Our History

Mission: “We provide financial support for American Indians and Alaska Natives seeking higher education and support them in attaining undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. We partner with Tribes, the federal government, foundations, corporations, and individuals to ensure the growth and sustainability of scholarships.”

Vision: “Building on a 50-year legacy, AIGC will continue to be the premier national resource in funding and empowering the next generation of Native leaders across all sectors, by meeting the unmet need of every Native American student.”






Chronological History

  • AIGC’s 2014 Annual Reception, “Celebrating 45 Years of Providing Scholarships” is held at the Albuquerque Isotopes Baseball Park. Honorees include: Bruce Bleakman and REDW; Dr. Grayson Noley (Choctaw Nation); Dr. Darlene Sorrell (Navajo Nation); Steve Stallings (Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians) and Dr. Wayne Watkins, AIGC Alumnus (Oglala Sioux). The evening included a successful silent auction, with a number of exclusive items donated by artists, collectors, jewelers and other craftsmen.
  • The 2014 Spring and Fall issues of The American Indian Graduate magazine highlight “Stories of AIGC Alumni Through Time”. The stories are written by our accomplished AIGC Alumni of their journeys through life.
  • AIGC celebrates its 45th anniversary – nearly a half-century of efforts dedicated to improving cultural and economic wellbeing for individuals and tribes through graduate education. While the years speak to our tenure, our scholars speak to our progress: over 16,600 graduate fellowships and over $52 million in scholarships. The gradual growth of AIGC has been made possible through the support of federal programs, private foundations, individual endowments and alumni giving.
  • In 2014, the Department of the Interior announced that quarterly transfers, to the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund, are set to begin. The Scholarship Fund was authorized by the historic Cobell Settlement, approved in November 2012, to provide financial assistance through annual scholarships to American Indian and Alaska Native students wishing to pursue post-secondary education and training.
  • In the fall of 2013, The American Indian Graduate Center elected officers and new board members. Grayson Noley (Choctaw Nation), will serve as Board President; Melanie Patten Fritzsche (Laguna Pueblo), as Vice President and Rose Graham (Navajo), as Secretary and Treasurer. Board members include Michael Bird (Kewa and Ohkay Owingeh Pueblos) and Danna R. Jackson, Esq. (Confederated Tribes of Salish and Kootenai). Walter Lamar (Blackfeet) and Joel Frank (Seminole Tribe of Florida) are new board members.
  • AIGC’s 2013 Annual Reception, “The Power of Scholarship”, is held at the Albuquerque Isotopes Baseball Park. Honorees include: JoAnn Melchor (Kewa); D. Rhoades Schroeder; Catherine Stetson; Ernie Stevens (Oneida Nation of Wisconsin) and National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA); Dr. Kevin Tehee, AIGC Alulmnus (Cherokee Nation) and Governor Vincent Toya along with the Pueblo of Jemez. The evening included a successful silent auction, with a number of exclusive items donated by artists, collectors, jewelers and other craftsmen.
  • AIGCS Hosts the 2013 Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Alternative Spring Break (ASB). The ASB brought together 48 scholars and alumni from around the nation, of all nationalities, to experience a transformational seven-day program serving Albuquerque, New Mexico and surrounding communities. Services were performed for the Pueblo of Jemez, Native American Community Academy (NACA), First Nations Community Health Source, Amy Biehl School, Santo Domingo Pueblo, Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico, PeacePal, Mandy’s Farm and the New Mexico Community Health Workers Association.
  • AIGC launches “The Power of Scholarship” initiative. The “Power” in our initiative took on a triple meaning… serving as a conduit for advancing education opportunity among American Indian and Alaska Native students, engaging the collective strength of AIGC supporters to empower those on the educational path and recognizing our alumni are making huge contributions throughout Indian Country in their careers.
  • AIGC’s 2012 Annual Reception, “Celebrating Education and Tribes”, is coupled with an Open House, at the new location. Honorees include: Sam English; Thalden – Boyd – Emery Architects; Shenan Atcitty and Marlene J. Begay AIGC alumnae; the Shakopee Mdewakaton Sioux Community and LDD Consulting. The evening included a successful silent auction, with a number of exclusive items donated by artists, collectors, jewelers and other craftsmen.
  • In addition to hard-copy, an electronic version of the AIGC application is now available online. The application fee is eliminated for those students applying online.
  • Many of the processes for the Gates Millennium Scholars Program are being centralized in the UNCF office in Fairfax, Virginia.
  • AIGC’s annual reception is held at the Albuquerque Isotopes Baseball Park. Honorees are: AIGC alumni, Stacy Leeds and Marvin P. Luna; Public Service Company of New Mexico and the Choctaw Nation’s Scholarship Advisement Program (SAP). The evening included a successful silent auction, with a number of exclusive items donated by artists, collectors, jewelers and other craftsmen.
  • The American Indian Graduate Center receives $110,231.00, from the estate of Rose Bogus, for scholarship support.
  • In October, AIGC and AIGCS relocate to 3701 San Mateo Blvd. NE, Suite 200, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • AIGC receives the YAWÁ’ award for education, from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.
  • The American Indian Graduate Center receives $866,398.80, from the estate of Jeanne Avengo, in memory of the John Avegno Family, for general support of the organization.
  • AIGC holds its first annual reception, during the Gathering of Nations, and honors AIGC alumni, Melonie Mathews and Dr. Kevin Goodluck; corporate supporter, Wells Fargo Bank and tribal supporter, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.
  • For the second year, AIGC participates in the Balloon Fiesta.
  • AIGC celebrates 40 years of providing scholarships to Native American and Alaska Native students. A special logo is created for the year.
  • In October, AIGC hosts an exhibit at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The week-long participation includes many of the Navajo Code Talkers, a drum group, face painting and the Wallatowa Head Start dancers.
  • Sam Deloria becomes the Director of the American Indian Graduate Center.
  • Among the four Gates Millennium Scholars Partners, AIGC Scholars receives the highest number of national online applications.

In 2007, Sam Deloria becomes the Director of the American Indian Graduate Center. AIGCS receives the highest number of on-line nominee submissions nationally among other Gates Millennium partners.

  • AIGC hosts the “Walking in Two Worlds” national conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • The National Scholarship Providers Association names the American Indian Graduate Center as the 2005-2006 Scholarship Provider of the Year.
  • The American Indian Graduate Center receives funding from Accenture, LLP, to administer the Accenture American Indian Scholarship program.
  • The United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Education expands its current contract with AIGC, to add the $750,000 Loan for Service program.
  • The Tommy Hilfiger Foundation sponsors the first All Native American High School Academic Team.
  • The American Indian Graduate Center receives an endowment of $300,000.00, from Wells Fargo Bank, for implementation of new Wells Fargo American Indian Scholarships.
  • AIGC leases additional office space, on the first floor of the building at 4520 Montgomery Blvd. NE, in Albuquerque. The added space will allow for a conference room, expanded storage space and access for guests who are unable to navigate the stairs.
  • Proceeds of $208,315.33, from the estate of Jeanette R. Elmer, are used to create the Jeanette R. Elmer Graduate Scholarship. As stipulated by the donor, each year, beginning in 2005, $9,000.00 will be distributed to American Indian students, from tribes in Wisconsin, Arizona and New Mexico, who are engaged in full-time graduate studies, with a priority afforded to library science majors.
  • Two students received the first John Rainer Memorial Fellowships.
  • Ten (10) Business Administration graduate students receive fellowships, funded by the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA).
  • Native Americans, everywhere, are saddened by the death of Robert Bennett, on July 11.
  • Dr. Molly Tovar is appointed C.O.O. of AIGC and C.E.O. of AIGC Scholars.
  • Norbert Hill establishes the Council of 100 and the inaugural meeting is held in September. The Council is composed of distinguished leaders, scholars and traditional individuals, who will assist AIGC in mentoring, evaluating application essays and student leadership training.
  • AIGC begins publishing “The American Indian Graduate” magazine.
  • John Rainer dies on September 22.
  • AIGC is selected to administer the Gates Millennium Scholar Program for American Indians/Alaska Natives, resulting in the doubling of AIGC staff and office space. American Indian Graduate Center Scholars is formed to manage the program.
  • During the annual conference of the Society of American Indian Dentists, held in Phoenix, AZ, the “Dr. George Blue Spruce, Jr. Scholarship” is established to assist eligible American students, who plan to attend dental school. AIGC is chosen to administer the scholarship.
  • Norbert S. Hill, Jr. becomes Executive Director of AIGC.

In 2000, AIGC assumes administration of the Gates Millennium Scholar Program for American Indians/Alaska Natives, resulting in doubling of AIGC staff and office space. American Indian Graduate Center Scholars is formed to manage the program.

  • The AIGC Board of Directors creates an Investment Committee.
  • Computer updates are implemented, to be Y2K compliant.
  • A recognition banquet marks the organization’s 30th year and there is an excellent response to the Alumni Profile Questionnaire.
  • AIGC initiates a web site.
  • Eloy Barreda establishes the Grace Wall Barreda Memorial Scholarship Fund, with an initial endowment amount of $187,713.95. This scholarship is available to full-time graduate students meeting specific criteria.
  • One hundred forty-seven (147) women and one hundred seventeen (117) men receive AIGC fellowships.
  • A new four-year BIA contract begins.
  • Funds from the Arrow Scholarship Fund, in memory of Ruth Muskrat Bronson, are transferred to AIGC, from the Save the Children Federation. Graduate student candidates for this scholarship must be a full-time student going into a health-related field and must be from an Oklahoma tribe. The daughter of Ruth Muskrat Bronson, Delores Tidrick, signs a new agreement, designating these funds as the Ruth Muskrat Bronson Scholarship Fund.
  • Due to budget cuts, only continuing students are funded for 1995-1996. Fields of study, with the highest numbers, are law and health, with 161 and 160 students, respectively, out of 538 students; followed by 59 in education and 49 in business.
  • AIGC surveys all federally-recognized tribes to identify future employment needs. The top ten professional needs are (in order): business managers, lawyers, accountants, natural resource managers, doctors, teachers, counselors, financial analysts, engineers and computer technicians. Additional survey information revealed that an estimated 89% of tribal members earned $20,000, or less, and that only 3% had a college degree.
  • An Advisory Council, composed of community leaders, bankers, ad agency personnel and local Indian community leaders, is formed. Its primary focus is to assist in finding a broader perspective to the AIGC mission.
  • The 2nd Annual NM Indian Golf Scholarship Tournament nets $8,000. At a pre-tournament luncheon, UNM President, Richard Peck, presents Mateo Romero (Cochiti Pueblo) and Rosemary Maestas (San Juan Pueblo) with scholarships from the 1994 golf tournament proceeds.
  • The final distribution, from the Marie R. Peet estate, is received. Ms. Peet’s bequest totals $186,566.40, which will be added to the Gerald D. Peet Endowed Scholarship Fund.
  • AIGC adopts a participatory management policy, placing major responsibility, for programmatic functions, under the planning, decision-making authority and action of the employees.
  • A new accounting package is purchased, to expand report production and facilitate audits.
  • The inaugural NM Indian Golf Scholarship Tournament raises $6,000; however, stock market instability causes a $58,000 decline in the market value of organizational investments.
  • The Board of Directors approves a $10.00 application fee.
  • AIGC celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary.
  • AIGC is awarded a three-year contract renewal of the BIA’s Special Higher Education Program. The Year 1 award is $2,218,750. Expense allocations for FY 1993 are: 90% for fellowship grants, 5% for administrative overhead and 5% for direct student services.
  • AIGC publishes an 80-page,American Indian college student tracking project, “Report on the 1992-1993 Academic Year”, providing information on 1,536 Indian students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees. The report emphasizes the need for cooperation and participation from the federal scholarship programs (BIA, IHS, the Department of Education, tribal and Indian organization scholarship programs, university Indian program offices and private minority scholarship programs).
  • Due to the rapid rise in the number of applications, the maximum/average award declines, from $4,438 – $10,000, for 1990-1991, to $3,568 – $6,000, for 1993-1994. AIGC begins restricting awards to a set number of students.
  • To facilitate the application process and save resources and staff time, AIGC eliminates requirements that applicants provide two recommendation letters, programs of study, signed check receipts, LSATs (from law applicants) and financial aid certification.
  • Former Director of AIGC, Lorraine Edmo, becomes Executive Director of National Indian Education Association (NIEA).
  • Checks received from the Elizabeth Furber estate total $286,437.84. These funds will be added to the $19,000.00, received as personal contributions, from 1980 – 1985, for a total of $305,437.84.
  • AIGC is the host and sponsoring organization for the 1992 NIEA annual conference in Albuquerque.
  • AIGC receives 763 applications, the largest number ever, and awards 427 fellowships (237 women and 190 men), for 1991-1992.
  • Four to five hundred (400-500) students have been entered into the tracking project database; the goal is 1,500 entries by July 1992.
  • The American Indian Graduate Program, at UC Berkeley, celebrates its 20th anniversary. AIGC Executive Director, Lorraine Edmo, is on the Board of Directors for that program and attends the celebration.
  • The ‘Indian Nations at Risk Task Force’ identifies the failure of schools to educate large numbers of Indian students, as one of four reasons why Indian nations are at risk as a people.
  • AIGC receives a $65,000.00 grant, from the Department of Energy, for a tracking project for development of a national database of all Indian college students, for use in identifying potential graduate students, making internship and employment opportunities available and identifying and documenting the needs of Indian students.
  • A new American Indian Teacher Training Program, at Oklahoma City University, is featured in the “Graduate Opportunities” section of the spring 1990 ‘American Indian Graduate Record’. This program will accept ten Indian participants, per year, for three years, and lead to an M.A. in teaching, with an emphasis on gifted and talented education.
  • AIGC begins a comprehensive development program, with funding from the Educational Foundation of American. Federal revenues decline 3%, while private fund revenues increase 31%.
  • Word is received that Elizabeth Furber has died, leaving ¼ of her estate to AGIC for the Furber Trust.
  • AIGC’s investments are earning 9.55%.
  • The organization name is formally changed to ‘American Indian Graduate Center’ to reflect its expansion in becoming a national center, dealing with expanded services and activities, and to better identify AIGC as working exclusively in graduate and professional education.
  • Four hundred people attend two days of 20th anniversary events, including a symposium on Indian graduate education, corporate table sponsorship, benefit art auction and dinner/dance. John Rainer and Robert Bennett are honored and JoAnn Chase, Dorothy Fire Cloud and John Haupt are the first recipients of the fellowship awards from the Thomas W. Echohawk Memorial Scholarship.
  • AIGC begins a degree completion survey of recipients, commencing with the past five year; ultimately, to include all past fellows.
  • Marie R. Peet, who originated the Gerald D. Peet Endowed Scholarship Fund dies. Ms. Peet’s estate leaves AIGC additional funds, which will be added to the original endowment.
  • AIGC experiences a baby boom (3) among the staff.

In 1989, American Indian Scholarships, Inc. changed its name to become the American Indian Graduate Center (AIGC). It is still the only national non-profit organization dedicated to aiding Indian graduate students in all fields of study. As a non-profit organization, AIGC prides itself on maintaining a very low administrative cost. In fact 90% of all contributions go directly to student services. We view this careful management of our resources as just one way to meet our goal: to improve the cultural and economic well being of American Indians and Native Alaskans, individually and tribally, through graduate education.

  • The Board defines AIGC’s mission as “[Dedication} to financially assisting Indian graduate students, in studies at the master’s and doctoral level…by trying to raise the funds to enable [them] to attend graduate school and then encourage them to return to their tribe, their community, or a public or private agency providing service to American Indian people.” The Board also establishes three primary goals: expand fundraising, especially in the private sector; redefine AIGC, as a multi-service rather than solely a scholarship organization, and enter into cooperative efforts with other Indian groups and tribal scholarship offices.
  • AIGC will administer a law scholarship established in memory of Thomas W. Echohawk, who died in a vehicle accident, at age thirty. Thomas was the brother of board member, Lucille Echohawk (both are descendants of the famed Pawnee scout, Echo Hawk.
  • One hundred fifty-two (152) women and one hundred forty (140) men receive funding from AIGC. The numbers for each field of study are: law – 103, health – 83, education – 63, business – 32, engineering – 7, religious studies – 2, natural resources – 1 and fine arts – 1.
  • Upon AIGC’s recommendation, the BIA adds social work as a health-related, priority field, eliminates the ¼ blood requirement and limits eligibility to students attending U.S. colleges.
  • Although $1.6million was awarded in fellowships, AIGC was unable to provide another $500,000 requested. Students in priority area studies have increased to 87%, primarily due to absorbing the law program.
  • AIGC prevails in a lawsuit, filed by a man denied funding because he was not a member of a federally-recognized tribe.
  • AIGC moves to 4520 Montgomery Blvd. NE, in Albuquerque.
  • The BIA’s two Indian graduate programs are consolidated and AIGC is awarded the contract. Administration of the Indian Law Scholarship program is transferred, from the American Indian Law Center to AIGC. Law is added as a BIA priority area of study.
  • AIGC seeks a contract revision to provide students with the cost of professional exams.
  • AIGC adds a part-time development officer, on a trial basis, to raise funds in the private sector.
  • Program administrative costs are at 15.7%, a figure well below the national nonprofit average.
  • A bequest of $35,000 is received from the estate of Samuel Freeman.
  • Both AIGC and the American Indian Law Center oppose BIA plans to combine the two graduate programs under one contract. The BIA approves $2,000 for AIGC to prepare and annual report. The 1985-1986 BIA contract is $958,000, which includes $15,000 for a new computer system – a WANG Multi-user PC.
  • The Coors Brewing Company will sponsor promotional luncheons in Colorado, Oklahoma and California. The company also printed the BIA-mandated AIGC brochure, free of charge.
  • An Inspector General’s audit questions AIGC’s accuracy, for statistical and student data reporting, and its promotion of BIA priority fields of study: health, business, education, natural resources and engineering. In fiscal years 1984 and 1985, 66% of awards were for priority areas.
  • AIGC moves to 5106 Grand NE, in Albuquerque, and starts a newsletter, The American Indian Graduate Record.
  • Staff members present financial aid workshops, at the NIEA annual meeting.
  • Yale University and the First Nations Financial Project initiate a Master’s degree in public and private management, for Indian students or professionals working in reservation economic development, financial management or tribal government.
  • New AIGC Director, Lorraine Edmo, presents proposed policy statements regarding applicant grievance procedures, a three-year maximum eligibility for funding and applicants seeking second and third Master’s degrees.
  • Board member, Joe Sando, proposes that AIGC begin producing an annual report and Director Edmo agrees.
  • AIGC will relocate to Albuquerque, by June 1, but maintain the Taos office through June 30. A truck is rented and staff moves the office to 335 Jefferson Street S.E., in Albuquerque.
  • AIGC obtains two corporate credit cards, for use by the Director and Financial Officer, with a yearly report of usage, presented to the board.
  • The accounting system is changed, from posting by hand to a ‘one-write’ method.
  • Board liability insurance is contemplated.
  • The AIGC contract will be put out for bid, a drastic change from past years, during which AIGC contracted with the BIA on a sole-source basis. (The bid was later cancelled.)
  • John Rainer participates in a Senate Budget Committee field hearing on science and math education, in Albuquerque, and later testifies before the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees of Interior Affairs, urging funding for Indian higher education.
  • The House of Representatives approves recommendation of a $978,000 BIA contract.
  • John Rainer recommends the addition of an office manager to the staff, allowing the director to concentrate on fundraising. Mr. Rainer retires effective December 31.
  • Board member, Alice Bathke, proposes a ‘special equipment’ line item be added to the budget. This item would be used for computers, etc.
  • An AIGC survey indicates the organization is providing financial assistance to less than one-fifth of all the Indians, in the United States, attending graduate school. Due to financial constraints, for fiscal year 1981-1982, AIGC assisted only 158, of the estimated 1,000, Indian graduate students in the nation. AIGC provides an average award of $3,700, while the estimated minimum, post-graduate annual cost is $5,000. Eighty of the current 158 recipients are women.
  • Frank L. Oberly, a CPA from Oklahoma City, is retained to establish a new set of accounting records, train AIGC bookkeeper, Michael Kipepassah, set up a property control system and conduct an audit.
  • AIGC plans a buffalo barbecue, in honor of both the opening of World College, in Las Vegas, and Prince Charles, of England, who will attend.
  • The National Indian Lutheran Board donates $10,000, as seed money, to generate more funding. Exxon, Texaco, Arco and Syntex also contribute. In response to proposals submitted by Dr. Dean Chavers, $35,000 is generated.
  • AIGC receives $125,000.00, from the Katrin Lamon estate. The principle of the fund is to remain intact, in an interest bearing account, with the interest used to fund post-graduate students in the areas of literature, communication, journalism or related fields.
  • The Reagan administration reduces funding for all levels of Indian higher education from $282 million to $169 million.
  • AIGC board votes to approve additional applications but has to notify the awardees that funding will be delayed due to the drastic reduction of BIA contract funds.
  • In October, John Rainer speaks at a luncheon-reception held in New York to recruit funds for AIGC. In Taos, the Nicolai Fechin Institute holds an art show and sale to benefit AIGC.
  • AIGC signs a subcontract with Funke & Associates to implement a portion of the Administration for Native Americans grant.
  • Marie R. Peet establishes the Gerald D. Peet Endowed Scholarship Fund, with AIGC, in memory of her husband. Initial funding of $76,768.00 is to remain in an interest bearing account, with the interest being used to fund for assisting American Indian medical students, who will practice medicine ‘among their people’ for a period of two years, following receipt of their medical license.
  • In October, John Rainer, after conferring with the board, declines an appointment to the board of trustees of his alma mater, Bacone College, in order to devote adequate time to his work with AIGC.
  • The AIGC board votes to handle an endowment from the Peet Foundation to support Indian medical students.
  • AIGC receives $186,000 from the Administration of Native Americans for a Human Resource Mobilization Project to find sources of funding and document and classify alumni for a job referral service.
  • A $1,000.00 check is received from Ms. Elizabeth Furber. Contributions are to be accumulated, as the “Furber Trust, in an interest bearing account until direction is received regarding the final disposition. Ms. Furber’s will contains a provision for continued payments to the fund after her death. This endowment is to be used for American Indian women pursuing graduate degrees in the Fine Arts and Literary Arts fields.
  • Sales of the book, Indians of Today, donated by the Donner Foundation, net almost $8,000.
  • To evaluate program effectiveness and collect information for future proposals, a questionnaire is sent to all past recipients.
  • The director of the UC Berkeley Master’s in Public Health Program requests assistance in meeting student needs and offers to work with AIGC to seek funding.
  • AIGC moves the office to a garage on John Rainer’s property in Taos.
  • The Blue Spruce family of the late Dr. Beryl Blue Spruce, establishes a scholarship for American Indian medical students, studying Obstetrics and Gynecology, with priority given to Pueblo students.
  • Robert Bennett, David Warren and Joe Sando sign the articles of incorporation, required under New Mexico law, and the program title is changed to American Indian Scholarships, Inc.

In 1971, AIS incorporated in the state of New Mexico as a non-profit organization. In 1972, a seed grant from the Donner Foundation led to the development of a contract with the BIA. The Special Higher Education Program is still our major funding source, and had grown from $100,000 to $2,400,000 (1995), but has been drastically reduced since then.

  • Bennett becomes director of UNM’s American Indian Law Center.
  • The American Indian Graduate Scholarship Program Committee, John Rainer presiding, holds its first meeting October 10. Members are Ada Deer, Overton James, David Warren, Leah Manning, Charles Trimble, Joe Sando, and Francis McKinley. Members vote to set up an independent office and apply for tax exempt status, and name Robert Bennett general director.
  • On November 14, John Rainer announces a $15,000 transfer from the Donner Foundation to provide direct scholarship assistance. The Donner grant leads to the development of the contract with the BIA. Donald A. McCabe, UNM graduate student in Business Administration (and future president of Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute) is awarded $1,200.
  • John Rainer is named to direct the New Mexico Commission of Indian Affairs.
  • Robert Bennett asks John Rainer to meet regarding national Indian issues.
  • Robert Bennett resigns as BIA commissioner and becomes Native consultant on board projects for the Donner Foundation.
  • Bennett and Bogus establish the National Indian Scholarship Program at the University of New Mexico on August 15.

In 1969, important government positions related to Indian concerns were being filled by non-Indians who possessed the graduate education necessary to meet the job qualifications. Robert L. Bennett (Oneida) was Commissioner of Indian Affairs for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) at the time. He and John C. Rainer, Sr. (Taos Pueblo) realized that there was a lack of American Indians with professional degrees. Knowing that Indian people need financial assistance to complete their graduate work, they established American Indian Scholarships (AIS).

  • The BIA reports 13 American Indian graduate students in the entire nation.
  • Robert Bennett is named commissioner of Indian Affairs by President Johnson and implements an innovative open communication policy within the BIA and with Congress.
  • Robert Bennett presents his plans for BIA reorganization to BIA area directors in Santa Fe NM. Two hundred representatives of sixty-two tribes meet about Indian education issues after being refused admission to the BIA conference.
  • John Rainer is elected chair of the All-Indian Pueblo Council. There he unsuccessfully seeks support for Indian suffrage.
  • John Rainer is elected director of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).
  • Will Rogers, Jr. convinces John Rainer to become involved in national Indian affairs.
  • Robert Bennett receives his law degree from Southwestern University.