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Michigan State University

Native American Studies Research Guide: E-Books

E-Book Overviews

In addition to some of our electronic reference works, you can find more electronic books through the following collections....

Michigan Indians in History

Michigan Indians in History. A collection of free online books and other resources courtesy of Envision the Past.

ACLS Humanities E-Book Collection

ACLS Humanities E-Books is a digital collection of 2,200 full-text titles offered by the American Council of Learned Societies in collaboration with nineteen learned societies, nearly 100 contributing publishers, and librarians at the University of Michigan’s Scholarly Publishing Office. The result is an online, fully searchable collection of high-quality books in the Humanities, recommended and reviewed by scholars and featuring unlimited multi-user access and free, downloadable MARC records. HEB is available 24/7 on- and off-campus through standard web browsers.

Some of the electronic books in this collection deal with Native American topics.  If you browse by subject, try topics such as:

Indians of North America.

Google Books

Google Books provides the largest collection of digitized books.  Unfortunately, due to copyright restrictions, many are restricted to snippets.  Also, Google Books is also populated with magazines (which can be good or bad depending on what you are looking for).

Click on the advanced searchfeature so you can restrict your search to full-text only and books.  You can also select a subject, but classical studies does not work.

Sample texts retrieved with the phrase "Indians of North America":

Biography and history of the Indians of North America: comprising a general ... Samuel Gardner Drake - History - 1835 - 544 pages

The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition: March 23-June 9, 1806   Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, Gary E. Moulton, Thomas W. Dunlay, University of Nebraska--Lincoln. Center for Great Plains Studies, American Philosophical Society - Biography & Autobiography - 1806

New travels among the Indians of North America: being a compilation, taken ...‎  Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, Jonathan Carver, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, William Fisher, United States. President (1801-1809 : Jefferson) - History - 1812 - 300 pages

The origin of the North American Indians: with a faithful description of ...‎ John McIntosh - History - 1859 - 304 pages

The origin of the North American Indians: with a faithful description of ... John McIntosh - History - 1858 - 345 pages


HathiTrust is a shared digital repository by the 13 members of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation and the University of California system. More information about HathiTrust is available at 

The MSU Libraries is just starting to load titles from the Hathi Trust into our online catalog. If there is a digitized title in the HathiTrust that matches a title in the MSU Library Union Catalog, then a link with the orange HathiTrust icon will show within the record, linking to the full text page hosted by HathiTrust database.  Note: Additional items may be available published before 1923 or whose authors have given permission for access.

Take a look at some of the following titles, and note the Hathi  Trust and sometimes also the Google full text link within the record:

The American Indians : answers to 101 United States.  Washington, D.C. : U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1975.

Annual meeting and report of the Women's National Indian Association.  1883-18971918-1932.

The book of the Indians of North America : illustrating their manners, customs, and present state by John Frost, 1800-1859. Hartford : W.J. Hamersley, c1844.

The Crooked Tree : Indian legends of northern Michigan by John C. Wright. [Harbor Springs, Mich., J. C. Wright] [1917]

Indian Rights Association Publications.  Philadelphia, Indian Rights Association, 1885-1892.

Indian Rights Association. 2nd series.  Philadelphia, Indian Rights Association, 1893-

"The Indians of Michigan and the Cession of their Lands to the United States by Treaties", Historical Collections, Vol. 26, 1897, pp.274-297. Alpheus Felch.  Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, 1897.  A footnote states that Alpheus Felch was, “Governor of Michigan in 1846, U.S. Senator 1847-53, and 90 years of age at the writing of this article.”  The article provides a short history of each of the treaties by which the U.S. acquired Indian land in Michigan, as well as a discussion of treaty provisions, including reservations provided for the tribes. Map included.

Letter book of the Indian Agency at Fort Wayne, 1809-1815. Edited by Gayle Thornbrough. Indianapolis, Indiana Historical Society, 1961. 272pp. : The original manuscript, now in the William L. Clements Library of the University of Michigan, has title: Letters, Indian speeches and papers on Indian affairs. Most of the items were copied into the book by John Johnston and Benjamin F. Stickney.

The Saginaw Treaty of 1819 between General Lewis Cass and the Chippewa Indians...  Fred Dustin. Saginaw, MI: Saginaw Publishing 1919  This is a description of the background story of the treaty, as well as a description of the event of the signing, in which the U.S. Government obtained a large portion of south-eastern Michigan from the Native Americans.

Note :  Don't want to limit yourself to what has been loaded into the MSU Library Union Catalog?  Go ahead and click on the HathiTrust Catalog and search away.  If you want entire documents, be sure to select Full Text.

Internet Text Archives

As of March 31, 2010, the Internet Text Archives provides access to over  two million free digital texts.  The books here are divided into several sections, including books from American libraries (the largest section with 1.2 million texts), books from Canadian libraries, Open Source books, Project Gutenberg, and Children’s Library. On the right are boxes for the most popular downloads of all time, the most popular downloads of this week, and Editor’s Picks.

However, if you really want to explore, try a keyword search. If you want to do anything beyond a simple keyword search I recommend you go straight to the advanced search page; there are so many fields available to search that it’s hard to remember them all. The advanced search is easier.

Here are some sample items:

The Crooked Tree; Indian Legends of Northern MichiganJohn Couchois Wright.  Harbor Springs, MI: Wright 1917.  Nearly fifty legends are related here. A few of the story titles are:

-Origin of the Medicine Lodge
-Legend of the Sleeping Bear
-Na-na-bo-jo, the Ottawa Hiawatha
-Formation of Mackinac Island
-Outwitting a White Man
-Rapid Transit in the Early Day
-Legend of the Motchi Manitou
-Origin of the Name “Chicago”

Echoes of the Forest : American Indian Legends.  William Edgar Brown.  Boston : Badger, 1918.  A book of poetry. Brown was assisted in his research of Indian legends and folklore by members of the Michigan Historical Commission, and by faculty members at the University of Michigan.

History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan.  Andrew J. Blackbird. 1887.  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, adviser 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.

The Indian tribes of the United States: their history, antiquities, customs, religion, arts, language, traditions, oral legends, and myths. Volume 1 Henry Rowe Schoolcraft.

The Indian tribes of the United States: their history, antiquities, customs, religion, arts, language, traditions, oral legends, and myths. Volume 2.  Henry Rowe Schoolcraft.

The Indians of Washtenaw County, Michigan.  Wilbert B. Hinsdale.  Ann Arbor: Wahr 1927.   Hinsdale was the Dean of the Homeopathic Medical College at the University of Michigan and the Custodian of Michigan Archaeology in the University of Michigan Museum. This short book has just a single chapter of text that is a general discussion about Native Americans in the area of Michigan, and some broad observations about the impact of European and white American trade and settlement on Native American civilization. That chapter also includes comments about Native Americans in Southeast Michigan and Washtenaw County. The remainder of the books consists of illustrations, mostly of drawings and photos of archaeological artifacts.  The book also originally had a county map attached that showed the location of Indian trails, mounds, Indian villages and burial grounds. The map is located separately on the web. Note this comment, which was found at the website of the map: “Hinsdale carefully fudged the locations of unexcavated mounds and other valuable sites that might otherwise become a source of temptation to souvenir collectors or amateur diggers. While supposedly the maps reflected everything the Professor knew, the actual locations may have been several degrees — or perhaps miles — off to one side or the other.”  Also see accompaning map.

Inquiries, Respecting the History, Traditions, Languages, Manners, Customs, Religion,&c. of the Indians, Living within the United States.  Lewis Cass. Detroit: Sheldon & Reed 1823.  The first part is a 30-page pamphlet consisting of questions to which answers should be sought in studying Indian tribal life. Subjects of the questions include traditions, government, war, peace, death, birth, marriage, family government, social relations, medicine, astronomy, mathematics, music and poetry, religion, general manners and customs, food, mode of living, cooking, meals, games, dances, amusements etc. etc. The second part was originally a separate pamphlet, entitled “Additional Inquiries Respecting the Indian languages”.

Kitchi-Gami: Wanderings Round Lake Superior. Johann Georg Kohl.  London: Chapman & Hall 1860.  A reviewer wrote that this is “…the best book on the Lake Superior country.” Another called it “…one of the most exhaustive and valuable treatises on Indian life ever written”. The author traveled among people of the Ojibway (Ojibwa, Chippewa) tribe along the shores of Lake Michigan, observing and collecting information. A few of the very numerous and diverse topics he addressed are: The Indian Agent, face painting, the canoe (use and construction), Indian dogs, medicine bag, a palaver, Indian generosity and hospitality, sports and pastimes, Hiawatha, death of a child, polygamy, Indian geography, the fur trade, symbolic writing, Catholic missionaries, the path of the dead, Ojibway songs, and snow shoes. He relates numerous Indian legends.

The Land of the Potawatomi.  Elmore Barce.  1919.

The Land of the Potawatomi, volume 2.  Elmore Barce. 1919.

Legends of Michigan and the Old Northwest....  Flavius J. Littlejohn.  Allegan, MI: Northwestern Bible. 1875.  This 570-page volume consists of stories collected from Native American oral traditions by the author, during his 40 years of explorations in Western Michigan as a surveyor and geologist. Story titles are:

-The Shawnee and Pottowatomie War; or, The Michigan Scouts of 1800-1
-The Triple Alliance and Final Great Battle of Three Rivers
-The Sauk, Fox and Chippewa Raid; or, The Michigan Scouts of 1803
-Ou-Wan-A-Ma-Che and Mo-Kish-E-No-Qua; or, The Native Saginaw Maidens of 1804
-Alice and Effie; or, The Captive White Maidens of the Huron River
-Star Light and Red Hand; or, The Discarded Ojibway Wife and Son
-The Chippewa Raid on Green Bay; or, Red Wing the Sauk Chief
-The Campaign of Tippecanoe; or, The Michigan Scouts of 1811

Tribes frequently mentioned within were: Chippewa, Fox (Ontogamies), Huron, Miami, Mingo, Ojibway, Ottawa, Pewanigo, Pottowatomie, Sauks, Shawnee, Shiawasso, Wakisho.

The Ottawan : a Short History of the Villages and Resorts Surrounding Little Traverse Bay, and the Indian Legends Connected TherewithJohn Couchois Wright.  Lansing: Smith 1895.  This is about the Ottawa tribe of Native Americans. In addition to the locations in the title, Beaver Island and Emmett County are also covered.

The Potawatomi Indians by Otho Winger.  Elgin, Illinois : Elgin Press, 1939. Digitized by the Internet Archivein 2012 with funding from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Sketches of Indian LifeFrederick Frost.  Toronto: Briggs 1904.  Frost was for thirty years a missionary to the Ojibway Indians of Garden River and the Manitoulin Islands and the north shore of Lake Huron and Lake Superior. He was fluent in the Ojibway language.

The Song of Hiawatha.   Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  NY: Maynard, Merrill 1855.  Longfellow was one of the country’s most respected poets when he became interested in Indian lore. He read the books of Henry Schoolcraft on legends and stories of the Indians. This epic poem was set largely on the Upper Peninsula shore of Lake Superior. It was enormously popular, going through 125 editions, including translations into almost every European language.

When Michigan Was New.  Hulda Theodate Hollands.  Chicago: Flanagan 1906.  Some of the topics covered in this early history of Michigan seem to be randomly selected, but the focus of the majority of the book is on Native Americans in Michigan.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg provides access to electronic texts of many works on Native Americans.

Check out the Native American Bookshelf.

American Indian Law Collection

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 800 titles and 750,000 pages. Click here for more information.

Indians of North America

A compilation of open access books about Indians of North America.

Also see Native Americans in the History of the Great Lakes, a similar compilation of open access books.

Subject Guide

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