Library Resources Provide Information on Indigenous Peoples of North America

New! The Library offers American Indian Histories and Cultures and Indigenous Peoples of North America — complementary resources providing information on how, for five centuries, Native Americans have continued to define themselves in the face of colonization and genocide.

Tiered, square buildings and access ladders of an adobe village in full sun with mountains in the background.

Taos Pueblo, New Mexico

American Indian Histories and Cultures is comprised of material selected from the Newberry Library’s Edward E. Ayer Collection: a vast archive of more than a million manuscript pages, 130,000 volumes, 2,000 maps, 500 atlases, 11,000 photographs, and 3,500 drawings and paintings.

Portrait of a young woman seated, with braided hair and wearing a checked print dress with a striped blanket shawl over her shoulders.

Annie “Walk Aslant,” Cheyenne

Material selected from the archive covers a variety of cultural perspectives across space and time — from Mexico to Canada, from the 16th to the 20th century —  and includes diaries, travel journals and ledger books from early European expeditions, rare printed books, paintings of Indian life and people by European and Native artists, photographs, ethnographic accounts, and American Indian journalism from the 1960s through the 1990s.

In addition to primary sources, there are thumbnail biographies of historical figures, chronologies and overviews of historical events, essays, and lists of Indian nations identified geographically and by cultural group, giving context to Native interactions with Europeans up to the Red Power Movement and the occupation of Alcatraz.

Indigenous Peoples of North America is sourced from a multitude of American and Canadian institutions as well as directly from tribal newspapers and Native organizations.

A husband and wife in traditional Native dress stand for their portrait. The man holds a feathered ceremonial rattle, and the woman her infant child.

Kiowa family

Topics encompass languages and linguistics (including dictionaries, bibles, and primers), trade and communication, Arctic peoples, the Iroquois Confederation, Catholic Indian missions, Indian removal and the “Trail of Tears,” wars and the frontier army, Indian delegations and government relations, missionary and government schools and curricula, the Dawes Act and allotment system, dances and festivals, Alaskan Indian policies, assimilation and the “Indian New Deal,” relocation, termination, and the Indian Claims Commission, water and fishing rights, civil rights, radicalism, poverty, and the American Indian movement.

The manuscripts, monographs, newspapers, photographs, and motion pictures offered through these resources will enhance understanding of who Native peoples were before colonization, and how their lives were dramatically affected by intersection with European cultures.

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