevention Program

In recent years, the primary focus of AAIA’s diabetes prevention program has been the creation of educational gatherings. These gatherings are not targeted at health care providers. Rather, the target is the larger population of Indian people diagnosed with or at risk for diabetes and their families. At these educational gatherings, diabetics learn about how to take better care of themselves while their family members and those at risk learn how to prevent the development of diabetes in themselves and how better to help care for a diabetic family member.

The approach has been to provide a comfortable, enjoyable, non-intimidating, non-clinical environment in which to learn about diabetes, diet and nutrition, physical activity for the able and disabled, and “taking control of your numbers”, such as blood pressure, blood sugar, hemoglobin-a-1-c, and cholesterol. Much of the education and physical activity takes place in small group workshops where people are more comfortable asking questions. The opportunity is also provided to ask questions anonymously. Another important aspect of the conferences has been the incorporation of traditional foods and cultural practices. An ancillary purpose of the conferences has been to educate tribal leadership about the nature and extent of the epidemic and the cultural and economic costs if it is not addressed.

The model for these gatherings was developed together with the Shako-pee Mdewakanton Dakota Community in Minnesota, which recently hosted the 6th Annual Northern Plains Native American Diabetes and Heart Disease Prevention Conference based upon the model developed by AAIA and Shakopee. AAIA co-hosted and was integrally involved with the planning and organizing of the first three conferences.

Using this model, AAIA co-hosted a conference with the Nebraska Inter-tribal Health Coalition and Nebraska tribes that was held in South Sioux City, Nebraska in April 2005. Late in 2005, we also entered into an agreement with the Prairie Band of Potawatomi Indians to hold a conference in Mayetta, Kansas in 2006.

In addition, AAIA’s summer camp program has funded several summer camps with a diabetes prevention focus in the last few years. In 2005, we funded the Poarch Band Creek Diabetes Camp in Dadeville, Alabama, the Wellness Camp for American Indian Youth with Type II Diabetes run by the University of Arizona Native American Research & Training Center and Wa-nonh-pah-zee, Looking into the Future and Beyond which was organized by the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. More information about each of these camps can be found in the Youth Summer Camp Program section of this Annual Report.


American Indian tribal nations exercise inherent sovereign authority over their members and territory. There are many impediments to the full exercise of this authority by tribal governments, however, including the refusal of the federal government to recognize a tribe, court decisions that limit the authority of tribal governments particularly with regard to jurisdiction over non-Indians on the reservation and a lack of organizational capacity and resources within some tribes which prevents them from effectively exercising that authority.

AAIA believes that effective tribal self-government is a critical component in ensuring that Indian people are able to reach their full potential in the 21st Century. Thus, we have worked for many years to support the exercise of that sovereignty, including playing an integral role in obtaining legislation strengthening tribal sovereignty – laws such as the Tribal Tax Status Act and Indian Child Welfare Act.

In 2005, AAIA continued our work in support of tribal sovereignty. AAIA provided key support for the efforts of the Piro/Manso/Tiwa Tribe in Las Cruces, New Mexico to prepare a comprehensive, documented petition for the Tribe to allow it to obtain recognition of its status by the Federal government. It is expected that the federal government will begin active consideration of this petition in 2007.

AAIA has also long supported legislation to increase resources to all tribal governments, thereby enhancing tribal sovereignty. Thus, in 2005, we played an active role in support of federal legislation providing for funding for tribal child welfare and foster care programming.

Indian Child Welfare

AAIA has continued its efforts to promote the well-being of Indian children and families through the appropriate implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act and related laws.

AAIA studies completed in the 1970s revealed that Indian children were placed in foster care and for adoption far more than non-Indian children. The results of these studies led Congress to invite AAIA to work with them to develop legislation to deal with this situation. That legislation became the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA). ICWA has provided vital protections to Indian children, families and tribes during the last 25 years.

In 2005, our efforts to protect Indian children and families have taken many forms.

Education: We served as a consultant to the Native American Rights Fund in its efforts to create an ICWA manual for practitioners. We also provided training to the Ohio Department of Human Services on Indian Child Welfare Act compliance.

Legislative Advocacy: We have been involved in legislative activities designed to strengthen protections for Indian children and families. We have actively supported and worked to develop legislation that would increase the capacity of tribes to provide protections and services for Indian families and children by making tribes eligible for direct federal funding under the Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance program. For the states (but not the tribes), this is an entitlement program that provides direct support to all children who meet certain income criteria and money to the state for administrative and training costs associated with the operation of the program. Although a Title IV-E provision based on a proposal developed by AAIA and the National Indian Child Welfare Association was included in the Senate version of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) reauthorization bill, it was not part of the bill actually passed by Congress. The bill that was enacted contained an alternative provision, a $2 million grant program for tribal demonstration projects

AAIA has also been active in developing tribal-specific amendments as part of broader child welfare reform legislation that is being considered in Congress.

Our legislative agenda also included a bill dealing with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). This legislation included amendments that we sought that would allow tribal home studies to be used for the purpose of interstate placements. In addition, we have worked with an American Public Human Services Association task force to develop tribal-specific language for a new ICPC that they are developing for consideration by the states.

Litigation: We have been involved in litigation involving the Indian Child Welfare Act. We filed an amicus brief in the New York case of In the Matter of the Adoption of Baby Boy C and worked closely with the attorneys for the Tohono O’odham Nation, an intervener in the case. In this case, the trial court had found, as a matter of constitutional law, that the ICWA could not be applied to a child whose parent was estranged from the tribe even though the parent was a member of the tribe. This is a variation of what is known as the “existing Indian family exception”. The New York Court of Appeals agreed with our arguments and reversed the trial court, finding that it would be constitutional to apply the case to the child in question and completely rejecting the existing Indian family doctrine.

The result in another case in which AAIA filed an amicus brief was not as successful from the tribal perspective. In the case of Doe v. Doe, the Court ruled that a termination era statute commonly known as Public Law 83-280 granted the State of California concurrent jurisdiction over a child welfare proceeding arising on the reservation.

Other: We continued to work with the National Indian Child Welfare Association on an important project involving the use of tribally licensed foster homes by the State of Washington. Our role was to establish the legal basis for the use of the homes, including the development of recommendations for changing state law.

Native American Religious Freedom, Sacred Lands and Repatriation

Protection of Sacred Lands and Traditional Cultural Places:

Photo: Don Doll

Traditional religious and ceremonial practices of Native Americans are inseparably bound to land and natural formations. Many of these sites that have been utilized by traditional Native American religious and cultural practitioners for millennia are threatened by adverse development – including expansion of ski areas, coal bed methane development or road construction. We have worked closely with tribes across the country to help them fight development that would have an adverse impact upon their sacred places and traditional cultural places. We are also working nationally to preserve and ultimately strengthen laws that are relevant to the protection of these places.

During 2005, we continued to provide direct assistance to tribal peoples seeking to protect a number of sacred places under threat.

We have continued our ongoing effort to protect Medicine Wheel/ Medicine Mountain in Wyoming, a site that is very sacred to many Plains tribes. AAIA has played an integral role in regard to Medicine Wheel and Medicine Mountain for many years. AAIA helped create the Medicine Wheel Coalition, a coalition of Plains Tribes who have a traditional history of using the Medicine Wheel and Medicine Mountain for spiritual purposes. With the assistance of AAIA, the Coalition negotiated and signed in 1996 a landmark Historic Preservation Plan agencies, designed to ensure that the entire area around Medicine Wheel and Medicine Mountain is managed in a manner that protects the integrity of the site as a sacred site.

In 1999, Wyoming Sawmills, a local logging company, filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the HPP, claiming that it violates the First Amendment of the Constitution and several federal laws. AAIA has represented the Medicine Wheel Coalition, an intervener in the litigation, throughout the case. In 2004, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the government and the Medicine Wheel Coalition and dismissed Wyoming Sawmills’ claim. In 2005, Wyoming Sawmills sought review by the United States Supreme Court. On behalf of the Coalition, we opposed review. The Supreme Court denied Sawmills petition, thereby upholding the Tenth Circuit decision and the HPP itself.

In 2005, the Bighorn Forest Service also adopted a new Forest Plan which fully incorporated the HPP, something for which the Association and the Coalition actively advocated. Thus, substantial progress was made toward the permanent protection of Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain during the last year.

In 2005, we also worked with tribes and their attorneys seeking to protect the San Francisco Peaks. The Peaks are very sacred to a number of tribes, including the Navajo, Hopi, Hualapai, Havasupai and Apache. The United States Forest Service has approved an expansion of the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Area, the most objectionable part of which is a proposal to use treated sewage effluent for snowmaking.

We worked closely with the attorneys of record to develop arguments based upon the Religious Freedom Restoration Act both at the administrative appeals and Federal District Court levels. The Forest Service denied the appeal and the District Court ruled against the tribes. An appeal will be filed with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and we will continue working in support of the tribes and traditional practitioners.

Other sites that AAIA has worked to protect include:

Petroglyph National Monument (New Mexico) – AAIA has provided support to a coalition of tribes seeking to prevent the construction of a road (Paseo del Norte) through the monument.

Rosebud and Wolf Mountain Battlefields (Montana) – AAIA appeared before the National Park Service Advisory Board Landmark Committee to support designation of these sites as National Historic Landmarks.

Sand Creek National Monument (Colorado) – AAIA worked with representatives of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe to successfully obtain legislation allowing for certain land to be taken into trust by the federal government that will help to make creation of this Monument a reality.

Tongue River Watershed (Montana) – The District Court ruled that adequate consultation with the Northern Cheyenne tribe had not taken place before the approval of coal bed methane leases and remanded the case back to the Bureau of Land Management for further consultation. AAIA joined in an amicus brief in support of the tribe in this case.

Otero Mesa (New Mexico) – AAIA joined in an amicus brief challenging oil and gas development in this area based upon the failure of the government to adequately consult with tribes under the National Historic Preservation Act.

ANWR (Alaska) – We continued to work with other organizations opposing oil and gas development in the Arctic Natural Wildlife Refuge.

National Policy – Religious Freedom and Sacred Lands:

During 2005, AAIA joined in an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). RLUIPA is a potential tool to protect the religious freedom rights of Native Americans. The Supreme Court ultimately upheld the constitutionality of RLUIPA. We also submitted testimony to the House Resources Committee opposing amendments to section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act that would have weakened the ability of tribes to use that law to protect sacred and traditional cultural places.

Repatriation of Human Remains, Funerary Objects, Sacred Objects and Cultural Patrimony

The Association played a key role in efforts to obtain enactment of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) in 1990. That law mandates repatriation of culturally affiliated human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and cultural patrimony to Indian tribes. We have worked since 1990 to promote the effective implementation of that Act and to encourage repatriation.

In 2005, our activities took varied forms. Some of these activities are described in the Public Education part of this Annual Report. In the legal arena, our activities included the following:

  • Working with other organizations to reverse legislatively an interpretation of NAGPRA by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Bonnischen v. United States case. That interpretation would remove many older human remains and sacred objects from coverage under the Act, an interpretation contrary to the original legislative intent. We filed testimony in support of legislation to address this issue that was introduced by Senator John McCain.
  • Filing an amicus brief in the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe v. Bureau of Land Management case pending in the Federal District Court of Nevada. This is a case involving ancient remains and objects found in Spirit Cave in Nevada. The Bureau of Land Management (on whose land the Cave was located) had found that the remains and objects were not culturally affiliated with the tribe, but the NAGPRA Review Committee created by the statute issued an advisory opinion disagreeing with that decision. One of the important issues in this case is whether the Court should refuse to provide deference to the BLM decision (as would normally be the case) notwithstanding the contrary opinion of the Review Committee.
  • Filed comments in response to a draft policy on human remains and cultural items proposed by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Public Education

Sacred Lands Protection Program

AAIA has developed comprehensive training materials that address the legal framework applicable to sacred lands and their protection, as well as issues that are relevant to effective consultation on these issues. A workshop based upon these materials was held at Redding Rancheria in California in May 2005. The workshop attracted tribal leaders, staff, traditional practitioners and activists, as well as federal employees working for land management agencies. Most of the participants were members of California Indian tribes. In 2006, we plan to hold additional workshops in other parts of the country for similar audiences.

We have also continued to make presentations in a variety of public forums, including the Annual Conference of the National Congress of American Indians, and to publish articles on this topic. For example, our Executive Director wrote an article entitled “Sacred Lands and Forest Management: How Can the Religious Freedom Needs of Native Americans be Accommodated” that appeared in Evergreen Magazine and has been reprinted in our newsletter, “Indian Affairs”.

Our legal and public education efforts are a systematic two prong approach designed to maximize our ability to change the way in which land use decisions are made in this country, thereby protecting these sacred places that are so critical to the continuation of American Indian cultures and religions.


During the past hundred years or so, a large number of ritual objects that are an integral part of American Indian cultures have been wrongfully removed from tribal communities. These objects command high prices in the art market today, but collectors and museums value them for their aesthetic and “exotic” appeal, not for their sacred functions. While some ritual objects ended up in U.S. museums that are now required to repatriate them under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), many others drifted into the possession of collectors and museums that are exempt from the law.

The NAGPRA legislation of 1990 requires the return of human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and cultural patrimony that ended up in federally funded institutions, but with only a few limited exceptions, no laws in the U.S. or elsewhere apply to objects owned by private collectors. Nor do laws restrict exportation of these objects to foreign countries. Auctions occur regularly in New York, Boston, San Francisco, and various European cities in which precious ceremonial objects are sold to the highest bidder, often never to be seen by the indigenous community again.

Native elders and traditional people tell us that no value can be ascribed to these sacred objects. They are living manifestations of spirit, given to their communities with specific songs, prayers, and rituals that help to keep those communities in balance with the world around them. The idea of “owning” ritual objects is not even understandable from a traditional perspective, because the objects belong to the entire Native community, not to one individual. Certain people may be assigned to care for them, but these individuals do not have the right to sell or give the objects away. Although collectors and museum staff may “conserve” an object in their care, they do not know the ceremonial requirements or rituals associated with its functions, and its sacred meaning, if known, is usually reduced to a paragraph of ethnohistorical description. The buying and selling of sacred objects has created a situation in which a segment of the international art market is responsible for the disruption of Native cultures. These actions could perhaps be compared to selling holy water from a Catholic church. American Indian sacred objects are irreplaceable. They cannot be considered just “art,” and they should not be for sale to the highest bidder.

Repatriation of human remains and cultural items, such as sacred objects, to Indian tribes has redressed a centuries-old human rights violation. There has been a long and sordid history of grave robbing and theft of sacred objects and tribal patrimony. As tribes have become able to rebury their ancestors and reclaim their cultural heritage, tremendous healing has begun to take place within Indian communities.

AAIA has had a long history of involvement in repatriation efforts, including playing an integral role in the advocacy effort led to the enactment of NAGPRA in 1990. Some of our legal activities relating to NAGPRA implementation can be found in the “Legal Affairs: Sacred Lands Protection and Repatriation” of this Annual Report.

More recently, a focus of the public education part of our repatriation program has been to educate the private art market about the difference between sacred objects and collectible art and to encourage collectors to repatriate human remains and cultural and sacred items that should be returned to the control of Indian tribes. In 2005, this public education effort has continued to generate successful repatriations from private collectors to tribes. The most significant repatriation in 2005 was the repatriation of an important item to the Hopi Tribe of Arizona. Out of respect for the tribe’s cultural beliefs, the details of the repatriation will be kept confidential. Our work also led to the repatriation of a Native skull that was advertised on EBay to the Monacan Nation.

Film Festival and Newsletter

In conjunction with the New School, AAIA sponsored an indigenous film festival in New York City. This program consisted of several short pieces by Native film makers that explore a variety of contemporary issues of concern to Native Americans. Discussion took place after each film that was facilitated by Beverly Singer, (Tewa/Dine), an independent film maker and author who is currently an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Native American Studies at the University of New Mexico.

The following pieces were shown:

"I Belong to This" by Dustinn Craig, White Mountain Apache/Dine'. The video is about a young indigenous couple discussing what it means to be Native in a non-Native world.

"The Snowbowl Effect" by Klee Benally, Dine'. Video outlines the impacts of a ski resort expansion and the use of waste water to produce snow on the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona.

"Paatuwaqatsi" by Victor Masayesva, Jr., Hopi. Video is about a special spiritual run to raise awareness for water that is being used and sold to Peabody Coal Company.

"Lonnie Vigil, Nambe Pueblo Potter," "Roxanne Swentzell, Santa Clara Pueblo Sculptor," and "Beverly Singer, Tewa/Dine' Scholar/ Videomaker." Produced by New Mexico CultureNet, Living Artist Portraits.

AAIA also produced two editions of its Indian Affairs newsletter which included articles about contemporary Indian issues and culture, as well as information about AAIA programs and activities.

Financial Statement

Financial Position

2005 2004
Current Assets
Cash/Cash Equivalents
Interest Bearing $81,696 $86,516
Non-Interest Bearing - 1,172
Investments (Marketable Securities) 1,528,184 1,461,344
Other Receivables 58,447 4,819
Prepaid Expenses 12,939 9,928
Total Current Assets 1,681,266 1,563,779
Furniture/Equipment 168,475 168,475
Leasehold Improvements 14,901 14,901
183,376 183,376
Less Accumulated Depreciation (170, 618) (164,195)
12,758 19,181
$1,694,024 $1,582,960

Note: This summary of financial information has been extracted from AAIA’s audited financial statements prepared by the accounting firm Thurman, Comes, Foley & Co. , LLP. Complete audited financials are available upon request.

2005 2004
Current Liabilities
Accounts Payable $9,596 $11,534
Accrued Payroll Taxes 691 71
Accrued Vacation 13,564 9,035
Total Current Liabilities 23,851 20,640
Net Assets
Unrestricted 564,975 247,787
Temporarily Restricted 527,375 736,710
Permanently Restricted 577,823 577,823
Total Net Assets 1,670,173 1,562,320
  $1,694,024 $1,582,960

Note: This summary of financial information has been extracted from AAIA’s audited financial statements prepared by the accounting firm Thurman, Comes, Foley & Co. , LLP. Complete audited financials are available upon request.


2005 2004
Revenues, Gains and Other Support
Contributions/Dues $284,021 $416,059
Legacies 624,938 366,834
Grants 89,681 174,620
Investment Income 37,371 31,415
Media Sales 20,413 19,888
Other Income 12,185 15,211
In-Kind Contributions 8,940 -
Realized Gain (losses) on Investment (84,890) 43,805
Unrealized Gain on Investment 122,718 84,024
Net Assets Released from Restrictions
Satisfaction of Restrictions - -
Total Revenues, Gains and Other Support 1,115,377 1,148,856

Note: This summary of financial information has been extracted from AAIA’s audited financial statements prepared by the accounting firm Thurman, Comes, Foley & Co. , LLP. Complete audited financials are available upon request.

2005 2004
Youth, Education & Scholarships
379,445 293,637
Health 51,957 50,627
Legal Affairs 139,366 142,817
Public Education 95,519 102,610
Total Program Expenses 666,287 589,691
Supporting Services
General and Administrative 90,557 75,164
Fundraising 250,680 234,001
Total Supporting Expenses 341,237 309,165
Total Expenses 1,007,524 898,856
Change in Net Assets $107,853 $250,000
Net Assets, Beginning $1,562,320 $1,312,320
Change in Net Assets 107,853 250,000
Net Assets, Ending $1,670,173 $1,562,320

Note: This summary of financial information has been extracted from AAIA’s audited financial statements prepared by the accounting firm Thurman, Comes, Foley & Co. , LLP. Complete audited financials are available upon request.

Board of Directors


Alfred R. Ketzler, Sr.

Vice President

DeeAnn DeRoin, MD


Bradford R. Keeler


Joy Hanley

Board Members

Owanah Anderson

Wathene Young

John Echohawk

Jerry Flute

Tom Acevedo



Advisory Board Members

Lucy Kramer Cohen
Dr. Francesca Kress
Benita Potters
Alvin Josephy
Howard Teich


Executive Office

Executive Director

Jack F. Trope

Executive Assistant
Director of Scholarship Programs

Lisa Wyzlic
Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians

Director of Development

Sheryl McCreary
Fond Du Lac Chippewa


Denise Chang

Field Office

Wendy Sheffer Flute, Director of Direct Mail

Sylvester Goodteacher, Accounts Receivable
Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate

Language Program Office

Tammy DeCoteau, Director of Language Programs
Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate

Language Program Elders

Orsen Bernard
Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate

Wayne Eastman
Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate

Delbert Pumpkinseed
Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate

Clara Eagle
Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate

V. June Renville
Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate

Family Dakotah Language Learning Center

Olivia Eastman, Elder Teacher
Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate

Jessica Redday, Classroom Assistant
Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate

Show Your Support

AAIA receives contributions from grants, foundations, bequests, trusts, on-line contributions and membership dues. Consistent financial support helps AAIA continue to fund the programs described in this report. AAIA has the following avenues by which you can show your support.

  • Membership—By contributing $25 per year you can assist us in supporting programs that are vitally important to Indian communities. You will receive program updates through our newsletter Indian Affairs, which is published twice per year. You will also be invited to attend our Annual Meeting of the Members (which is open to the public) in November in New York City, or to vote by proxy.
  • Spread the Word—Invite family and friends to join AAIA.
  • On-Line Giving—Donate on-line through Network for Good on our website at
  • Monthly Gifts—Consider a monthly gift to AAIA, which can be easily paid by credit card or automatically deducted from your bank account.
  • Matching Gift Program—Many companies offer Matching Gift Programs. Generally, any charitable contribution can be matched in whole, or in part, by the company you work for. Visit your Human Resources Department and ask if donations to AAIA can be matched and use their Matching Gifts Contribution form. By using the Matching Gift Program, you can possibly double the amount of money you donate to AAIA.
  • Bequests and Trusts—Remember AAIA in your will. Consider contributions of a specific sum, a percentage of your estate or stocks and bonds.

The Association on American Indian Affairs is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) publicly supported organization.


2005 Summer Camps




2005-2006 Scholarship Recipients


Contact Information

Executive Office

966 Hungerford Drive
Suite 12-B
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: 240-314-7155
Fax: 240-314-7159

Field Office

2009 SD Hwy. 10 Suite B
Sisseton, SD 57262
Phone: 605-698-3998
Fax: 605-698-3316

AAIA Language Program

12565 BIA Hwy. 7-11
Tiospa Zina Drive
Agency Village, SD 57262
Phone: 605-698-4400 x 367
Fax: 605-698-7067


The Association on American Indian Affairs is a non-profit, tax exempt corporation as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations and contributions to AAIA are tax deductible to the extent provided by law.