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Curry, James E. (1907-1972) | Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

Name: Curry, James E. (1907-1972)

Historical 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.

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