The Eastern Association on Indian Affairs was started in New York in 1922 to assist a group of Pueblo people seeking to protect their land rights. The following decades saw it growing and merging with other like-minded organizations and it became the Association on American Indian Affairs (AAIA) in 1946.
Over the years AAIA has played an integral part in drafting a number of important laws, including the Indian Child Welfare Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and the Tribal Governmental Tax Status Act. We have established organizations like the Medicine Wheel Coalition for the Protection of Sacred Sites and negotiated landmark agreements to protect sacred lands such as the Bighorn Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain in Wyoming. We have awarded thousands of scholarships to Native American college and graduate students. See our history here.
AAIA is a national Indian organization with offices in Maryland, South Dakota and North Carolina. We are governed by an all-Native American Board of Directors from across the country. Our programs fall into three main categories: youth/education, cultural preservation and sovereignty.
Here are some of the ways that we’re unique as an organization:
- We are the oldest Indian advocacy organization in the United States.
- We are an independent organization and take very little federal government money.
- We work on issues and problems that are vitally important such as sacred lands protection and Native language preservation, but which do not receive the attention that they otherwise deserve.
- We work at both the grass roots level and nationally.
- We not only provide legal assistance, but also provide programming, cash grants and scholarships to Indian tribes, organizations and students.
- Our programs are designed for the long haul, generating successes step by step through our persistent efforts.
As approved by our board, our mission is to promote the well-being of American Indian and Alaska Natives by
- Promoting the health, education and welfare of children and youth;
- Sustaining and perpetuating tribal languages and cultures;
- Protecting tribal sovereignty, religions and natural resources;
- Advocating for tribal constitutional, legal and human rights.
By supporting AAIA, you are supporting programs that benefit Native American people across the country.