Robert Summers Yellowtail Collection

Production of this inventory funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities

Donor Name
Robert Summers Yellowtail
P.O. Box 223, Lodge Grass, Montana 59050 (address of widow, Dorothy)
Accession Number
Processing Start
Magdalene Medicine Horse
Collection Title
Robert Summers Yellowtail Collection
Access/Restrictions On Use
None, open to public use.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
All publication rights are held by Little Big Horn College. Use for publication must be approved by archivist.
Preferred Citation of Materials
Robert S. Yellowtail Collection, Little Big Horn College Archives

Physical Description

Linear feet
1’ 10"
Comprehensive dates
1825 - 1986
Materials included
Two boxes of manuscript material, printed material, and photographs.
Organization of Materials
The collection consists of original manuscript materials (i.e. Robert Yellowtail speeches) and other items including pamphlets, calendars, maps, and photographs. The photographs are housed separately. There are three series with some subseries.
  1. Materials Related to and/or Concerning Robert Yellowtail (one box) - p. 4
  1. Crow/Indian Law and Rights (one box) - p. 13
  2. Miscellaneous (one folder) - p. 19

Biographical/Historical Note

Robert Summers Yellowtail was born on August 4, 1889, according to his own statements. However, some recently discovered church records indicate that he was born in 1887. His education began on the Crow reservation at the age of four. He later attended Sherman Institute in Riverside, California at the age of 13. He graduated in 1907.

For many years, he had wanted to help his people. He became interested in law and spent time at the Extension Law School in Los Angeles. His foremost interest was in Indian law and he became involved the rest of his life in politics on and off the Crow reservation, eventually becoming the premier Crow political leader of the twentieth century. He was one of the first generation of young educated Crows who, together with the last of the chiefs, fought the opening of the reservation to general homesteading. One of the most significant encounters was with Senator Thomas J. Walsh of Montana, who was attempting to open the Crow reservation to white settlement. Mr. Yellowtail played an important role in shaping the 1920 "Crow Act" and the (first) Crow tribal constitution of 1948.

From 1934 to 1945, he served as a superintendent of the Crow Indian reservation, one of the first two Native Americans to be appointed to that capacity of leadership in the country. The buffalo had disappeared from the Crow reservation by about 1883. In 1934, Yellowtail appealed for help from the Dude Ranchers Association to obtain the Secretary of the Interior’s approval to transfer 400 head of buffalo from Yellowstone National Park to the Crow reservation, along with some elk. The tribal herd is still in existence today.

His interest in tribal government continued to be important for Mr. Yellowtail and he was elected tribal council chairman in 1952. In the 1950s, he put much effort into opposing the construction of a dam on the Big Horn River. Ironically, when the federal government condemned the land and built the dam, it was named Yellowtail Dam.

In the 1960s, he settled into full time ranching, which he had been doing on a part time basis for many years. However, he continued to be involved in politics until nearly the end of his life. He also began to take part in Indian events and celebrations (such as dances and powwows) in which he had not much participated earlier in life. In the 1980s, he collaborated with Rattlesnake Productions of Missoula, Montana, in producing the 1986 documentary "Contrary Warriors: A Film of the Crow Tribe." The film dealt extensively with his life and includes many interviews with him. He passed away in July, 1988.


Robert S. Yellowtail collected written material on the Crow tribe for most of his life. This information concerns events from 1825 to 1986. Mr. Yellowtail collected his information as a result of his active participation and interest in politics. His strong belief in tribal self government led him to collect all kinds of information. His papers consist of both published and unpublished materials concerning the Crow and other tribes, including a number of his speeches.

His documents were housed in his ranch home at Red Rock Ranch near Lodge Grass, Montana, where most of them burned in a house fire in about 1961. The current collection seems largely comprised of materials dating from after the fire as well as duplicates of older papers. These were kept in his home just south of Lodge Grass. In 1986, he offered his small collection to his nephew Joe Medicine Crow, with the understanding that it would go to Little Big Horn College. Tim Bernardis worked with Joe to access the documents on May 1, 1986.

Scope and Content Note

The collection represents a political view of the Crow tribe from 1825 to 1986. A large portion of the collection consists of speeches that were given on behalf of the Crow tribe. Researchers must be aware that in many cases in the inventory, only a single title or item is listed per folder where in fact, that same folder may contain several additional speeches or items (or fragments) not listed in the inventory. These additional items have been listed on the front of the folder itself. At times, the additional items may not seem to relate or connect to the listed first item, but this is the way it was received from Mr. Yellowtail. In addition, any of his own self-generated materials (i.e. Robert Yellowtail speeches or notes) are denoted by an asterisk (*) in front of the folder title on the inventory. This serves to separate material he created from material he collected. The rest of the collection consists of autobiographical information, maps, calendars, photographs, newspaper clippings, personal letters, short stories, and material on Crow tribal history, Crow coal resources, tribal government, court cases, tribal rights, Indian rights and Indian law.

Series 1: Materials Related To and/or Concerning Robert Yellowtail

This series consists of materials related to and /or which concern Robert Yellowtail including items relating to him personally and items which he used in his speeches and writings. These include the following: family biography and origin; speeches he gave as a political leader for the Crow tribe; maps with time lines used to tell people of the origin of the tribe; bilingual calendars that give a brief history of the Crow people; newspaper clippings of his achievements; personal letters relating to his land realty; short stories that he picked up to spice up his speeches; material on the history of the Crow tribe and its origins; and information on the coal dealings with the Westmoreland company. Most important is a copy of his account of his battle of April 5, 1917 in Washington, D.C. with Senator Thomas J. Walsh of Montana who wanted to open Crow lands to homesteading.


  1. *Family Tree - Robert Yellowtail
  2. A Brief Biography of Robert Yellowtail
  1. *"The High School Graduate v. the Challenges of Life," May 19, 1974 commencement speech
  2. *Before the Interior Committee June 1954, Argument, Yellowtail Dam
  3. *"Eternal Viglence (sic) is the Price of Liberty; The Political Status of the American Indian," 6/21/1964
  4. *The Position of the Indians in the Current Raging Presidential Campaign
  5. *Choctaw Nation v. U.S.; "Indians and Their Civil Rights as are Guanteed (sic) by the Constitution"
  6. *"The Presidental (sic) Election Campaign"
  7. *Powersite Value Award of $2,000,000 for Yellowtail Dam
  8. Petition and Resolution Re: Yellowtail Dam
  9. *National Congress of American Indians, Sheridan, Wyoming, 1964
  10. *What is the Future of the Youth of this Country?
  11. *National Congress of American Indians
  12. *The Indians, Too, Are Governed by Law, 7/31/64
  13. *A Personal Statement (Refers to): A Hail and Farewell statement to the Crows, 10/30/76
  14. *The Statue of Liberty and Its Significance
  15. *The Position of the Indian Under the American Law, 1970
  16. *The American Government: Its Philosophy, Principles and Image
  17. *"Detente as Has Been Employed in Indian Affairs and Relations," 3/27/80
  18. *A Letter to Those Concerned and Interested
  19. *Indians and Their Civil Rights as Are Guanteed (sic) by the Constitution, 7/31/71
  20. *Human Freedom, Court Decisions, and the Legal Rights and Status of the Indian
  21. *Before the Interior Committee June 1954, 83rd Congress, Argument, Yellowtail Dam
  22. *A Timely Reminder to All Militant Indians to Go Slow, Examine the Law Before You Explode
  23. *Indian Nations and Tribes
  24. *The United States Constitution
  25. *Indian Exemption from Taxation
  26. *Commencement Address: St. Labre, 6/19/1974
  27. *The U.N. (United Nations) - How Did it Happen? Who Ordered Its Adoption?
  28. *The Indian and His Lands Have Been the Bane of the American Indians Since the First Day That the Whiteman Set Foot Upon the American Continent
  29. *Constitutional, Treaty, Tribal Sovereignty, Human and Treaty Rights of all Indian Tribes in the U.S.A.
  30. *The Indians - the Oppressed Minority
  31. *Taxation, Crow Indians
  32. *An Argument and Statement on Indian Affairs Administration ... How Administered
  33. *The Political Plight of the American Indian
  34. *Department of Indian Affairs, State of Montana, Bulletin, June 1964, Custer Battle Re-enacted
  35. *Know the Law Before You Talk, 11/17/78
  36. *The Legal Plight of the Indians - The Shoshone Decision, 11/21/57
  37. Costs of Government, Federal, Tribal and Other Items To Use in Speeches
  38. Shakespear (sic)
  39. *Poverty and Illiteracy Has Been the Bane of the American Indians
  40. *The Indians and Their Present Day Problems, 8/7/1972
  41. *The Case of the Indians: Indian Affairs Administration Over the Years and the Succession of the Many Indian Policies Since the Foundation of Government
  42. *The Trail of Broken Treaties, the Raid Upon the Bureau of Indian Affairs by Militant Indians
  43. *Argument: National, Treaty, Tribal Sovereignty, Human, and Treaty Rights ...
  44. *The Position of the Indians in the Current Raging Presidential Campaign
  45. *Secretary Norten’s Reply to the Cheyennes’ Demands That He Cancel Their Coal Leases
  46. *Why an Education, 12/18/1978
  47. *The Urgent Need for Higher Indian Education, 12/11/80
  48. *The Political Plight of the American Indian
  49. *Vindictive Action by Various Tribes is Fast Pushing the End of the Indian Bureau
  50. *Indian Affairs Administration - How Administered
  51. *The Crow Tribal Government, a Miserable Failure
  52. *The Treatment of American Indian Tribes Since the First European Settlements on the Atlantic Coast in 1607 - 1620 and on Until the Present Time
  53. *The Election Campaign, Politics, the Issues, the Principal Characters
  54. *Native American Church of North America
  55. *The 1980 Presidential Election and the Future Indian Affairs Administration
  56. *Editorial and Factual Statements Concern ing Indians
  57. *Remarks and Discourse on the Phrase "In a Contingency" as Used in the Lone Wolf Decision
  58. *Open Letter To All Indians, Published Nationwide, AP, the Indians, Too, Are Governed by Law
  59. *Keynote Address: National Congress of American Indians Convention, 9/18/1961
  60. *Facts That All Indians Should Know
  61. *The Salvation of the Indians
  62. *Facts of the Energy Problem Worldwide and of the U.S.
  63. *The Political Status of the American Indians, 6/21/1964
  64. *The Lot of the Indians
  65. *Rambling Comments on Indian Rights Under American Law
  66. *Robert Yellowtail Address, 8/20/1982
  67. *The Constitutional Freedoms, the Tribal Sovereignty and Racial Self-Respect of the American Indians
  68. *Indians Under American Law, Tribal Sovereignty, Indian Tribes as Governments, and Other Related Subjects
  69. *Vindictive Actions by Various Tribes is Fast Pushing the End of the Bureau Which Could Be, and Might Be, Abolished
  70. *Rights in Indian Law
  71. *Radio KWYO Monday Night 7 p.m. 1/16/1956, Governmental Interference in Crow Tribal Council Deliberations
  72. *Address at Custer Battlefield During the Visit of the Imperial Potentate and Party on Friday, October 30, 1931
  73. *Inaugural Speech of Robert Yellowtail Upon His Appointment as Superintendent of Crow Indian Reservation, Crow Agency, Montana, August, 1934
  74. *Address by Superintendent Yellowtail at the Crow Fair, August 31, 1938, Subject : "The Case of the Indians"
  75. *"Truism": And Jesus Knew Their Thoughts, and Said Unto Them, Every Home Divided Against Itself is Brought to Desolation and Every House Divided Against Itself Shall Not Stand, Matthew 12:25
  76. *The Case of the Indians
  77. *A Review of Indian Affairs Administration From, and Before the Creation of the American Government, by the Declaration of Independence
  1. Map - Nominated Areas for Coal Leasing, Montana
  2. Map - Montana, Crow Indian Reservation Range Unit Map, 12/1/1955-11/30/1960
  3. An Illustrated Chart Showing 5,000 Years of the History of Mankind
  4. Crow Calendars
  5. Photograph of letter of Ronald Reagan to Robert Yellowtail, 5/31/1983
  6. Negative of photograph of Robert Yellowtail
  7. Photograph of Johnny Arlee
  8. Shell Oil Company land map - Surface Owner ship, Crow Coal Lease, Big Horn County, Montana, 5/1974
  9. Coal Fields of the United States by James Trumbull, 1960
  10. Photographs
  11. Obituaries
  12. Newspaper Articles including some on Robert Yellowtail
  13. Maps
  14. *One of the First New Indian Battles, by Robert Yellowtail (about his debate with Senator Walsh)
  15. Scenic Trails, 1937; Montana, the Magazine of Western History, 1970
  16. Photographs
  1. *Northern Cheyenne Reservation, Council of Forty Four Chiefs
  2. Statement of claim for existing water rights irrigation
  3. Rattlesnake Productions, Inc.
  4. Nominated for a honorary degree
  5. Small Business Administration loan authorization
  6. *Billings Livestock Commission Company
  7. National Advisory Council on Indian Education, Mr. Robert Shenton, 9/24/1980
  8. Memorandum on decision of the Montana Supreme Court on Mortgage foreclosure, 8/20/71
  9. Letter to director of Internal Revenue Service, Helena, Montana, 6/5/1961
  10. Letter from law offices of Houston Bus Hill, 10/16/59
  11. Letter from Honorable Roger Ernst, Assistant Secretary of the Interior, 5/10/60
  12. Correspondence of Bert W. Kronmiller Law Offices, tax on Indian landowners
  13. Correspondence from U.S. Treasury Department
  14. Federal Land Bank Association of Billings - reamortization agreement
  15. Crow Tribal Council - correspondence regarding emergency feed loan
  1. Short Stories
  2. United States Politics, It’s a White Man’s Game
  3. Short Stories
  4. Details of the Custer Battle as Related by Chief Brave Bear, Oct. 1910
  1. Think and Ponder in Amazement
  2. The Course of Recorded World History
  3. Little Big Horn River Basin
  4. *American History and the Fundamental Rights of the Indians
  5. *Fourth of July
  6. Indian Affairs
  7. This Old World of Ours, and the Course of Its Recorded History
  8. *The Indians Under American Government Control Since Jamestown, 1607
  9. *A Brief Review of the History of the Crow Reservation and the Crows, 1889 - 1973
  10. The Indian Bureau, a Sacred Trust
  11. To the Crows, Cheyennes, and Bureau of Indian Affairs, Jointly
  1. Tribal goals - Crow coal resources
  2. Crow coal
  3. Phase I, II, Acquisition and Funding for Frontier Trust Company using Tract II on Crow Reservation as Security for Loan and Capitalization
  4. Resolution for leasing, mining and sale of Crow coal
  5. National and Crow politics explained and defined
  6. Strip Mining article
  7. Crow Coal
  8. Crow Coal vs. World Wide Coal deposits
  9. A resolution regarding: more new coal leases and argument justifying same
  10. A resolution concerning mining and extracting and sale of Crow tribal coal
  11. An Act to regulate the leasing of Certain Indian lands for Mining Purposes
  12. X-Pending lease - Peabody
  13. United States Department of the Interior, Assistant Secretary’s letter to Forrest Horn, Chairman, and Kirk Blakard, Shell Oil Company
  14. Ben Lusk, Inc., International Coal Consultants
  15. More coal mines, Crow reservation, resolution
  16. The leasing, mining and sale of Crow tribal coal and related questions

Series 2: Crow/Indian Law and Rights

This series consists of information concerning the Crow tribe and Indians in general, including the following: the rights and laws that were violated by others (such as the state of Montana) and the decisions made by various courts concerning tribal matters.

The two most important aspects of this series are the Crow tribe of Indians v. the state of Montana over coal severance taxes paid to the state of Montana which were eventually held invalid and treaties (with related materials) made between the Crow tribe and the United States.


  1. *Indian tribal sovereignty
  2. The Indians and Their Basic Human Rights
  3. *Self Determination, Termination
  4. *Montana Indians under Montana politics and Congressional Elections
  5. *The American political system controls the Lives and Future of Everyone
  6. Plan of Operation for the Commission for Crow Constitutional Review
  7. Appropriations for the Indian Service, treasury, and tribal, fiscal years 1903 to 1948, both inclusive
  8. *Facts of Government to Ponder
  9. *The Crow Judgement money
  10. *Indian tribes were distinct
  11. *United States Court of Appeals
  12. Court Cases, Crow Lands
  13. *Resolution regarding appointment of a superintendent at Crow Agency
  14. The Indian and the Constitution
  15. Court Case: Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock
  16. Resolution concerning mining and extracting Crow tribal coal
  17. *The Indians under our government
  18. In the House of Representatives, a bill (minerals taxation)
  19. Property rights
  20. John Cummins court decision
  21. U.S. v. Lille Lac Band of Chippewa Indians
  22. The General Allotment Act
  23. U.S. Court of Appeals, Crow Tribe v. State of Montana, 8/1/1980
  24. Codes of the Crow Tribe
  25. Laws and treaties with the Crows beginning with August 4, 1825
  26. Differences between a republic and a democracy
  27. The political plight of the American Indian
  28. Tribal right versus state right in navigable waters
  29. Candidates for Crow Tribal Chairman Should Have Following Qualifications
  30. List of board of directors for Crow Development Corporation
  31. Petition on Raven Oil
  32. Credit Committee and Land Resources Committee Election
  33. Crow Tribal Council, Crow Tribal Law and Order Commission
  34. Resolutions
  35. Chart of Bureau of Indian Affairs services
  36. Soil Conservationist - fish kill, 1979
  37. The Reemergence of Tribal Nationalism
  38. Fredericks and Pelcyger/ Crow Tribe
  39. Competent native leadership
  40. Amendments to 1920 Crow tribal allotment act
  41. Government documents
  42. 73-1018, opinion - U.S. v. Mazurie
  43. U.S. Department of the Interior analysis, rights of Crows on Bighorn River
  44. 98th Congress, 2nd session, report, Indian Land Consolidation Act
  45. Crow Tribe v. State of Montana
  46. Supreme Court of the United States, Colorado River Water Conservation District v. U.S.
  47. Ash Sheep Company v. United States
  48. House Concurrent Resolution 108, 83rd Congress, on termination
  49. Decision in the case of Lone Wolf
  50. Freeman’s brief - foreclosure suit
  51. National Farmer’s Union Insurance Companies vs. Crow Tribe of Indians (Sage case)
  52. *Remarks of Associate Justice at Indian Law Seminar
  53. *U.S. v. James Junior Finch
  54. The Indian v. the Whiteman
  55. Laws of Congress for, and against, the Indians
  56. Crow Tribe v. U.S. of America
  57. U.S. of America v. Tongue River Water Users Association, 10/1/63
  58. United States v. Deernose
  59. Donald Stewart, Jr. vs. District Court of the 13th District
  60. Brief of appellants, Joy Yellowtail
  61. Indian plank, Republican platform
  62. *In the Congress of the United States, Crow Tribe vs. Bureau of Reclamation (Yellowtail Dam)
  63. Correspondence of Chairman Yellowtail, interests in dam
  64. Yellowtail Dam
  65. *Tribal rights v. state rights in navigable waters
  66. Definitions and meaning of (economic terms)
  67. Congressional Record, Senate, on the Supreme Law of the Land
  68. Before the House Investigating Committee, Sheridan, Wyoming
  69. Facts of government to ponder
  70. Oklahoma Tax Commission vs. Texas Company
  71. Notice of Sale Number 85-1, Special Advertisement for Farming and Grazing Leases Restricted to Members of Crow Tribe Only
  72. Part I, Section 61 - Gross Income Defined
  73. Indian standing timber tax matters: Squire v. Capoeman
  74. *Water rights (conclusion)
  75. Amendment of section 6, Crow allotment act
  76. Favorable decisions favoring the Indians by the Supreme Court
  77. Testimony of Robert Yellowtail before the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. Sen ate, 1947
  78. *A Proposed Indian Plank to be Included in the Platforms of Both Political Parties
  79. *Factual Statements and Culturage Traditions of the Indians
  80. *Talton vs. Mayes
  81. The Indians vs. the Whiteman
  82. Detente as Has Been Employed in Indian Affairs Relations
  83. Memorandum notes
  84. The Indian Under American Law, 1980
  85. Squire v. Capoeman
  86. Eminent domain
  87. A Challenge to Governor Judge to debate the rights of the Indians
  88. Presidents of the U.S. and their Relations to Indians Affairs Administration
  89. An Argument and Statement on Indian Affairs Administration
  90. A Discourse on the Indian’s Position in the Nation’s Economic Future
  91. Court decisions favorable to Indians
  92. The Political Status of the American Indians
  93. *Remarks of Richard S. McDermott at the Indian Law Seminar
  94. Important Laws to Always Remember
  95. What the Secretary Ought to Hear
  96. The Legal Status of Indian Tribes and Their Political Protection
  97. A General Retrospect and Review of Indian Affairs Administration in Detail
  98. *The Indian vs. the White Man
  99. *The Indians Under American Law and, Why Should the Indians Celebrate the Fourth of July?
  100. *The Political Plight of the American Indian
  101. *The Indians-the Oppressed Minority
  102. Challenge to Governor Judge
  103. *Letter from Indian agent’s office, Cardston, Alberta, Canada, 11/20/1934

Series 3: Miscellaneous

This series consists of various and odd items that do not clearly fit into any regular series or subseries. They are made up of items such as fragments of speeches and the last page of a legal decision.

Subject Entries

Significant Personal/Corporate Name Entries