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Native American Studies Research Guide: Primary Sources

Primary Sources

Primary sources are documents that were recorded or written down at the time an event occurred. Primary sources can include diaries, letters, speeches, photographs, newspaper articles, government documents, and much more. For more information, see What are Primary Sources

To find primary sources held at the MSU Libraries, perform a keyword search in the library catalog with the terms s:Indians and s:North America and one of the following subject keyword(s)  s:archives; s:archival resources; cs:orrespondence; s:diaries; s:manuscripts; s:notebooks, sketchbooks, etc.; s:personal narratives; s:personnel records; s:records and correspondence; and s:sources.   The last option -- s:sources will probably be the most productive. 

Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University Native American Material in the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections : An important but often overlooked Native American resource. Produced from materials presented at the annual meetings of the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, the collections contain a high quantity of primary resources and historical papers concerning many aspects of Michigan's past. The MPHC consists of forty 600 to 700 page volumes. Each volume includes letters, speeches, memorial reports, private and professional papers of individuals, as well as personal remembrances and historical essays. The bulk of these materials span a period of roughly two hundred years, from 1650 to 1850. However, these dates are not entirely inclusive. For example, the collections contain essays written about Michigan's ancient burial mounds as well as documents from the civil war era. It is also important to note that while most of the MPHC concerns the events and people of Michigan's past, materials pertaining to other parts of the mid-west are included as well. Categories of materials include : American Revolution, Battle of Fallen Timbers, Biographies, Criminality Legality, Legacies if Isabella County's Early Native American Reservations, Fur Trade, Early Relations with Americans, General Relations with the British, General Relations with the French, Native Americans Missions and Missionaries, Native American Presents and Giving, Conflicts between Native American Nations, Pontiac's Conspiracy, Prehistory and Archaeology, Speeches and Councils, Treaties, and War of 1812.   For more information about the collection, visit Native American Materials in the Clarke Historical Library and Native American Material.

MSU Special Collections Library Items

American Indian Movement.

American Indian Movement

Part of the American Indian Movement collection (American Radicalism)  For more items visit the Special Colletions website and search American Indian Movement in the catalog search box.

Also check out the Wounded Knee collection (American Radicalism)  For more items visit the Special Colletions website and search Wounded Knee in the catalog search box.

Consider visiting the MSU Library Special Collections Library to discover additional materials related to Native Americans.

MSU Museum "Sisters of the Great Lakes"/Nokomis Collection

The "Sisters of the Great Lakes"/Nokomis Collection grew out of the 1994 "Transcending Boundaries" project, a year-long series of professional development workshops, coordinated by the Nokomis American Indian Cultural Learning Center of Okemos, Michigan, for twenty American Indian women artists living in the Great Lakes region. Each project participant selected a piece for the collection they felt best represented their work and the collection includes portraits, biographies of artists, and color photographs of their baskets, pottery, beadwork, dolls, stained glass, sculptures, and drawings.

The accompanying exhibition and publication explored the ways in which American Indians, specifically women living in the Great Lakes region, visually address the complexities of being Indian in a modern world. It examines the multiple ways in which individuals express their identity as women, as artists, as American Indians, and as members of specific native communities. The collection counters the often stereotypical views of American Indian art, in general, and Great Lakes Indian art, in particular. The project was funded by a grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

For more information, contact Lynne Swanson at

State Archives of Michigan

State Archives of Michigan Native American CollectionsCircular No. 30 – Native Americans.. Itemized resources available in the State Archives.

University of Michigan

University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library Native Americans Bibliography.  This bibliography endeavors to list all manuscript collections in the Bentley Historical Library reflecting the history and culture of Native Americans in Michigan. The difficulty in adequately documenting Native Americans lies in the fact that the history of Native Americans is transmitted through artifacts and through an oral tradition intimately bound with a living culture rather than in the letters, diaries and other written documents that we associate with other groups and which are routinely collected by archival agencies like the Bentley.  Also contains links to online newspapers by Michigan Native American tribes.

Image of Chief Okemos

Chief Okemos portrait

Chief Okemos

For more information about Chief Okemos, vist Bill Castanier, "The Surprise Return of Chief Okemos", (Lansing) City Pulse, August 28, 2009.  Also see Chief Okemos entry from H2G2. 

Sample Primary Sources, A-H (Online)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.  Published in 2007, and winner of the National Book Award, Sherman Alexie’s coming-of-age novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian gives readers insight into life on an Indian reservation. Alexie calls his gritty, dark novel “reservation realism.” The protagonist, Arnold Spirit, Jr., deals with abuse, bullying, poverty, alcoholism, and senseless violence; however, his humor and spirit remain hopeful. Junior leaves the reservation in search of a better education and a way out of his oppressive life, ultimately finding a new identity. This primary source set includes photographs, text documents, and interviews with Sherman Alexie that provide context for thematic elements within The Absolutely True-Diary of Part-Time Indian. Courtesy of the Digital Public Library of America.

AIM and Wounded Knee Documents.  A collection of scanned documents from the Michigan State University Library Special Collections and made available by Mike Wicks.

American Indian Boarding Schools by Hillary Brady.  Throughout the nineteenth century, boarding schools were established to educate and assimilate American Indian children according to US cultural standards and values. These schools, predominantly run by Christian missionaries, were often funded by the federal government and worked to “civilize” Native American children, forcing many to abandon their names, cultures, and identities in the process. This collection of photos and documents shows what life was like for the many children enrolled in American Indian boarding schools. Courtesy of the Digital Public Library of America.

American Indian Histories and Cultures Online Portal. Explore manuscripts, artwork and rare printed books dating from the earliest contact with European settlers right up to photographs and newspapers from the mid-twentieth century. Browse through a wide range of rare and original documents from treaties, speeches and diaries, to historic maps and travel journals.  Courtesy of the Newberry Library in Chicago in conjunction with Adam Matthew. Note : access restricted to the MSU community and other subscribers.

American Indian Law Collection (via HeinOnline).  With more than 1000 unique titles and 1,000,000 pages dedicated to American Indian Law, this collection includes an expansive archive of treaties, federal statutes and regulations, federal case law, tribal codes, constitutions, and jurisprudence. This library also features rare compilations edited by Felix S. Cohen that have never before been accessible online. (Also listed under HeinOnline)

American Indian Movement and Native American Radicalism, 1968-1979.  Gale Cengage Archives Unbound.  : The American Indian Movement (AIM) expanded from its roots in Minnesota and broadened its radical political agenda to include a searching analysis of the nature of social injustice in America.  AIM used the media to present its message to the American public. On Thanksgiving Day 1970, AIM seized the replica of the Mayflower. In 1971, members occupied Mount Rushmore; in 1972, they took over the Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters in Washington, D.C. In February 1973, AIM members initiated a 71-day siege at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in response to the 1890 massacre of some 150 Lakota men, women and children by the U.S. Seventh Calvary...The American Indian Movement and Native American Radicalism includes FBI documentation on the evolution of AIM as an organization of social protest, as well as valuable documentation on the 1973 Wounded Knee standoff. Informant reports and materials collected by the Extremist Intelligence Section of the FBI provide insight into the motives, actions, and leadership of AIM and the development of Native American radicalism...FBI files provide detailed information on the evolution of AIM as an organization of social protest. These files cover 1969 to 1979, a period that witnessed AIM’s rise to national prominence and its subsequent demiseas a politically and culturally viable force. During its surveillance, the FBI developed a network of information concerning AIM’s leadership, its policies, its strategies and its role in the civil rights movement and the politics of the New Left....These files offer a significant source of documentation on the intelligence and law enforcement programs of the FBI in an era of increasingly militant social activism.

  • The Gordon, Nebraska, affair and the death of Raymond Yellow Thunder
  • The Trail Broken Treaties protest march from the West Coast to Washington, DC
  • The takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters office in Washington, DC on November 1, prior to the 1972 presidential election.
  • Demonstration at Custer, South Dakota, stemming from the stabbing death of AIM member Wesley Bad Heart Bull
  • The occupation of Wounded Knee by AIM members and their Pine Ridge Reservation allies
  • Establishment of support groups, such as the Black Panthers, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Venceremos, Students for a Democratic Society, La Raza Unida Party, Workers Alliance, and the October League
  • Fundraising activities and monetary support from many individuals and groups who sympathized with AIM’s cause, including church groups, government programs, and private donations – all of which were a particular target of the FBI
  • Correspondence and informant reports on AIM leaders, such as Clyde and Vernon Bellecourt, Dennis Banks, George Mitchell, Leonard Crow Dog, Carter Camp, and Leonard Peltier.

The American Indian Movement, 1968-1978 by Franky Abbott.  Founded in July 1968 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the American Indian Movement (AIM) is an American Indian advocacy group organized to address issues related to sovereignty, leadership, and treaties. Particularly in its early years, AIM also protested racism and civil rights violations against Native Americans. During the 1950s, increasing numbers of American Indians had been forced to move away from reservations and tribal culture because of federal Indian termination policies intended to assimilate them into mainstream American culture. Founders of AIM included Mary Jane Wilson, Dennis Banks, Vernon Bellecourt, Clyde Bellecourt, and George Mitchell, while other activists like Russell Means worked with the organization prominently in the 1970s.... AIM staged a number of protest actions on historically significant sites of injustice and violence perpetrated by the federal government against Native Americans. These protests included the occupation of Alcatraz Island in 1970, protests at the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1972, the occupation of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1973, and the Longest Walk spiritual march from Alcatraz to Washington, DC to support tribal sovereignty and bring attention to anti-Indian legislation in 1978. AIM continues its work to the present day, speaking out against injustices and working to improve conditions for Native Americans. This primary source set uses documents, photographs, videos, and news stories to tell the story of the first decade of the American Indian Movement.  Courtesy of the Digital Public Library of America.

American Indian Oral History : Doris Duke Collection.  Beginning in 1966, tobacco heiress and philanthropist Doris Duke funded seven American Indian oral history projects, including one based at the University of Oklahoma. The Duke Collection of American Indian Oral History online provides access to typescripts of interviews (1967 -1972) conducted with hundreds of Indians in Oklahoma regarding the histories and cultures of their respective nations and tribes. Related are accounts of Indian ceremonies, customs, social conditions, philosophies, and standards of living. Members of every tribe resident in Oklahoma were interviewed.

American Indians of the Pacific Northwest.  This digital collection integrates over 2,300 photographs and 7,700 pages of text relating to the American Indians in two cultural areas of the Pacific Northwest, the Northwest Coast and Plateau. These resources illustrate many aspects of life and work, including housing, clothing, crafts, transportation, education, and employment. The materials are drawn from the extensive collections of the University of Washington Libraries, the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture (formerly the Cheney Cowles Museum/Eastern Washington State Historical Society), and the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle. Originally created for the Library of Congress American Memory Project.

American Journeys. Contains more than 18,000 pages of eyewitness accounts of North American exploration, from the sagas of Vikings in Canada in AD1000 to the diaries of mountain men in the Rockies 800 years later.  Read the words of explorers, Indians, missionaries, traders and settlers as they lived through the founding moments of American history. View, search, print, or download more than 150 rare books, original manuscripts, and classic travel narratives from the library and archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society.

American Notes: Travels in America, 1750-1920.  comprises 253 published narratives by Americans and foreign visitors recounting their travels in the colonies and the United States and their observations and opinions about American peoples, places, and society from about 1750 to 1920. Also included is the thirty-two-volume set of manuscript sources entitled Early Western Travels, 1748-1846, published between 1904 and 1907 after diligent compilation by the distinguished historian and secretary of the Wisconsin Historical Society Reuben Gold Thwaites. Although many of the authors represented in American Notes are not widely known, the collection includes works by major figures such as Matthew Arnold, Fredrika Bremer, William Cullen Bryant, François-René de Chateaubriand, William Cobbett, James Fenimore Cooper, J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur, Charles Dickens, Washington Irving, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, Sir Charles Lyell, William Lyon Mackenzie, André Michaux, Thomas Nuttall, Frederick Law Olmsted, and Robert Louis Stevenson. The narratives in American Notes therefore range from the unjustly neglected to the justly famous, and from classics of the genre to undiscovered gems. Together, they build a mosaic portrait of a young nation. Be sure to check the subject entry Indians of North America for 18 items of interest. Courtesy of the Library of Congress American Memory Project.

Archives Unbound, see American Indian Movement and Native American Radicalism 1968-1979..

Assimilation through Education : Photos, early film footage, federal government reports, cartoons, and maps tell the complex tale of the efforts to assimilate Native Americans through education.  Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Black Hawk War of 1832.  In May of 1832 Sac and Fox Indians under the leadership of Black Hawk left the Iowa territory and returned to their homes across the Mississippi River in northern Illinois. These Native Americans had lost their Illinois lands in a disputed treaty signed in St. Louis in 1804. Their return to northern Illinois sparked widespread panic among white settlers, and Illinois Governor Reynolds quickly called up the militia, which included a young Abraham Lincoln. Both the militia and regular army troops proved unable to locate the elusive Indians at first, but by July they had begun to pursue Black Hawk's band across northern Illinois and southwestern Wisconsin, engaging them in a major conflict at Wisconsin Heights before finally routing the Indians at Bad Axe on the Mississippi River. This project presents searchable primary source materials describing the Black Hawk War of 1832. It includes the Autobiography of Black Hawk, American soldiers' first-hand accounts and reminiscences, maps and other images, and treaties and other government documents. It is a part of the larger Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project and its attempts to use the events of Lincoln's life as a lens through which to interpret and understand broader themes of antebellum American history.

Captivity Narratives from the Archive of Americana.  Note click on Captivity Narratives for a selection of 177 captivity narratives published prior to 1819.  Available to the MSU community and other subscribers.

Carlisle Indian Industrial School Digital Resource CenterThe Carlisle Indian Industrial School is a major site of memory for many Native peoples, as well as a source of study for students and scholars around the globe. This website represents an effort to aid the research process by bringing together, in digital format, a variety of resources that are physically preserved in various locations around the country. Through these resources, we seek to increase knowledge and understanding of the school and its complex legacy, while also facilitating efforts to tell the stories of the many thousands of students who were sent there.

Central Michigan University Native American Material in the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections : An important but often overlooked Native American resource. Produced from materials presented at the annual meetings of the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, the collections contain a high quantity of primary resources and historical papers concerning many aspects of Michigan's past. The MPHC consists of forty 600 to 700 page volumes. Each volume includes letters, speeches, memorial reports, private and professional papers of individuals, as well as personal remembrances and historical essays. The bulk of these materials span a period of roughly two hundred years, from 1650 to 1850. However, these dates are not entirely inclusive. For example, the collections contain essays written about Michigan's ancient burial mounds as well as documents from the civil war era. It is also important to note that while most of the MPHC concerns the events and people of Michigan's past, materials pertaining to other parts of the mid-west are included as well. Categories of materials include : American Revolution, Battle of Fallen Timbers, Biographies, Criminality Legality, Legacies if Isabella County's Early Native American Reservations, Fur Trade, Early Relations with Americans, General Relations with the British, General Relations with the French, Native Americans Missions and Missionaries, Native American Presents and Giving, Conflicts between Native American Nations, Pontiac's Conspiracy, Prehistory and Archaeology, Speeches and Councils, Treaties, and War of 1812.   For more information about the collection, visit Native American Materials in the Clarke Historical Library and Native American Material.

Cross-Cultural Colonial Conflicts by Adena Barnette.  English-Native conflicts began as soon as the first European settlers arrived at Jamestown in 1607, when they encountered the dominant Powhatan Confederacy and realized they must build a coalition or fight to secure the region for England. These early events created the mythic relationship between John Smith and Pocahontas, which is still interpreted in popular culture. Relations quickly broke down and ended in warfare. The same happened in New England. Fighting erupted in the region in 1637 when Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island forces destroyed the Pequot Nation and again in 1675 during King Philip’s War, when conflicts arose around protecting a traditional indigenous way of life. Other colonies, such as Pennsylvania, sought to establish treaties with the native population. The colonists often sought to appease native leadership in order to avoid struggle, but did so with a tone of ethnic superiority. These relationships were never seen as a partnership of equals; colonists sought to dominate their extensive landholdings and to remove native threats from these areas. By exploring cross-cultural colonial conflicts between European and Native populations through the lenses of chronology, politics, religion, and society, we can understand the breakdown of fledgling alliances and the impact of colonialist expansion on the Native American way of life.  Courtesy of the Digital Public Library of America.

Durant Roll Chippewa and Ottawa of Michigan 1870 & 1908

Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639-1800 is the definitive resource for information about every aspect of life in 17th- and 18th-century America, from agriculture and auctions through foreign affairs, diplomacy, literature, music, religion, the Revolutionary War, temperance, witchcraft, and just about any other topic imaginable. This resource consists of more than 37,000 books, pamphlets, and broadsides. Try searching the word Indian.

Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker 1801-1819 - This essential complement to Series I provides virtually every book, pamphlet and broadside published in America during the first two decades of the 19th century   Try searching the word Indian.

Early Encounters in North America: Peoples, Cultures, and the Environment. This collection by Alexander Street Press documents the relationships among peoples and the environment in North America from 1534 to 1850. The collection includes both published and unpublished accounts, narratives, diaries, journals, and letters.

Early Western Travels, 1748-1846: A Series of Annotated Reprints of Some of the Best and Rarest Contemporary Volumes of Travel: Descriptive of the Aborigines and Social and Economic . . . During the Period of Early American SettlementReuben Gold Thwaites, editor.  Part of the Library of Congress American Memory Project.

Edward S. Curtis's the North American Indian.  One of the most significant and controversial representations of traditional American Indian culture ever produced. Issued in a limited edition from 1907-1930, the publication continues to exert a major influence on the image of Indians in popular culture. Curtis said he wanted to document "the old time Indian, his dress, his ceremonies, his life and manners." In over 2000 photogravure plates and narrative, Curtis portrayed the traditional customs and lifeways of eighty Indian tribes. The twenty volumes, each with an accompanying portfolio, are organized by tribes and culture areas encompassing the Great Plains, Great Basin, Plateau Region, Southwest, California, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska. Featured here are all of the published photogravure images including over 1500 illustrations bound in the text volumes, along with over 700 portfolio plates. Originally made available by theLibrary of Congress American Memory Project; now available thanks to the Northwestern University Libraries.

Evans Digital Collection (Early American Imprints, Series I : 1639-1800).  Type in Indian, Indians, or names of specific tribes. Also listed as Early American Imprints.

Exploration of the Americas by Kerry Dunne. Although conventional narratives often have begun this topic with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492, it is critical to note the presence of an estimated 37 million inhabitants in North and South America at the time of European exploration. It is also important, given what we know about the varied peoples and civilizations of the Americas, and the aims and consequences of Europeans sailing to the Americas, to characterize this period not as “discovery” of the Americas but as “exploration,” “colonization,” and/or “conquest.” ... The historical details of European exploration of the Americas are many, and difficult to summarize. There is archaeological evidence of Viking exploration and temporary settlement in Eastern Canada and New England around the year 1000. Unconfirmed tales of Irish, African, and Polynesian exploration of the Americas prior to 1492 also exist. But, without a doubt, the onslaught of European colonization began in 1492 with the arrival of Christopher Columbus, and quickly accelerated as the Spanish claimed land in the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, and South America, the French claimed land in the Caribbean and the central and northern portions of North America, and the British claimed land in what is today the eastern United States as well as Canada. Portugal and the Netherlands also, for a time, held significant “new world” colonies.... The consequences of this period of exploration and early colonization are many. The “Columbian Exchange” led to a rapid introduction of new flora and fauna in Europe and the Americas. European nations gained wealth, power, and vast lands in which to re-settle excess populations. But surely, the largest consequences were felt by the native peoples of the Americas, who experienced a genocide that diminished their populations by more than 90 percent within a century of European arrival, and on the peoples of West Africa, who were enslaved by the millions to build a captive labor force in the newly colonized Americas. Courtesy of the Digital Public Library of America.

Family Stories from the Trail of Tears.  A collection of writing by American Indians who were involved with the removal of Indigenous Nations from their traditional homelands in the nineteenth century.  While the term Trails of Tears has been applied to the removal of tribal groups from the American Southeast to Indian Territory, we use it to apply to the forced resettlement of Indian nations from other parts of the country as well.  The writings include narratives by survivors, family stories, memoirs, poetry, and essays concerning removal policy.  We have excluded accounts from non-Indian sources, as these are available elsewhere.  Additional texts will be added as they become available.  Indian Voices from the Trails of Tears is a part of the Native Writers Digital Text Project, an attempt to bring writing by American Indians and Alaska Natives to the attention of readers world wide via the Internet.  Courtesy of the Sequoyah Research Center at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock.

The First American West: The Ohio River Valley, 1750-1820. Provides digital access to 15,000 pages of original historical material documenting the land, peoples, exploration, and transformation of the trans-Appalachian West from the mid-eighteenth to the early nineteenth century. The collection is drawn from the holdings of the University of Chicago Library and the Filson Historical Society of Louisville, Kentucky. Among the sources included are books, periodicals, newspapers, pamphlets, scientific publications, broadsides, letters, journals, legal documents, ledgers and other financial records, maps, physical artifacts, and pictorial images. The collection documents the travels of the first Europeans to enter the trans-Appalachian West, the maps tracing their explorations, their relations with Native Americans, and their theories about the region's mounds and other ancient earthworks. Naturalists and other scientists describe Western bird life and bones of prehistoric animals. Books and letters document the new settlers' migration and acquisition of land, navigation down the Ohio River, planting of crops, and trade in tobacco, horses, andwhiskey. Leaders from  Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to Isaac Shelby, William Henry Harrison, Aaron Burr, and James Wilkinson comment on politics and regional conspiracies. Documents also reveal the lives of trans-Appalachian African Americans, nearly all of them slaves; the position of women; and the roles of churches, schools, and other institutions.   Be sure to browse through the 66 items compiled under Native Americans. Courtesy of the Library of Congress American Memory Project.

First Nations CollectionProduced by the Southern Oregon University Library, the Southern Oregon Digital Archive provides access to the First Nations Collection, consisting of documents, books, and articles pertaining to the region's native inhabitants. One can search the collections for particular authors and titles.

HeinOnline American Indian Law Collection : Since the American Revolution, American Indian law has evolved into a complex web of treaties, federal statutes and regulations, federal case law, tribal codes, constitutions, and jurisprudence. This collection contains more than 1,000 titles and 1,000,000 pages.  Click here for more information.  Note : access restricted to the MSU community.

History of the American West, 1860-1920 : Photographs from the Collection of the Denver Public LibraryProvides users with an opportunity to study western agriculture, mining, and the railroad, as well as their impact on the settlement of the West and the development of U.S. culture. The collection also contains numerous photographs pertaining to Native Americans of the West, and to the wars fought between Native Americans and the U.S. military. Labor unions of the early twentieth century as well as the two World Wars are also represented.  Check out the tabs for Native American Cultures, Navajo and Apache Wars, and Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Wars.  

Sample Primary Sources, I-Z (Online)

The Illustrating Traveler : Encounters Native Americans.  Native Americans were an important focus of illustration in North American travel accounts. Any traveler-artist on the fringes of the frontier was likely to consider Indians an exotic and interesting theme for illustration, although most of the images shown here were created by artists with some serious anthropological motives. Artists such as George Catlin or Paul Kane traveled solely for the purpose of depicting Native Americans, believing they were witnesses to a civilization nearing extinction. Others, such as Walter McClintock, set out to live among the Indians and ended up compiling an impressive photographic archive. A Yale University Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library Exhibition.

Images of Indian Peoples of the Northern Great Plains : Online Image DatabaseImages were digitized and drawn from the library collections of three of the Montana State University campuses ( Bozeman, Billings, and Havre), the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, and Little Big Horn College in Crow Agency, Montana. The applicant partnership was between Montana State University Libraries and the Museum of the Rockies. The digital collection was created in consultation with Native Americans, educators, librarians, and historians. The overall organization of the database is by tribe, including: Crow, Cheyenne, Blackfeet, Salish (Flathead), Kutenai, Chippewa-Cree, Gros Ventres (Atsina), and Assiniboine. The collection consists primarily of images, but includes some text to give context. Most of the images are photographs, but there are also ledger drawings, serigraphs, paintings and other media.

Images of Indians of North America The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division preserves and makes available more than 17,000 pictorial records of native peoples made chiefly by European and Euro- American artists and photographers. Most of these have documentary importance; some are also important to the artistic development of graphic art and photography.  More than three-quarters of the Division's images are photographs. Other material includes drawings, engravings, lithographs, posters, and architectural drawings. While pictorial material relating to the American Indian was produced as early as the fifteenth century, the Prints and Photographs Division's holdings in this area are strongest for the period 1860 to 1940. Many of these images came to the Library through copyright. Other works have been obtained through gift, purchase, transfer from other federal agencies, and exchange. All of the material can be viewed in the Reading Room. Hundreds of these images--which represent only a portion of the holdings--can be viewed on the World Wide Web through the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. Search by "Indians of North America" or by keyword to access some of the images and records from the vast collections. For lists or summaries of the Division's complete holdings, consult the reference works listed at the end of this document. For thematic overviews and sample images, consult the sections immediately following.

Images of Native Americans. The Bancroft Library presents "Images of Native Americans," a digital companion to an exhibit of rare books, photographs, illustrations, and other archival and manuscript materials that debuted in the Fall of 2000, to celebrate the acquisition of the University of California, Berkeley Library's nine millionth volume. Courtesy of the University of California Bancroft Library.

Indian-Pioneer Papers CollectionThe Indian-Pioneer Papers oral history collection spans from 1861 to 1936.   It includes typescripts of interviews conducted during the 1930s by government  workers with thousands of Oklahomans regarding the settlement of Oklahoma and  Indian territories, as well as the condition and conduct of life there. Consisting  of approximately 80,000 entries, the index to this collection may be accessed  via personal name, place name, or subject.  Courtesy of the University of Oklahoma Western History Collections.

Indiana University Glenn Black Laboratory of Archaeology Great Lakes and Ohio Valley Ethnohistory Collection.  "The Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology is an independent research unit within the Bloomington campus of Indiana University... The largest and most important holding is the Ohio Valley-Great Lakes Ethnohistory Archive. This collection comprises: 1) over one thousand reels of microfilm of original documents from the major archives in the United States, Great Britain, and France, 2) more than eight hundred loose-leaf volumes of documents indexed by Native American polity and by year, and 3) several hundred photocopies of important maps indexed by year and geographic coverage."   This web site contains numerous selections from online sources going back to 1600.

Indigenous Peoples : North America (Gale).    Provides a robust, diverse, and appealing search experience and enables intelligent inquiry into the culture and heritage of indigenous people.  Indigenous Peoples: North America is sourced from both American and Canadian institutions, as well as direct-from-source from newspapers from various tribes and Indian-related organizations. The collection also features indigenous-language materials, including dictionaries, bibles, and primers.  Topics of interest include trade and communication, Arctic exploration and tribes, the Iroquois Confederation, Canadian Catholic Indian missions, Indian removal, Indian wars and the frontier army, establishment of the Canadian Indian and Aboriginal Department, Indian delegations and Indian-federal relations, Canadian Indian treaty policy, government boarding and missionary schools and curricula, Dawes Severalty and the allotment system, dances and festivals, Alaskan Indian policies, Indian languages and linguistics, 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.  Sales brochureMore information about some of the collections drawn from Wichita State University Libraries.

Jacksonian Democracy? by Adena Barnett.  Andrew Jackson’s two terms as President (1829-1837) included many tests of the American Democratic system. Jackson vetoed twelve pieces of legislation, including the Maysville Road Bill and the rechartering of the Second Bank of the United States. Jackson also oversaw Indian Removal and weathered South Carolina’s nullification crisis over what the Carolinians called the Tariff of Abominations. Jackson’s presidency has been known as the “era of the common man,” a time when voting rights were extended to all white men in almost every state. This era also saw the rise of American Democratic Party. However, recent scholarship argues that the 1830s was a time of staunch nationalism as the Southern cottonocracy spread its plantation system further west. The purpose of this primary source set is to weigh both sides of the argument and decide whether Jackson’s presidency was a time of democracy, a time of rising nationalism or a combination of the two.   Courtesy of the Digital Public Library of America.

The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Sponsored by the University of Nebraska Press, the Center for Great Plains Studies, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries Electronic Text Center, this website gives online access to the celebrated Nebraska edition of the Lewis and Clark journals, edited by Gary E. Moulton. Though the project is now only in its beginning stages, it aims to make available the entire text of the journals -- almost 5000 pages. Besides the text the website features images as well as audio files of readings of passages from the journals.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition by Amy Rudersdorf.   The Lewis and Clark expedition was commissioned by Thomas Jefferson to explore and map the newly purchased Louisiana Territory, to identify a practical route to the Pacific Ocean, and to learn more about the native peoples who lived in the region. Headed by Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark, the Corps of Discovery Expedition took place from May 1804 to September 1806. Lewis and Clark and the rest of the exploration party were the first Americans to travel through what became the western United States. The expedition included a Shoshone woman named Sacagawea who served as a translator, guide, and diplomat to the many native tribes they encountered. Jefferson was also interested in the flora and fauna of the European-untraveled West, and had hundreds of specimens sent back to Virginia during the two-year undertaking. This collection of images, letters, and maps provides information about the expedition leaders, the president that made the expedition possible, and the people they encountered along the way.  Courtesy of the Digital Public Library of America.

Manifest Destiny by Jamie Lathan.  Belief in the God-ordained right of European-Americans to settle and colonize the continental United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast is known as manifest destiny. Coined by newspaper editor John O’Sullivan in 1845, the phrase “manifest destiny” reached its zenith during the US takeover of the Oregon territory, the Mexican-American War, and the California gold rush. Arising from heightened patriotism after the War of 1812, the religious passion of the Second Great Awakening, and the economic drive for more land and profits, this nationalist expansion of “American” people and culture was synonymous with white imperialist, racially supremacist, and religiously intolerant thoughts and actions against Native Americans, Mexicans, Chinese, Japanese, and other people of color. This primary source set includes visual, audial, and written documents that reflect the era’s projected ideals and harsh realities. From twentieth-century posters, monuments, and letters to nineteenth-century maps, biographies, and paintings, this set allows students to gain a greater understanding of how perceptions of manifest destiny have changed over time.  Courtesy of the Digital Public Library of America.

North American Indian Thought and Culture.  This online compilation is dedicated to telling the life stories of both the well-known historical figures such as Pocahontas and Sitting Bull, and also the lesser-known men and women whose day-to-day experiences give an equally valuable portrayal of Indian culture....The collection is comprised of material that covers the entire history of North America; from 17th century accounts of the first encounters involving Indians and European colonists to the stories of aboriginals living in a 21st century world. Every stage of life is represented—birth, adolescence, adulthood, and death....The collection presents the entire spectrum of native peoples' experiences from their own point of view. Firsthand accounts reveal how Indians lived, thought, and fought to protect their interests; how the tribes interacted with each other and the white invaders; how they reacted to the constantly changing and challenging situations they faced; and how they struggled to maintain their cultures while living in a society that often expects them to abandon it for acculturation. Many of the biographies are about Indians pursuing their everyday lives and reflecting on what was happening to them. These accounts offer a direct window on Indian attitudes toward the earliest European settlers and the resultant transformations that took place, first as trade was established and later as displacement forced tribes into unfamiliar territories....North American Indian Thought and Culture integrates these writings, images, and oral histories for the first time, providing a comprehensive representation of key events as described by the people directly involved. As such, it is an essential resource for all those interested in serious, scholarly research into the history of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Canadian First Peoples....Still expanding, this compilation now includes 112 volumes from the Indian Pioneer History Collection compiled by the U.S. Works Progress Administration. New and current full-length biographies include works on Quanah Parker, Dennis Banks, Susan La Flesche Picotte, Cochise, Jim Thorpe, Crowfoot, Peter Pitchlynn, Sacajawea, Geronimo, Hosteen Klah, Black Elk, Pocahontas, George Washington Grayson, Standing Buffalo, and many more. More than twenty volumes covering chiefs of various nations are now included, as well as a modern edition of the collected speeches of Sitting Bull. The Center for Indigenous Arts & Cultures' five-volume encyclopedia on American Indian Artists has been added ("American Indian Art Series"), and the recent publication, American Indian Biographies (Salem Press, 2005) also adds many contemporary names to the collection.  Other recently added materials include the complete volumes of Edward Curtis's The North American Indian and the McKenney-Hall History of the Indian Tribes of North America volumes, and J. Norman Heard's five volumes of the Handbook of the American Frontier. Virtually all North American regions and groups will be represented in depth, including the Eskimos and Inuit of the Arctic; the sub-Arctic Cree; the Pacific Coastal Salish; the Ojibwa, Cheyenne, and Sioux of the Plains; the Luiseno, Pomo, and Miwok of California; the Apache, Navajo, and Hopi of the Southwest; the Creek and Cherokee of the Southeast; the Peqout, Iroquois, and Seneca of the Northeast; the Metis and Nez Perce of the Great Plateau; and peoples of other regions. Nearly 500 nations are represented in all.  Note : access restricted to the MSU community and other subscribers.

Papers of the War Department, 1784 to 1800.  Produced by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, this database offers digital images of documents pertaining to the U.S. War Department that are physically scattered in repositories across the nation. It also provides information about documents that are cited in existing records but appear not to have survived. Browsable by year, author, and recipient and searchable by author, recipient, location, year, and topic, the site includes documents on Indian affairs, veteran affairs, assistance to widows and children, military issues, and the establishment of the federal government.

Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820-1910 portrays the states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century through first-person accounts, biographies, promotional literature, local histories, ethnographic and antiquarian texts, colonial archival documents, and other works drawn from the Library of Congress's General Collections and Rare Books and Special Collections Division. The collection's 138 volumes depict the land and its resources; the conflicts between settlers and Native peoples; the experience of pioneers and missionaries, soldiers and immigrants and reformers; the growth of local communities and local cultural traditions; and the development of regional and national leadership in agriculture, business, medicine, politics, religion, law, journalism, education, and the role of women.  Compiled by the Library of Congress as part of the American Memory Project.

Prairie Fire : The Illinois Country Before 1818  : In 1673, the French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet became the first Europeans to visit the land that came to be called the Illinois Country. In the succeeding century Europeans and Native Americans lived together there in a state of uneasy coexistence. The Illinois Country became a part of the United States' Northwest Territory in 1787, and native Americans fought a series of bloody wars in an unsuccessful attempt to stem the tide of white settlement. In 1818, Illinois became the twenty-first state, and by 1832, authorities had pushed the last Native Americans Beyond its borders.... "Prairiefire: The Illinois Country Before 1818" presents historical texts and images from the period of first white settlement of the Illinois Country to the Black Hawk War of 1832. These materials focus on life in the area originally known as the Old Northwest, which now includes Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as Illinois. The site includes letters, travelogues, and memoirs of white explorers, trappers, and settlers, as well as such Native American materials as are available. Interpretive materials telling the story of the Illinois Country and the Old Northwest in the years before the removal of the Illinois' Native Americans assist users in interpreting and searching the site.

President Andrew Jackson's Message to Congress on Indian Removal (1830).  Part of the 100 Milestone Documents from the Collection of the National Archives and Records Administration collections.  It features President Andrew Jackson's December 6, 1830, message calling for the relocation of eastern Native American tribes to land west of the Mississippi River, in order to open new land for settlement by citizens of the United States.

Primary Documents in American History: Indian Removal Act

Shaw-Shoemaker Digital Collection (Early American Imprints, Series II : 1801-1819).  Try searching Indian, Indians, or the names of particular tribes. Also listed as Early American Imprints.

Shorey W. Ross's Memories of the Cherokee NationEmmet Starr, in his History of the Cherokee Indians, called Shorey W. Ross the "ablest literary individual of the Cherokee Nation." A descendent of Chief John Ross, Shorey was born near Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation on March 9, 1871; the oldest of six children. The son of Lewis Anderson and Nellie Potts Ross, Shorey attended private schools in his area including the Presbyterian mission school at Park Hill and the Cherokee Male Seminary. Ross earned respect for writing beginning in his teens with his work for the Indian Arrow and continued with editorials for The Daily Oklahoman among other newspapers. Ross's historical contributions include many recollections for publications such as The Chronicles of Oklahoma and Indian and Pioneer History. Ross also spent a portion of his life as a school teacher. By the time of his death in 1960, Ross had become noted for his numerous literary contributions.  The recollections of Shorey W. Ross are valuable to the study of Cherokee and Oklahoma history. Many of these recollections are compiled here for the use of future generations. Ross's sister Elizabeth took down his statements for inclusion in the Indian-Pioneer History Collection.  From the Sequoyah Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Smithsonian Source Primary Sources. Contains a collection of speeches, letters, etc. pertaining to Native American History in the United States.

Southeastern Native American Documents, 1730-1842, contains approximately 2,000 documents and images relating to the Native American population of the Southeastern United States from the collections of the University of Georgia Libraries, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville Library, the Frank H. McClung Museum, the Tennessee State Library and Archives,  the Tennessee State Museum,  the Museum of the Cherokee Indian,  and the LaFayette-Walker County Library. The documents are comprised of letters, legal proceedings, military orders, financial papers, and archaeological images relating to Native Americans in the Southeast. This site includes historical materials that may contain offensive language or negative stereotypes reflecting the culture or language of a particular period or place. These items are presented as part of the historical record. Courtesy of the Digital Library of Georgia.

Spanish Missions in California by In the mid-eighteenth century, present-day California was the northernmost Spanish colony on the North American continent. In 1769, on orders from Spain’s King Charles III, Gaspar de Portolá and a group of Franciscans led by Junípero Serra traveled from Baja California to explore territory to the North. Their goal was to extend the missions (or religious settlements) from Baja California into the area that would become Alta California by establishing a string of new outposts a day’s journey apart.... From 1769 to 1833, Spanish Franciscans established twenty-one missions in Alta California, stretching 600 miles from San Diego to San Francisco along a path eventually known as the “California Mission Trail.” The goal of these settlements was twofold: to protect Spanish colonial interests in the new world and to “civilize,” educate, and convert Native Americans into tax-paying Spanish colonial citizens. In this way, Spanish mission work in Alta California mirrored the goals and efforts of the Spanish mission project throughout its colonies in the New World. Initially, these missions were meant to be self-sufficient, but they did not achieve this goal and instead relied on financial assistance from Spain....The impact of the missions on Native American populations was devastating. According to mission records, Franciscans at missions baptized more than 53,000 adult Native Americans and buried 37,000 during the period. Many Native Americans died from diseases such as measles and smallpox, introduced by Europeans, to which indigenous populations had no immunities. The mission system itself sought to recruit and indenture Native Americans for labor to produce food and build mission sites. Native Americans were often lured to the missions by gifts and trade opportunities, but once baptized, “neophytes” found themselves occupied by work, confined within mission compounds, and punished with brutal force if they ran away....After Mexico achieved independence from Spain in 1821, the Mexican Secularization Act (1833) disestablished the missions, and the Franciscans largely abandoned them. Many of the mission structures were later repurposed by the Catholic Church as religious and tourist sites; some still stand today. This primary source set uses documents, photographs, and artwork to tell the story of the development and impact of Spanish missions in California during the Mission period. Courtesy of the Digital Public Library.

State Archives of Michigan Native American Collections.  Circular No. 30 – Native Americans..  Itemized resources available in the State Archives.   

The Trail of Tears as Told by Johnny Cash : Part 1 and Part 2Removal of the Cherokees Birthday Story of Private John G. Burnett, Captain Abraham McClellan's Company, 2nd Regiment, 2nd Brigade, Mounted Infantry, Cherokee Indian Removal, 1838-39.  (Original Birthday Story of Private John G. Burnett," MS in Cherokee Museum, Cherokee, North Carolina.) 

Tribal Writers Digital Library.  The Native Writers Digital Text Project brings the works of Native poets and writers of fiction and other prose to readers world wide. Featuring out-of-print literary efforts of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and First Nations people of Canada, the project seeks to broaden the definition of “Native Writing” not only by focusing on writers who are not ordinarily anthologized, but also by publishing works which originally appeared in “ephemeral” sources and the periodical press, especially in those publications edited and produced by Natives.  Sponsored by the Sequoyah Research Center of the University of Arkanasas at Little Rock.

University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library Native Americans Bibliography.  This bibliography endeavors to list all manuscript collections in the Bentley Historical Library reflecting the history and culture of Native Americans in Michigan. The difficulty in adequately documenting Native Americans lies in the fact that the history of Native Americans is transmitted through artifacts and through an oral tradition intimately bound with a living culture rather than in the letters, diaries and other written documents that we associate with other groups and which are routinely collected by archival agencies like the Bentley.  Also contains links to online newspapers by Michigan Native American tribes.

Westward Expansion: Encounters at a Cultural Crossroads : The expansion of the U.S. westward and the encounters that resulted are documented in photographs, sheet music, maps, letters, oral history, and more. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The Wounded Knee Massacre by Franky Abbott.  By the end of the nineteenth century, the US government had permanently transformed Native American life across the United States through broken treaties, bison hunting to near-extinction, and reservation containment. Native Americans were also deleteriously affected by government agents, assimilationist educational and religious programs, and military conflict. At the end of the nineteenth century, tribes across reservations practiced the “Ghost Dance” ritual, which called a new Messiah to bring back ancestors, show new hunting grounds, and remove white settlers from their lands. As ghost dancing spread, it compounded tensions between Native Americans and US government officials. After the death of Sitting Bull, a Lakota holy man, at the hands of the US military, a band of Lakota fled the Standing Rock Agency and made for the Pine Ridge Agency to seek protection. En route, they were stopped near the Wounded Knee Creek on December 29, 1890, and forcibly disarmed by the Seventh Cavalry, who came with an arsenal of weapons and a thirst for action. The disarming turned quickly to a massacre, as the US Army slaughtered ninety Lakota men and two hundred women and children. After three days of blizzard, the Army buried the frozen corpses of the Lakota slain in mass graves. Although there was conflict within the army about the actions of Colonel James W. Forsyth, who led the Seventh Cavalry and was responsible for the massacre, many soldiers at Wounded Knee were honored for their bravery. In 1973, Wounded Knee was again the site of conflict as residents on Pine Ridge and members of the American Indian Movement occupied the village to protest their treatment on the reservation by local officials and the Bureau of Indian Affairs as well as to shed light on the history of US government atrocities committed against Native American communities. This primary source set uses documents, photographs, government records, and news reporting to explore the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee and its historical impact.  Courtesy of the Digital Public Library of America.

Sample Primary Sources (Print)

American Indian History : A Documentary Reader / edited by Camilla Townsend.  Malden, MA : Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.  247pp.  Main Library E77 .A4963 2009 : This Reader from the Uncovering the Past  series provides a comprehensive introduction to American Indian history.

  • Over 60 primary documents allow the voices of natives to illuminate the American past
  • Includes samples of native languages just above the full translations of particular texts
  • Provides comprehensive introductions and headnotes, as well as images, an extensive bibliography, and suggestions for further research
  • Includes such texts as a decoded Maya inscription, letters written during the French and Indian War on the distribution of small pox blankets, and a diatribe by General George Armstrong Custer shortly before he was killed at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

Competing Voices from Native America. (Fighting Words series).  Dewi Ioan Ball, ed.  Westport, Ct. : Greenwood,  2008.  Main Library E77 .C743 2009 : A selection of short primary-source accounts from the 16th century to the present and from a variety of sources, including newspaper reports, Congressional documents, government documents, and Indian tribal sources, highlighting conflicts and controversies and presenting the opposing views of Native and non-Native Americans.

Documents of Native American Political Development : 1500s to 1933 / [edited by] David E. WilkinsOxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2009.  534pp.  Main Library E98.T77 D63 2009 :  The arrival of European and Euro-American colonizers in the Americas brought not only physical attacks against Native American tribes, but also further attacks against the sovereignty of these Indian nations. Though the violent tales of the Trail of Tears, Black Hawk's War, and the Battle of Little Big Horn are taught far and wide, the political structure and development of Native American tribes, and the effect of American domination on Native American sovereignty, have been greatly neglected. This book contains a variety of primary source and other documents--traditional accounts, tribal constitutions, legal codes, business councils, rules and regulations, BIA agents reports, congressional discourse, intertribal compacts--written both by Natives from many different nations and some non-Natives, that reflect how indigenous peoples continued to exercise a significant measure of self-determination long after it was presumed to have been lost, surrendered, or vanquished. The documents are arranged chronologically, and Wilkins provides brief, introductory essays to each document, placing them within the proper context. Each introduction is followed by a brief list of suggestions for further reading.  Covering a fascinating and relatively unknown period in Native American history, from the earliest examples of indigenous political writings to the formal constitutions crafted just before the American intervention of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, this anthology will be an invaluable resource for scholars and students of the political development of indigenous peoples the world over.

Documents of United States Indian policy / edited by Francis Paul Prucha.  Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, c2000.  3rd edition, 396pp.  Business Library KF8205 .D63 2000 : Two hundred thirty-eight official and quasi-official documents are presented here in chronological order, spanning from Washington's letter to Duane in 1783 to a March, 2000 list of federally recognized Indian tribes. A brief introduction accompanies each entry, explaining its significance and providing some context for its publication. Some documents are abridged; others are printed in full.

First Peoples : a Documentary Survey of American Indian History / Colin G. Calloway.   Boston : Bedford/St. Martin's, c2004. 2nd edition, 587pp. Main Library E77 .C14 2004  : First Peoples distinctive approach to American Indian history has earned praise and admiration from its users. Created to fill the significant need for a survey text that acknowledges the diversity of Native peoples, respected scholar Colin G. Calloway provides a solid course foundation that still allows instructors to emphasize selected topics of interest to them and their students. The signature format of First Peoples strikes the ideal balance between primary and secondary source material, combining narrative, written documents, and visual documents in each chapter.

Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America. Primary Documents / edited by Jeffrey LehmanDetroit, MI : Gale Group, c1999.  2 volumes.  Main Library E184.A1 G15 1999 : Primary documents, including letters, articles, cartoons, photos, and songs, illuminate the experience of culture groups in the U.S. from colonial times to the present.

Great Documents in American Indian History / edited by Wayne Moquin with Charles Van Doren ; new foreword by Dee Brown ; afterword by Robert Powless.   New York : Da Capo Press, 1995.  416pp.  Main Library E77.2 .M66 1995  : This remarkable collection of nearly one hundred primary documents presents a mosaic of individual Indian voices that span the vastness of their history while illuminating its particular moments. From an ancient Zuni creation myth to the resurgence of "Red Power" in the 1970s, this book gathers together the views of Indian leaders past and present, including Pontiac, Red Jacket, Chief Seattle, Tecumseh, Black Hawk, Ely S. Parker, Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, Cochise, Geronimo, Luther Standing Bear, Ruth Muskrat Bronson, and Vine Deloria, Jr. Here is a Pawnee mother's advice to her son Lone Chief; Charles Eastman's memories of his tribal boyhood; Speckled Snake's biting response to President Jackson's Indian Removal policy; Big Eagle's account of the Great Sioux Uprising; Two Moons's eyewitness account of the Battle of Little Big Horn; Chief Joseph's history of the Nez Perces tribe; the Massacre at Wounded Knee in the words of Sioux survivors; and much, much more. The result is a masterful, kaleidoscopic survey of American Indian thought, culture, and history that is as fascinating to read as it is impossible to forget.

Native American Testimony : a Chronicle of Indian-White Relations from Prophecy to the Present, 1492-2000 / edited by Peter Nabokov ; with a foreword by Vine Deloria, Jr.   New York, N.Y. : Penguin, 1999. Rev. ed.  Main Library E93 .N3 1999 : Revised to bring this important chronicle to the end of the millennium, anthropologist Peter Nabokov presents a history of Native American and white relations as seen though Indian eyes and told through Indian voices. Beginning with the Indians' first encounters with European explorers, traders, missionaries, settlers, and soldiers to the challenges confronting Native American culture today, Native American Testimony is a series of powerful and moving documents spanning five hundred years of interchange between the two peoples. Drawing from a wide range of sources--traditional narratives, Indian autobiographies, government transcripts, firsthand interviews, and more--Nabokov has assembled a remarkably rich and vivid collection, representing nothing less than an alternate history of North America.

Native American voices : a history and anthology / edited with an introduction by Stephen Mintz.  St. James, N.Y. : Brandywine Press, c2000.  2nd enlarged edition, 244pp.  Main Library E77.2 .N38 2000 : An introduction synthesizes the latest anthropological, archaeological, historical, and sociological scholarship and the 95 carefully edited selections provide students with an overview of Native American history from the earliest migrations to the present.  The volume includes a chronology, glossary, and bibliography, making it a valuable teaching tool.

Native Americans (1451-2017) : Defining Documents in American History.  Salem Press, 2017.  400pp.  On order : This title covers important historical documents from influential figures in Native American history. Readers will find in-depth analysis of a broad range of historical documents, including speeches, letters, legislation, court cases, and other sources about Native Americans. The set provides detailed, thought-provoking analysis of:

Iroquois Thanksgiving Address
Tecumseh: Speech to Governor Willian Henry Harrison
Indians of All Tribes Occupation of Alcatraz: Proclamation
Andrew Jackson on Indian Removal
Zitkala-Sa: Old Indian Legends

Our Hearts Fell to the Ground : Plains Indian Views of How the West Was Lost. / Colin G. Calloway. St. Martins Press, Bedford Books. 2nd edition, 2018. 226pp. on order : This unique anthology chronicles the Plains Indians' struggle to maintain their traditional way of life in the changing world of the nineteenth century. Its rich variety of 34 primary sources - including narratives, myths, speeches, and transcribed oral histories - gives students the rare opportunity to view the transformation of the West from Native American perspective. Calloway's comprehensive introduction offers crucial information on western expansion, territorial struggles among Indian tribes, the slaughter of the buffalo, and forced assimilation through the reservation system. More than 30 pieces of Plains Indian art are included, along with maps, headnotes, questions for consideration, a bibliography, a chronology, and an index.

Records of the Moravians among the Cherokees / C. Daniel Crews, Richard W. Starbuck, editors.  Tahlequah, Okla. : Cherokee National Press ; Norman, Okla. : Disbributed by University of Oklahoma Press, c2010-   E99.C5 R33 2010 : The Moravian Church established a mission in what is now the state of Georgia in the mid-18th century. The daily journals from the mission, of which the first section is reproduced in this volume (a second volume, published separately, contains the remaining journals), provide a wealth of information on the Cherokee Indians with whom they lived. The volume also includes the lengthy 1799 travel journal of Abraham Steiner, which provides a thorough overview of the mission's situation and interaction with the Cherokee. Published with a glossary and index, the volume is a valuable resource, with many of the documents published for the first time.

Voices of the American Indian Experience / James E. Seelye Jr., and Steven A. Littleton, editors.  Santa Barbara, Calif. : Greenwood, c2013.  2 volumes (796pp.) Main Library E77 .V65 2013 : This is a two-volume documentary reader presenting the perspectives of American Indians (either in the voices of American Indians themselves or as interpretable through other accounts) on the history of North America. Editors Seelye (history, Kent State U.) and Littleton (a doctoral candidate in the history of the American West at Northern Arizona U.) include 224 documents, chronologically arranged from a number of different creation stories and accounts of the period of European contact to documents from the beginning of the 21st century, including an interview with a Southern Cheyenne Indian serving as a lieutenant in Iraq and an interview with the founder of the Native American Rights Fund, John EchoHawk. A chronology, an index, and a guide to further reading are also included.

Voices of the American West / Eli S. Ricker ; edited and with an introduction by Richard E. Jensen.  Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, c2005.  2 volumes.  Main Library E76.8 .R53 2005  volume 1 :  The valuable interviews conducted by Nebraska judge Eli S. Ricker with Indian eyewitnesses to the Wounded Knee massacre, the Little Big Horn battle, the Grattan incident, and other events and personages of the Old West are finally made widely available in this long-awaited volume....In the first decade of the twentieth century, as the Old West became increasingly distant and romanticized in popular consciousness, Eli S. Ricker (1843–1926) began interviewing those who had experienced it firsthand, hoping to write a multi-volume series about its last days. Among the many individuals he interviewed were American Indians, mostly Sioux, who spoke extensively about a range of subjects, some with the help of an interpreter. For years Ricker traveled across the northern Plains, determinedly gathering information on and off reservations, in winter and in summer. Judge Ricker never wrote his book, but his interviews are priceless sources of information about the Old West that offer more balanced perspectives on events than were accepted at the time....Richard E. Jensen brings together all of Ricker’s interviews with American Indians, annotating the conversations and offering an extensive introduction that sets forth important information about Ricker, his research, and the editorial methodology guiding the present volume.

The World turned upside down : Indian voices from early America / edited with an introduction by Colin G. Calloway.  Boston : St. Martin's Press, c1994.  208pp.  Main Library E77 .W883 1994 : This collection presents Native American perspectives on the events of the colonial era, from the first encounters between Indians and non-Indians in the early 17th century to the American Revolution in the late 18th century. The documents are drawn from letters, speeches and the records of treaty negotiations in which Indians were addressing non-Indians. Calloway's introduction discusses the nature of such sources and the problems of dealing with them. He also analyzes the forces of change that were creating a "new world" for Native Americans during the colonial period. The book's themes are arranged chronologically and the editorial apparatus throughout the book helps to put primary sources into context for the student. Each chapter contains an overview. Each document is accompanied by a headnote with a brief discussion of its context and significance. An introduction discusses the uses and problems of primary source material and provides an overview of the Indian experience during the colonial period.

Michigan Specific Primary Sources

Michigan Specific

Attack at Michilimackinac : Alexander Henry's Travels and Adventures in Canada and the Indian Territories Between the Years 1760 and 1764 / edited by David A. Armour ; illustrated by Dirk Gringhuis.  Mackinac Island, Mich. : Mackinac Island State Park Commission, c1971, 1978 printing.  131pp. Main Library F551 .H42 1971 : Adventures of Alexander Henry, an eyewitness survivor of the attack at Michilimackinac in June 1763. The British fur trader's memoirs offer a unique insight into life at the palisaded fort between 1760 and 1770.

Edge of Empire : Documents of Michilimackinac, 1671-1716 target / translated by Joseph L. Peyser; edited by Joseph L. Peyser and José António Brandão ; introduction by José António Brandão.  East Lansing : Michigan State University Press ; Mackinac Island : Mackinac State Historic Parks, c2008.  192pp. Main Library F572.M16 E44 2008 : Portrays little known details of the fur trade that took place at Montreal, Michilimackinac, and the western Great Lakes region during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Most of the documents, enhanced by informative annotations, are being published in English translation for the first time. Edge of Empire introduces us to men and women who played key roles in the governance and administration of New France, military expeditions, and the contentiousness of the fur trade. — Keith Widder

History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan; a grammar of their language, and personal and family history of the author, by Andrew J. Blackbird, late U.S. interpreter ...  [Petoskey, Mich : Little Traverse Regional Historical Society], 1977.  128 leaves.  Main Library E99.O9 B53 1980z   The original 1887 edition is also available online and on microfiche :   Blackbird (Mack-e-te-be-nessy) was an Ottawa chief's son who served as an official interpreter for the U.S. government and later as a postmaster while remaining active in Native American affairs as a teacher, advisor on diplomatic issues, lecturer and temperance advocate. In this work he describes how he became knowledgeable about both Native American and white cultural traditions and chronicles his struggles to achieve two years of higher education at the Ypsilanti State Normal School. He also deals with the history of many native peoples throughout the Michigan region (especially the Mackinac Straits), combining information on political, military, and diplomatic matters with legends, personal reminiscences, and a discussion of comparative beliefs and values, and offering insights into the ways that increasing contact between Indians and whites were changing native lifeways. He especially emphasizes traditional hunting, fishing, sugaring, and trapping practices and the seasonal tasks of daily living. Ottawa traditions, according to the author, recall their earlier home on Canada's Ottawa River and how they were deliberately infected by smallpox by the English Canadians after allying themselves with the French. Blackbird finds Biblical parallels with Ottawa and Chippewa accounts of a great flood and a fish which ingests and expels a celebrated prophet. He includes his own oratorical "Lamentation" on white treatment of the Ottawas, twenty-one moral commandments of the Ottawa and Chippewa, the Ten Commandments and other religious material in the Ottawa and Chippewa language, and a grammar of that language. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft appears in the narrative in his role as an Indian agent.  Part of Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820-1910, Library of Congress American Memory Project.

Legends of Michigan and The Old North West; or, A cluster of unpublished waifs, gleaned along the uncertain, misty line, dividing traditional from historic times. By F. J. Littlejohn.  Allegan, Mich., Northwestern Bible and Publishing Co., 1875.  614pp.  Main Library E78.M6 L7 : Also available via Google online.

Schoolcraft's Indian Legends from Algic Researches, The myth of Hiawatha, Oneóta, the race in America, and Historical and statistical information respecting...the Indian tribes of the United States / edited by Mentor L. Williams.  East Lansing : Michigan State University Press, 1991.  322pp.  Main Library E98.F6 S37 1991 : Material presented here is drawn primarily from Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's 1839 edition of Algic Researches—a rare, yet often cited publication. However, stories from two later Schoolcraft collections, Oneota and The Myth of Hiawatha, are also included in an appendix. Thus, a representative view of the entire body of Schoolcraft's published Indian legends is available in a single volume....With a new forward by Phillip P. Mason, this book is designed to reacquaint America with one of its often-neglected geniuses. It is apparent when studying Schoolcraft's writing that he was clearly one of the first European Americans to recognize the merit and value of the Native American heritage as expressed in oral tradition....Critics have been divided in their assessment of Schoolcraft's contribution to the collection and preservation of Native American lore. The tide of interpretation has seen Schoolcraft's work achieve an initial popularity, only to be rejected by members of the 1920s intelligentsia, the same individuals who critically embraced (and seldom properly attributed) Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's adaptations of Schoolcraft's work. However, Schoolcraft recieved renewed attention, first in the 1950s, when Williams undertook to collect and edit the original volumes, and again today when the value and validity of the Native American oral tradition has, once again, been "discovered."

Schoolcraft's Narrative Journal of Travels : Through the Northwestern Regions of the United States, extending from Detroit through the great chain of American lakes to the sources of the Mississippi River, in the year 1820 / edited by Mentor L. Williams.  East Lansing, Mich. : Michigan State University Press, 1992.  520pp.  Main Library F484.3 .S37 1992 : This important Henry Rowe Schoolcraft work, first issued by Michigan State University Press in 1953, is now available as the second title in MSU Press's Schoolcraft Series. The book was originally published in 1821 under the long and pretentious title Narrative Journey of travels through the Northwestern Regions of the United States, extending from Detroit through the Great Chain of American Lakes to the Sources of the Mississippi River, Performed as a Member of the expedition under Governor Cass, in the Year 1820; it recounts Schoolcraft's participation in the John C. Calhoun-sponsored 1820 expedition to explore the cast, uncharted territory stretching from the upper Great Lakes into what is now northern Minnesota....This volume, a marvelous blend of reportage, scientific findings, and the author's personal observations, contains a wealth of information about geography and topography woven together with vivid descriptions of scenic beauty, Native American culture, and day-to-day life as a member of an exploring expedition.

Six Months Among Indians, Wolves and Other Wild Animals in the Forests of Allegan County, Mich., in the winter of 1839 and 1840 [microform] : interesting stories of forest life : the exploits of Tecumseh and other chiefs, their cruelty to captives : how Tecumseh was killed and who killed him : true Indian stories of the war of 1812-13 / by Darius B. Cook. Niles, Mich. : D.B. Cook, 1889. 2 p. l., 101 p. on 4 fiche. E85 Microfiche | Also available via Internet ArchiveAmazon description

World Turned Upside Down : Indian Voices from Early America : A Brief History With Documents.  Bedford, 2016.  2nd edition.  224pp.  on order : Through a collection of speeches, letters, and primary accounts, and with a revised introduction that draws on an outpouring of scholarship over the past twenty years, Colin Calloway provides insight into the underrepresented Native American voices of the colonial, Revolutionary, and early national periods. With four new text documents and four new visual source documents, the volume continues to portray such themes as loss of land, war and peace, missionaries and Christianity, the education of Native American youth, European technology, European alcohol, and political changes within Indian societies in Early America. Revised Questions for Consideration and an updated Selected Bibliography, along with a new Chronology of Encounters between Indians and Colonists, serve to further support student learning.



Note: Microfilm resources are posted on a separate tab.  While Michigan State has purchased many microfilm collections over the year, please note there are many more available from the Library of Michigan and other sources.  To identify more, search our online catalog, MelCat, and WorldCat and use interlibrary loan to pull them in.

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