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American Indian College: Archive: American Indian College: A Witness to the Tribes

This archive is managed by staff at Dorothy Cummings Library at SAGU American Indian College. This archive is a work in progress. Check back regularly for more content!

About the Book

The content of American Indian College: A Witness to the Tribes falls into three major categories: three previously-published histories of the school, short essays by people associated with the school and an overview of the school’s history, mission, and aims, written by the editors.

The three histories, reprinted with introductions in this volume, are: Trail to the Tribes by Alta M. Washburn -- A Trail of Beauty: A Short History of American Indian Bible College by Pauline Dunn -- Indian Harvest: A History of American Indian Bible College by Carolyn D. Baker.

The essays, or reflections, were written by: board members (T. Ray Rachels, Rodger A. Cree, Sr., Curtis W. Ringness, and Marvin Begay); presidents (Don Ramsey, Simon Peter, Carl E. and Alice Collins, David J. Moore, Jim H. Lopez, and James V. Comer); faculty (Alma F. Thomas, Eugene Hunter, Betty J. Hanna, Belinda F. Lopez, Nancy J. Saggio, and Everett F. Peralta); staff (M. Nadine Waldrop, Sandra K. Ticeahkie, Sandra M. Gonzales, Donald P. Merino); and alumni (Lillie Ward Neal, Jimmy Yellowhair, Vince Roubideaux, James J. Bollinger, Marco J. Burnette, and Jameson D. Lopez).

Appendices include a historical timeline, lists of members of the Board of Regents, administration and faculty, staff, and graduates. The book also includes name and photo indexes. 

The Editors

Dr. Joseph J. Saggio

Dr. Saggio has been involved in ministry, writing, and higher education for nearly forty years having taught at six different institutions as well as served for ten years as a youth pastor and lead pastor. He served as the Executive Vice President for the SAGU AIC Campus and Administrative Dean of the College. An educator with a pastor’s heart, Dr. Saggio cares passionately for students’ academic and spiritual development and believes that the two should work together. He and his wife Nancy have a great love for Native people and have grown to appreciate their tribal contributions and value systems that greatly honor experience, balance, wisdom, and practical knowledge.

He holds a B.A. in Speech Communication from California State University, Fresno; an Religion (Contemporary Ministries) from Azusa Pacific University, another M.A. in Religion (Biblical Studies) from Vanguard University of Southern California, and an Ed.D. from Arizona State University in Higher and Adult Education. He also did summer post-doctoral studies at Harvard University in higher educational leadership.

Dr. Saggio loves a great cup of strong coffee, enjoys long walks in quiet settings, reading, and is an avid fan of NCIS, The Big Bang Theory, Hawaii Five O, historical documentaries, and travel. He has been to more than thirty five countries on five continents including Belgium, Ireland, Brazil, Paraguay, France, India, Cuba, Norway and Iceland. Dr. Saggio is passionately committed to equipping Native Americans and others for a life of Christian service in order to fulfill their destiny.

Rev. Jim Dempsey

Rev. Jim Dempsey served in many capacities at AIC including as Resident Director, Dean of Students, Director of Institutional Research, and as a professor teaching in the area of Missions and Bible. Known for his dry, Southern sense of humor that carefully revealed a great deal of wisdom, Jim was always a favorite instructor to our students.

In addition to his work at AIC, Jim served as pastor, musician, teacher, and author. Linda and Jim served as Assemblies of God US missionaries to Native Americans they ministered in music and biblical teaching leadership development at Native American churches, and camp meetings across Native America. 

Jim Dempsey went to be with the Lord in 2022. He is pictured here with his wife, Linda. 


One of the most understudied and underappreciated aspects of American Pentecostal history is the story of Pentecostal belief and practice among American Indians and Alaska Natives. This work, which focuses on the half-century-long history of the American Indian College of the Assemblies of God, helps fill that need in valuable ways. Composed of accounts of the school's origins and life by both Caucasian and Indian participants, the volume offers a gold mine of data that students of Pentecostal, gender, missionary, and American Indian history will find useful. The documents, presented through the perspective of insiders of the movement, offer a vibrant sense of the power of Pentecostal faith to enrich its members' lives. - Grant Wacker, Professor of Church History, Duke University

American Indian College: A Witness to the Tribes captures the "stories behind the stories" of America's first and only regionally accredited Bible college for Native Americans through the voices of those who have lived the history. - John E. Maracle, Chief/President, Native American Fellowship of the Assemblies of God

The Native voice has largely been silent in the Christian world. Yet it is a voice that needs to be heard! American Indian College: A Witness to the Tribes is a must-read for all who are willing to hear that voice. - Rev. Alvin "Dobie" Weasel, Assemblies of God Pastor/Evangelist

This collection of historical accounts, interpretive essays, and personal narratives will evoke memories for those who lived the history, and it will become an essential resource for students and scholars who wish to better understand the history and future of Native American higher education and Pentecostalism. - Darrin J. Rodgers, Director of Flowers Pentecostal Heritage Center

See It in Person

Dorothy Cummings Library at SAGU American Indian College

Nelson Memorial Library at Southwestern Assemblies of God University

Libraries Across the Country

WorldCat lists the libraries around the world that have a particular book. Visit and search for American Indian College: A Witness to the Tribes to find the book in a library near you. 



Full Book

Table of Contents by Part

Table of Contents by Individual Section

Want to Volunteer?

Dorothy Cummings Library is seeking volunteers!

Are you an alumni, former employee, or friend of the school? Do you have an intimate knowledge of All Tribes Bible School, American Indian Bible Institute, American Indian Bible College, or American Indian College? Do you have a desire to share your knowledge of the school with others? Apply to be an archive volunteer!

Apply here: Library Archive Volunteer Application

About Volunteering:

Due to the high volume of material, the archive will likely take a few years to complete. However, with your help, we can get through the content faster and with more accuracy. Here are the kinds of things we need help with:

  • Gathering archive material (documents, photos, etc.) from outside sources (alumni, former employees, etc.)
  • Identifying people in photos
  • Identifying the time period a photo was taken
  • Identifying the place a photo was taken
  • Placing photos into appropriate photo albums on Flickr
  • Typing up cursive pieces handwritten by our founder, Alta Washburn
  • Donating money that will help fund the digital archive site and materials to physically preserve the items

Please note that the library is usually closed between the 3rd week of May until the 3rd week of August each year. Library staff prefer volunteers to be on-site for initial training, but volunteer work can take place year-round if done virtually.  If you don't live in the Phoenix area or only have summer availability, you can still apply. We welcome anyone with the knowledge, time, and talent to help us out!