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HI 374 - Special Topics: Native American History


This guide is designed to tie in with the class assignment to prepare a presentation on the history of a Native American tribe or culture group. Start your research by exploring the reference books listed below, which contain a great deal of information on the history, culture, and religious beliefs of different tribes. Be sure to check the library catalog for relevant books and search the history and full-text databases for useful journal articles. Finally, supplement these "secondary" sources about the tribes with primary source materials that provide a firsthand perspective on Native American life, including records of their interactions with the government.


Research Basics

The reference librarians have created a group of Web pages named Research Help to help teach you the basics of library research and to introduce you to Geisel Library. On the Research Help pages, you will find a guide on Research Basics and a helpful guide on Evaluating Web Resources.  Please take advantage of these resources.


Background & Reference

To get started, look through the Handbook of North American Indians to choose a Native American tribe or cultural group to research. This 17-volume work (located in the Reference Area at call number E77 .H25) is organized by region and provides excellent scholarly overviews of the history, culture, and language of North American Indian tribes.

Other works in the Reference collection can provide additional background information on Native American tribal history and life, acquainting you with key issues and figures in your tribe's history. Use reference materials to find keywords or names for further searching; for example, the names of important leaders, treaties, or cultural artifacts.

Be sure to examine the bibliographies at the end of reference book entries, which will point you to additional books and journal articles on your tribe. Many of these will be in our collection, but if the "perfect" book/article is not here at Geisel, don't hesitate to request it from another library through our Interlibrary Loan service. Articles often arrive within 3-4 days, while books generally arrive within 1-2 weeks.

Encyclopedias & Handbooks

Encyclopaedia Britannica online access
Useful for a quick overview

Encyclopedia of Indians of the Americas
     Ref E54.5 .E52

Encyclopedia of American Indian Contributions to the World:
15,000 Years of Inventions and Innovations
     Ref E54.5 .K46

Encyclopedia of North American Indians
     Ref E76.2 .E53

Handbook of the American Frontier: Four Centuries of
Indian-White Relationships
     Ref E76.2 .H43

MacMillan Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes
     Ref E76.2 .J63

Handbook of North American Indians, 17 vols.
     Ref E77 .H25

History Reference

The American Indian and the United States: A Documentary History
     On Reserve E93 .W27 (4 vols.)
     Check this compendium for legal decisions, treaties, laws, and
     Congressional debates (primary sources) related to your tribe

Chronology of Native North American History
     On Reserve E77 .C555

Dictionary of American History
     Ref E174 .D52

Encyclopedia of the United States in the 19th Century
     Ref E169.1 .E626


Check these to identify books and articles that pertain to the tribe that
you are researching.

Native Americans: An Annotated Bibliography
     Ref E77 .H68

Native Americans: Social, Economic and Political Aspects: Bibliography
     Ref E77 .N67

Native American Woman: Social, Economic and Political Aspects: Bibliography
     Ref E98 .W8 N67

Arts, Culture, and Literature

Contemporary Native American Literature: A Selected Bibliography
     Ref PS153 .I52 J3

Dictionary of Art, vol. 22 (essay on Native North American Art)
     Ref N31 .D5

Dictionary of Native American Literature
     Ref PM155 .D53


Atlas of the North American Indian
     On Reserve E77 .W195

Religion and Philosophy

Encyclopedia of Native American Religions
     Ref E98 .R3 H73

Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Provides full text entries and links to other sites and resources on the web.


American at War: Society, Culture and the Homefront
     Ref E181 .A453

CQ Researcher
Look for reports by topic: see Indians of North America, or Indian Affairs,
U.S. Bureau of
, or use the Search query.

Encyclopedia of American Social History
     Ref HN57 .E58

Encyclopedia of American Social Movements
     Ref HN57 .E594

Encyclopedia of Multiculturalism, 6 vols.
     Ref E184 .A1 E58


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Find Books

The library has an excellent collection in the area of Native American history and culture, including books about most North American tribes. Since this topic for this project is well-defined, we recommend starting with Subject searches. You may also wish to do keyword searches on the names of Native American leaders, famous battles, or cultural artifacts (e.g., the Ghost Dance), which might turn up additional resources.

To locate books about Native Americans in general, which may contain chapters or sections about your tribe, try searching some the following subject headings in the online catalog. You may also find other good subject headings by doing a subject search for Indian and browsing the headings.

Indians of North America
Indians of North America - Biography
Indians of North America - History
Indians of North America - Religion
Indians, Treatment of - United States
Indian mythology - North America
Indian women - North America

For books specific to your Native American tribe, be sure to search on the primary subject heading for that particular tribe. These headings all take the following form:

(Tribe Name) Indians
[Examples: Cherokee Indians, Kiowa Indians, Navajo Indians]

Some tribes will also have additional subjects, such as Navajo Philosophy or Pueblo Gods. Doing a subject search on the tribe name (e.g., Pueblo) will enable you to browse all the pertinent headings and thereby find all the books about your tribe that are owned by the library.


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Find Articles

To start looking for scholarly articles about your Native American tribe in an index or database, try searching these keywords in conjunction with the tribe's name, depending upon the type of information you're interested in. For example, type: Choctaw AND





Medical Care

Social Change












Environmental Policy

Social Histories

You should also try searching for historical figures, battles, or events that you uncovered in the reference books. Once you find relevant articles, examine their subject headings (also called descriptors) and conduct Subject/Descriptor searches on the ones that seem most potentially fruitful. Also, read the bibliographies of articles to identify additional sources worth tracking down. Many will be in the library collection, but others can easily be requested via Interlibrary Loan from other libraries.

Journal Databases

America: History & Life
The best place to start. It provides abstracts to journal articles, book/media reviews, and dissertations with a focus on United States and Canadian history and culture from prehistoric times to the present.

Academic Search Premier
A broad index providing abstracts and some full-text for a range of academic areas, including history.

History Cooperative
This resource for historical research offers full-text articles from several key journals and conference proceedings, as well as providing historian's links and historical map collections. (Most, but not all, titles are accessible).  Tips for Effective Searching

JSTOR provides the full text of back issues of major journals in the humanities and social sciences.
Journal list for:    Arts & Sciences I      Arts & Sciences II      Biological Sciences

Making of America - Cornell University
Making of America - University of Michigan
This digital library provides scanned images of the actual pages from primary sources in American social history, from the antebellum period through reconstruction. Collectively, these sites provide access to thousands of digitized books and journal articles, many of which relate to Native Americans or specific tribes.

Project MUSE
"Project MUSE provides online, worldwide, institutional subscription access to the full text of more than 200 scholarly journals in arts and humanities, social sciences, and mathematics."  Journal List

SocINDEX with Full Text is a comprehensive sociology research database. It will contain articles related to Native American community, culture, and social change.

Newspaper Databases

These can offer contemporaneous perspectives on major developments in Native American tribe history, such as treaties and battles. Articles written at the time of historical events can be regarded as primary source material.

Early American Newspapers, 1690-1876
"Early American Newspapers features cover-to-cover reproductions of hundreds of historic newspapers, providing more than one million pages as fully text-searchable facsimile images."

Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe
Find full-text newspaper articles from local, national and international papers. This may be useful for learning about recent developments with particular tribes.

New York Times
"The New York Times (1851-2003) offers full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue. The collection includes digital reproductions providing access to every page from every available issue."


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Selected Websites

These websites were handpicked for their relevance to your project. You may also want to conduct keyword searching specific to your tribe in a search engine such as Google, but be sure to look for indications that the site's information is authoritative, objective and reliable. You might also search for an official website of the modern-day tribe, which will offer insight into current issues confronting them.


American Indian Resources (University of Osaka)
A large library of weblinks organized by categories such as texts, culture, history, and literature. Also includes a huge listing of links to dictionaries and language guides for a number of Native American languages.

American Indians of the Pacific Northwest (Univ. of Washington)
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.

Native American Resources on the Internet
A comprehensive web portal to online Native American resources, grouped by category. Be sure to check the extensive Electronic Texts page for primary sources and contemporaneous periodical articles about your tribe.

Native American Sites (American Indian Library Association)
Links to home pages of individual Native American tribes, organizations, tribal colleges, media, powwows, and more.


American Historical Images On File - The Native American Experience
A comprehensive collection of historical images of Native American people. Arranged chronologically from the prehistoric period and the Paleo-Indians to 1990. Narratives provide historical and cultural background describing the event, person, or subject presented.

A searchable database of more than 300,000 digital images and associated catalog data. ARTstor includes nearly 10,000 images of Native American people and artifacts from a wide range of tribes, taken from the National Anthropological Archives at the Smithsonian Institution. Limit your search to the Native American Art and Cultures collection, then try typing in the name of a tribe or famous leader.

Indian Peoples of the Northern Great Plains
An online database of photographs that can be searched by tribe. Photos were drawn from collections at universities and museums in Montana.

The North American Indian: Edward S. Curtis The North American Indian: Edward S. Curtis (Northwestern)
Digital collection of The North American Indian, by Edward S. Curtis. The twenty volumes of photographs, 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.

Primary Sources

Traditional primary sources such as diaries and journals are uncommon among Native American tribes due to their tradition of transmitting their tribal and personal history orally rather than through the written word. For many tribes, there are transcriptions or audio recordings of oral histories available on the Web; these can be found by appropriate keyword searches. Most of the sites below concentrate on documents reflecting the interaction between American Indians and the U.S. government.

American Native Press Archives
In addition to maintaining a massive print collection of Native American newspapers, periodicals, and literature, the ANPA has created this digital library containing selected prose and literary writings of Native Americans.

Kappler's Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties (Oklahoma State)
This is a digitized version of a famous seven-volume compilation of U.S. treaties, laws, and executive orders related to Native Americans, for the period 1778-1970. The volumes can be browsed or searched.

Native American Documents Project (California State Univ, San Marcos)
Contains reports of the Bureau of Indian Affairs from the 1870s, along with full text of the Dawes and Burke Acts pertaining to reservation allotments.

Relations Between The United States and Native Americans (Avalon Project)
As part of its massive digital Avalon Project, Yale has compiled this website housing online versions of U.S. statutes, treaties, and other government documents relating to Native Americans. The focus is on the 18th and 19th centuries. Documents can be browsed or searched by keyword.


American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) Data and Links (U.S. Census Bureau)
This comprehensive page of links offers over 130 tables on American Indian population numbers and characteristics by nation, region, division, and state, as well as numerous tables and maps by tribe. Population estimates and projections are given up to the year 2025.

American Indian and Alaska Native Populations
This page links to the Census's special report ("We the People: American Indians and Alaska Natives in the U.S.") on the housing, languages, educational attainment, socioeconomic characteristics of selected tribes in the year 2000. Summary tables are also available from the 1990 Census.

American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes for the United States, Regions, Divisions, and States
Data from the 2000 Census on the numbers and percent distributions of Native Americans by tribe. Tables are available for individual states, regions, and the country as a whole.

Extra Census Bulletins: 1890 (Census Bureau)
At the bottom of this page are special Census reports compiled in 1890 on several major Native American tribes, including the Cherokee, Seminole, Mohawk, and Pueblo among others.


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Citing Sources

See the library's Citing Sources guide for resources on how to properly cite research materials. Always confirm the style required by your instructor.


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Book cover image for Encyclopedia of American Indian Contributions to the World

Fr. William J. Sullivan

Library Liaison
Jeff Waller

Research Basics
Background & Reference
   • Encyclopedias & Handbooks
   • History Reference
   • Bibliographies
   • Arts, Culture, and Literature
   • Maps
   • Religion & Philosophy
   • Sociology
Find Books
Find Articles
   • Journal Databases
   • Newspaper Databases
Selected Websites
   • General
   • Images
   • Primary Sources
   • Statistics
Citing Sources

Subject Guide