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Curry-Weissbrodt Papers


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

James E. Curry Papers

I.S. Weissbrodt Papers

Alaska Reference Materials

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Curry-Weissbrodt Papers, 1930-1979 | Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

By Flora M. Beierly (1981) Zachary R. Jones (2009)

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Collection Overview

Title: Curry-Weissbrodt Papers, 1930-1979Add to your cart.

ID: MS/026

Primary Creator: Curry, James E. (1907-1972)

Other Creators: Alaska Native Brotherhoood, Central Council for the Tlingit and Haida Indians of Alaska, Weissbrodt, I. S. (1910-)

Extent: 70.0 Boxes


Series 1: The Curry Papers

Series 2: The Weissbrodt Papers

Series 3: The Alaska Reference Materials

Date Acquired: 07/21/1982

Subjects: Alaska Native Brotherhood--History., Haida Indians--History., Tlingit Indians--History.

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This seventy-one box collection contains papers and legal documents gathered, generated, and amassed by the two main law firms that represented the Tlingit and Haida Indians from 1945 to the signing of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. These two separate law firms were led by James E. Curry and I. S. Weissbrodt, both of whom were well established lawyers with backgrounds in represented Native American Indian tribes across the United States.

James E. Curry was first hired by the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood (ANB and ANS) in 1945, and Curry represented them for a decade. In 1957 I. S. “Lefty” Weissbrodt replaced Curry, though Curry continued to assist Weissbrodt after Weissbrodt’s hire. Weissbrodt, however, was employed by both ANB/ANS and the federally recognized tribal government the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA). The materials in this collection comprise and document, in great detail, the legal actions and interests of the Tlingit and Haida people as represented by ANB/ANS and CCTHITA for nearly three decades and during a crucial period in the legal and political history of the Tlingit and Haida Indians.

The materials in this collection document this three decade legal representation. While more than half of this collection concerns the Tlingit and Haida land claims movement (which also documents aspects of the land claims movement on a state-wide level), the collection also details many legal ventures and actions outside of the land claims movement. Topics outside of the land claims movement documented in this collection include, but are not limited to; opposition to the 1950 Alaska statehood bill, civil rights, opposition to unfavorable and discriminatory legislation, fisheries management, subsistence, efforts to improve the quality of life for the Tlingit and Haida through legal efforts, and other. In regards to the land claims movement, this collection contains a very detailed record of Tlingit and Haida efforts to obtain land. The collection contains correspondence, depositions, legal papers, copies of proposed bills, resolutions, surveys, and documents that show the administrative position of ANB/ANS and CCTHITA in regards to land claims.

The collection documents the high level of interest and participation in the land claims and civil rights movements by tribal members and organizations, the growing sophistication and changing activities of various Tlingit and Haida individuals and organizations, and political, legal, and legislative tactics indicated or employed by the Tlingit and Haida Indians for three decades. It should be noted that a substantial amount of material documents the activities of ANB/ANS lawyers William L. Paul, Sr. and Jr., who had prior to Curry’s hire and did simultaneously represent the Tlingit and Haida during parts of this period. This collection contains the correspondence of ANB/ANS and CCTHITA leadership with individuals and organizations of all kinds, including federal officials, state elected officials (such as governors and legislators), and other. Lawyers Curry and Weissbrodt kept detailed files on their efforts and instructions from ANB/ANS and CCTHITA, which now serves to document this historical period for the Tlingit and Haida.

The collection has been arranged into three record groups or Series, largely in reflection of the firm employed for the Tlingit and Haida. These include; Series 1: The Curry Papers, Series 2: The Weissbrodt Papers, and Series 3: The Alaska Reference Materials.

Series 1: The Curry Papers are those created or generated by James E. Curry from 1945 to 1957 while employed by ANB and ANS. The Curry Papers are arranged largely by subject and alphabetical order. There are 13 boxes of Curry Papers.

Series 2: The Weissbrodt Papers are those created or generated by I. S. Weissbrodt and associates from 1957 into the 1970s while employed by ANB/ANS and the CCTHITA. These papers are arranged into four sub-groups: two relating to the administrative papers of CCTHITA; one relating to the land claims lawsuits; and the last relating to the lobbying effort that led to the enactment of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. The Weissbrodt Papers are arranged in subject files, in chronological order on the box level. However, there is considerable intermingling of material from different time periods and from the Curry files. There are 37 boxes of Weissbrodt Papers.

Series 3: The Alaska Reference Materials are primarily duplicates of the materials in the collection, and reference materials gathered by Weissbrodt and associates. They are informally arranged by type or subject. The Alaska Reference Materials are currently stored offsite, and it will require one to two days advance notice before these papers can be available for patrons to view. There are 20 boxes of reference materials. A list of these files is not provide in the online finding aid, but can be requested in hardcopy. [Note: some publications from this Series have been removed and cataloged in the main library catalog.]

Note: The materials in this collection have been microfilmed and are also available at the Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage and Historical Collections Division, Alaska State Library (ASL Call # 0043 MFMS).

Biographical Note

James E. Curry (1907-1972) was an attorney during the 1930s up to the 1950s active in the legal affairs of Alaskan Natives, particularly the Tlingit and Haida. He was born in Chicago, IL of Irish-American parents. He entered Loyola University as a scholarship student and received his law degree in 1930. After a short employment term in the legal division of an insurance company, he opened his own law office. At the same time he was secretary of the Chicago branch of the American Civil Liberties Union and an attorney for the Consumers’ Cooperatives. He married Alma M. Weinhofen, also of Chicago, and in the winter of 1936 came to Washington to accept employment in the Indian Service. His term as secretary was short, but his duties required him to travel widely. He gained first-hand knowledge of the problems of the Indian groups in many states. He also held government positions such as assistant chief legal advisor with the Consumers Council division of the Department of the Interior and counsel for the Reconstruction Administration in Puerto Rico. His Puerto Rican work consisted largely of representing public corporations that owned the various public utility systems there. After his return to the USA, his clients included the National Congress of American Indians and a large number of Indian tribes. His efforts on behalf of the Indian tribes resulted in a long-standing dispute with the government officials of the Interior Department and the eventual dwindling of his Indian business. From 1955 to the time of his death in 1972, he acted in an advisory and consultative capacity on the Indian claims cases he had carried for so many years.

Subject/Index Terms

Alaska Native Brotherhood--History.
Haida Indians--History.
Tlingit Indians--History.

Administrative Information

Repository: Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

Acquisition Source: I.S. Weissbrodt

Acquisition Method: The materials in the collection were donated to SHI by I. S. Weissbrodt on July 21, 1982. Accession # 1982.001.

Preferred Citation: Mss 26, Series #, Box #, Fd #, Curry-Weissbrodt Papers, Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives, Juneau, AK

Processing Information: Processed by: Glenda Choate in Jan. 1983.

Box and Folder Listing

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