Mission Indian Federation members at a meeting in Riverside, 1930.
Photo courtesy of Riverside Metropolitan Museum


The Mission Indian Federation

Many people are surprised to learn that American Indians were not allowed to be citizens of the United States until 1924. Indians were denied many other rights. Indians from throughout the Southwest tried to end their plight by joining the Mission Indian Federation. The group aimed, as one 1922 resolution stated, “to secure by legislation the rights and benefits belonging to the Indian — to protect him in such rights — against all unjust laws, rules, and regulations that have been made against his interests.”

The Federation’s push for basic human rights gained prominence starting in the 1920s under the leadership of Adam Castillo of Soboba Reservation near San Jacinto, California. “The Federation confronted the issues of acquiring U.S. citizenship, tribal sovereignty, and the education of its youth as it fought to secure rights under the treaties of 1851-52,” according to Ernie C. Salgado Jr., executive director of Ahmium Education, Inc., of San Jacinto.

Ahmium Education, Inc., organized a full-day session in 2004 that focused on the Federation, as part of the 28th Annual California Conference on American Indian Education. Ushkana Press explores the start of the Federation in a booklet, Standing Firm: The Mission Indian Federation fight for basic human rights, by Deborah Dozier, with contributions by Pauline Murillo, Ernest H. Siva, Richard A. Hanks, and Pat Murkland. Contact