Carroll Arnett Collection, 1927-2000, and undated
Using These Materials
- Carroll Arnett Collection is open for research.
- Arnett, Carroll.
- This collection, 1927-2000, and updated, contain biographical materials, books, poems, letters, photographs, cassette tapes, poetry serials and monographs, some of which are from or focus on Indigenous poets and poetry, indigenous newspapers in which he published his poetry, indigenous reading materials, and a few objects.
- 4.5 cubic feet (in 9 boxes, 2 Oversized folders)
- Collection processed and finding aid created by M. Watts, M. Matyn
- Scope and Content:
This collection, 1927-2000, and updated, contain biographical materials, books, poems, letters, photographs, cassette tapes, poetry serials and monographs, some of which are from or focus on Indigenous poets and poetry, indigenous newspapers in which he published his poetry, indigenous reading materials, and a few objects. The collection is organized by size, series, and then alphabetically and chronologically. Overall the collection is in very good physical condition, except for the newspapers which are acidic. All the boxes are .5 cubic foot letter size, except for Box 4 which is a .25 cubic foot letter-size box and Box 5 which is a .25 cubic foot legal-size box.
The majority of Boxes 1-5 consists of letters from Carroll Arnett to various people. Three folders contain letters to other poets including J.D. Whitney (1940-), Linda Hogan (1947-) who in 2023 was the Chickasaw Nation’s Writer in Residence, and Peter Blue Cloud or Aroniawenrate (1933-2011), of the Turtle Clan of Mohawk Nation. There are folders with letters from Arnett’s time at Knox College and Central Michigan University (CMU), which includes his request for a sabbatical and promotion. There is also a substantial number of letters between Arnett and his main publisher, (The) Elizabeth Press. There are folders with poems and publications written by Arnett including: La Dene, Someone in Another Place, and Thematic Structure in Keats’s Endymion. There are three folders of notes written by Arnett about the American Indian Movement (AIM), the Michigan Civil Rights Commission Report, and Wounded Knee. There are photographs of Arnett. There is a folder of documents and notes while Arnett was on the CMU President’s Advisory Committee that investigated the “Chippewas” as the University Symbol. There are two folders of Arnett’s association with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to advance right to work laws in the U.S. Arnett brought a court case against CMU and the Michigan Education Association, which is documented in the collection. There is also a folder containing a racist letter that was sent to Arnett while he was teaching at CMU that contains cruel racist language.
Box 4 contains folders that are not entirely related to Arnett but are Indigenous reading materials that Arnett collected. There are two folders with educational materials on the Cherokee language. There is a folder of materials from AIM. There are also materials from Dennis Banks who visited CMU in 1973, including a photograph.
Box 5 is legal-size (.25 cubic foot) box containing three folders with objects including: an AIM pin, AIM bumper stickers, and Arnett’s glasses and case.
Boxes 6-9 consists mainly of publications in which he published his poetry, including serials as well as a few journals or books he edited or which were dedicated or inscribed to him, and poetry and indigenous newspapers. Indigenous reading materials, poetry in serials or monographs, are also included. Most of these materials are in English, but some are in Cherokee and Dutch. Issues of indigenous-generated or focused newspapers and general poetry newspapers, all but one of which contains one or more poems by Arnett, complete the collection. The newspapers are mainly in English but also include poetry and other information in Mohawk, Shawnee, and Cherokee.
During processing 5.5 feet of materials were withdrawn, including duplicates, miscellaneous letters, blanks, reading materials, out-of-scope material, and duplicate and/or miscellaneous publications.
Numerous books and periodical titles donated with the collection were separately cataloged, both examples of Arnett’s writing and editing, and materials written by other indigenous writers. The Clarke also has publications by Arnett that preceded the donation of this collection. Titles in boxes 6-9 were originally going to be separately cataloged, but due to resources it was eventually decided to add them to this collection.
Carroll Arnett’s suitcase, a powder horn, and an Oklahoma state flag were transferred to the CMU Museum of Cultural and Natural History.
- Biographical / Historical:
Carroll Arnett was born in Oklahoma City in 1927. He was the grandson of Tennessee Ellen Belew (Ballou), a Cherokee woman from North Carolina. In 1945 Arnett attended Oklahoma University for one semester, then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and served in 1946-47. After his military service ended, Arnett attended Oklahoma City University in 1947, then transferred to Beloit College, where he earned his B.A. magna cum laude in 1951. In the spring of 1952 Arnett returned to Oklahoma University for graduate studies, then transferred to the University of Texas, where he received his M.A. He taught at Knox College, Stephens College, and Nasson College before he was hired in 1970 to help build a graduate writing program at Central Michigan University (CMU), where he taught until his death in 1997. Arnett wrote under both his birth name and his Cherokee name, Gogisgi (Smoke), or a combination of both names. His Cherokee name was given to him by his grandmother, Tennie, in a dream. He served his tribe as a Deer Clan Chief of the Overhill Band of the Cherokee Nation, and the greater Indigenous community through his activism and the Indigenous writing community through his mentorship of early-career writers. Arnett received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Creative Writing in 1974 and published fourteen books of poetry. (This information is from Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Literature by Alan Velie and Jennifer McClinton-Temple.)
When Arnett started teaching in CMU, he moved to Mecosta, Michigan, in 1970. While there he provided input to the use of the word “Chippewa” and CMU “Chippewa” symbol. He also helped CMU develop a minor in Native American (Indigenous) Studies.
Arnett first married Edith Evans in 1947 and they had at least two children together. They divorced in 1957. Arnett later married Claudia and they remained together for the rest of their lives. Arnett passed away on July 2, 1997 at age 69. (This information is from the collection.)
- Acquisition Information:
- Acc# 77244
The collection is organized by size, series, and then alphabetically and chronologically.
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
Indigenous peoples of North America--Poetry.
Indians as mascots.
American poetry--20th century.
Sports team mascots.
American literature--20th century--Periodicals.
American poetry--20th century--Periodicals.
Civil rights movement.
Indigenous peoples of North America--Newspapers.
United States. Marine Corps.
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
Michigan Education Association.
Michigan Civil Rights Commission.
American Indian Movement-- History.
Central Michigan University--Faculty.
Central Michigan University--History.
Knox College (Galesburg, Ill.)--Faculty
Arnett, Carroll, 1927-1997
Whitney, J.D. (John Denison), 1940-
Blue Cloud, Peter.
Wounded Knee (S.D.)—History--Indian occupation, 1973.
Mount Pleasant (Mich.)--History.
United States--Race relations.
United States--Politics and government.
Using These Materials
Carroll Arnett Collection is open for research.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Published writing by multiple authors are copyrighted.
- PREFERRED CITATION:
Carroll Arnett Collection, Folder # , Box #, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University