History of the Development of the Native American Indian General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous





In 1989 an “Ad Hoc” committee was formed by Area 8 of Alcoholics Anonymous (Imperial Valley/San Diego, CA,) to see how effectively the AA message was being carried to Native Americans.


The committee’s suggestion was to establish meetings on the reservations in San Diego County, solicit support from urban groups to keep them going, and report back the results with recommendations. The committee had roving potluck meetings each month, meeting at different locations through out the area, and having a different host reservation each month. When an Indian with an interest in starting an A.A. meeting on the reservation was found, his tribal counsel was approached and A.A. traditions were explained (such as being self supportive), along with what A.A. does not do. A tribal location and date to start the meeting would be agreed upon. All participants dedicated themselves to supporting the new meeting, making sure someone was always there to open the door. This level of experience did not come about overnight, but over a period of years. It has been shown in the San Diego area that this way of encouraging the message to come from within does work. The San Diego ad hoc committee approach is extremely effective as long as they are carrying the message of A.A.


By March 1993 AA meetings had been established on twelve of eighteen reservations around San Diego County. In keeping with AA’s tradition of autonomy, these meetings were encouraged to incorporate Native American customs and culture into their formats.  About ten of the original twelve meetings still flourish today!


The committee also concluded that in order to effectively carry the message to the still-suffering Native American alcoholic, a service structure built around the traditional beliefs, practices and customs was needed. With this conclusion made the “Ad Hoc” committee formally terminated but the majority of the members continued in their effort to serve. After meeting with the Pacific Coast Regional trustee and the General Manager of the General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous the majority of the members formed the Native American General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous and an application was filed for representation at AA’s World Service Meeting.


In 1990 Earl L., a Paiute Indian had a vision. Earl saw in his vision Indian Nations coming together in unity, celebrating sobriety and embracing their culture. He saw the helping hand of AA as being attractive within Indian Country. Earl’s vision saw our traditional ways as adding to the warmth and unconditional love of AA’s principals. Following this vision Earl was instrumental in establishing the first-ever National/ International Native American AA committee/convention. Earl made numerous trips to the San Diego area and worked with the “Ad Hoc” Committee to foster and promote Native American AA meetings on the local reservations. After the “Ad Hoc” Committee disbanded Earl continued to encourage and support the remaining members to move forward and implement the committee’s recommendations. In 1999, on the day Earl passed into the spirit world, he signed a letter to the Native Nations honoring their sovereignty and requesting their consensus for the NAIGSO-AA to interact with their people. Now Earl joins us in Council and the vision rests on our shoulders.

Because of Earl's involvement in NAIGSO-AA, the National/International Native American AA convention committee,the committee he originally formed, removed him the committee. But Earl continued to follow all parts his vision, including theNational/International Native American AA Convention . Earl and the others worked long and hard to create NAIGSO-AA, to seek recognition by, and to be included in the AA World Service Structure. After decades of fruitless struggle and misunderstanding it was decided to follow the wisdom of Chief Joseph, "I am sick and I am tired and will fight no more." Thus, NAIGSO-AA became strictly an AA service-oriented organization seeking only to provide AA service to all alcoholics, especially Native Americans. NAIGSO-AA's only purpose is to extend the helping hand of AA into the reach of all alcoholics and to keep the doors of AA unlocked.


In 2011, NAIGSO-AA began to print and distribute the "Daily Readings From the AA Lodge" manuscript. The manuscript contains 365 daily meditations each one comprised of a Native American elder's quote coupled directly to quotes from AA General Service Conference approved literature and the AA Grapevine, such as, the AA Big Book, AA Comes of Age, As Bill Sees It, and Language of the Heart. NAIGSO believes this manuscript fosters an understanding that AA is not "just a whitemans' program" by binding AA principals to Native American traditions, beliefs, and tribal customs. The manuscript is provided to anyone who requests a copy, free-of-charge. The burden of expense for this service is funded by the generous contributions of NAIGSO-AA supporters from all over the world and it has become the primary use of contributions sent to us.

NAIGSO-AA is a non-profit corporation registered in the State of Alabama and maintains a tax-exempt charitable status according to the tax codes of the Internal Revenue Service of the United States. NAIGSO-AA is in current compilance with all requirements to maintain its charitable, tax-exempt status in the state of Alabama and with the IRS. NAIGSO-AA is one of few non-profit, tax-exempt organizations who can claim 100% use of its contributions to fulfill its charitable purposes.

As stated in NAIGSO-AA's Statement of Purpose, "NAIGSO-AA continues to grow and evolve to meet the needs of those it serves." Today, the Native American General Service Office continues to carry the AA recovery message to all Indian Nations and all peoples interested in AA's principals of recovery from alcoholism and the inclusion Native American spiritual beliefs in that way of life. Our Home Fires registry includes over 100 Native American AA groups and 450 loners/associates. There are Native American AA conventions held in all four corners of Indian Country and recovery from alcoholism is coming into reach of all Native peoples wherever they live.



Revised January 2018