Letter from Herb Blatchford to Mel Thom

Seven Generations 2020

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Letter from Herb Blatchford to Mel Thom
June 28, 1961
ink on paper
11 x 8 ½ in.
National Indian Youth Council Records (MSS 703 BC, box 3, folder 27), Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico

Held June 13-20, 1961, the American Indian Chicago Conference (AICC) served as an incubator for the founding of the National Indian Youth Council (NIYC). The conference brought together Native activists and young people to discuss issues facing Indigenous Americans at the time.

Over the course of the week, the young people clashed with the more established conference attendees over the speed of change on various issues. In response, the young conference-goers formed a caucus and wrote their own thoughts on a Declaration of Indian Purpose.

A handful of AICC attendees hoped to continue the momentum they had developed there and form a national Native-led youth organization. In this letter from Herb Blatchford to Mel Thom, Blatchford recommends Gallup, New Mexico, as an ideal place for its first meeting, during the annual Inter-tribal Indian Ceremonial. The first meeting of what would become the National Indian Youth Council took place in Gallup on August 10, 1961.