Native American resources: Sites for online research

Erica Swenson Danowitz; Carol Videon

Many terms have been used to denote the first settlers of America, including First Peoples, Indigenous Peoples of America, Original Americans, Indians of North America, First Nations, and Native Americans (an increasingly popular term first used around 1960 in an effort to avoid negative stereotypes). This group is multiethnic and contains many subgroups—more than 500 individual tribes. The Europeans (often considered enemies of the Indians) named some of these individual tribes, like Iroquois and Sioux. Upon seeing Native Americans, Columbus used the word los Indios to describe them because he thought he had found the western route to India. Although Columbus was actually in the Caribbean, this erroneous term remained. The Library of Congress uses “Indians of North America” as a subject heading. Many Native Americans use “Indian.”1 Therefore Indian and Native American will be used interchangeably. Numerous Internet resources exist that support not only the study of Native Americans and their diverse culture, but also to assist their culture and well-being. This list of sites for this article mainly focuses on the study of Native American history and culture. We have also included a few Canadian sites and governmental agencies.

Meta sites

  • American Indian History and Other Sites. Troy Johnson, professor of American Indian Studies at California State University, maintains this site that provides a rich array of links to sites related to Native Americans, including education, historical, and tribal links. It includes unique artwork, photographs, video, and sound recordings of the Native Americans in North America and also includes Indian people of Central America and Mexico. Access:
  • Digital Librarian—American Indian Studies. Compiled by a librarian, this site provides links to a variety of information related to Indians in the United States, Canada, and Latin America. It includes links to digital texts, images, history resources, and regional information. Access:
  • Encyclopedia Smithsonian—American Indian History and Culture. As part of the Encyclopedia Smithsonian series, this online encyclopedia links to resources on agriculture, economics, religion, and culture. There is also an extensive list of recommended readings on an eclectic array of topics. Access:
  • Index of Native American Resources on the Internet. Despite some distracting advertisements, this site offers links related to a variety of topics, including gaming, education, law, health, and a blog that is not updated frequently but does discuss new resources related to Native Americans. A lot of these resources will help both Native American populations and researchers. Access:
  • Native North America. This site includes tribal information for both the United States and Canada. It also provides links to language, news, television, and film sites. Access:
  • NativeWeb: Resources for Indigenous Cultures around the World. Resources include information on indigenous peoples from all areas of the world and include resources related to genealogy, sports, travel, festivals, and food. There are also links to book, video, and music resources. Organizations sponsored by NativeWeb are linked on this site. An announcement e-mail list with occasional messages related to native peoples is also available by entering an e-mail address. Access:

Art and literature

  • Association for the Study of American Indian Literature (ASAIL). In an effort to support the study of American Indian Literature, this association’s home page offers links to bibliographies, syllabi to courses in Native American Indian Literature courses, and access to archived copies of the ASAIL’s newsletter dating back to 1973. Teaching aids, including handouts and lesson plans for Native American literature, are also included. Access:
  • Native American Authors—Internet Public Library (IPL). Mainly providing information on contemporary Native American authors, this IPL site contains bibliographies, biographical information and links to interviews, online texts and tribal Web sites. Resources are organized by author, title, and tribal name. Access:
  • Native Art Network. This commercial site showcases the work of Native American artists. It also offers links to art show information, tribes, news, and travel information. Artist pages include photos of featured artwork, and they frequently include an artist’s biography. Access:
  • Native Peoples Magazine. The online version of the print magazine that covers the arts and cultural lives of Native Americans. Access:
  • Native Tech: Native American Technology and Art. A resource rich in information related to all aspects of Native American art, including beadwork, pottery, games, toys, food, and leatherwork. The site includes articles and links to poetry, stories, recipes, and a tour of a woodland homestead. Many photos and other images accompany the subjects featured. The focus of this site is on Eastern Woodland Indian peoples but information on tribes from other regions is also available. Access:
  • Surrounded by Beauty—Arts of Native America. ArtsConnectEd, an art teaching tool created by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, sponsors this Web site that highlights the arts of Native Americans in the United States. Organized into five different regions, this site provides tribal information, historical information, and photos of art objects that allow users to click on them and explore the objects in depth. Access:


  • Native Languages of the Americas—Preserving and Promoting American Indian Languages. There are more than 800 surviving Native American languages linked to more than 800 tribes in North, Central, and South America. This nonprofit site addresses all of them with informative learning aids like maps locating the tribes in each state, picture dictionaries, pronunciation guides, grants, and much more. Occasionally resources for teachers (such as word search puzzles) are included. Unfortunately the advertisements on each site are distracting, but the quality and quantity of information is worth scrolling past the commercial ads. Access:
  • Sacred Texts—Native American Religions. To learn about Native American religion, mythology, legends, and folklore, use this massive archive of transcriptions of public domain texts recorded by ethnographers of the 19th and 20th century. One can search for specific titles or scroll through the index, which is arranged by geographic area and specific tribes. Some of the fairy tale books for children include beautiful lithographs. Access:

Digital archives

  • American Native Press Archives. This site, supported by the Sequoyah Research Center housed at the University of Arkansas, “provides research materials documenting all aspects of life” among Native Americans. It provides a comprehensive collection of newspapers, periodicals, and other publications, including a digital library of poems and other prose written by Native Americans. Access:
  • American Philosophical Society: Images of Native Americans. More than 1,000 images, engravings, photographs, and watercolors are viewable and searchable online depicting ceremonial dress, totems, cooking utensils, formal photographs of chiefs from various tribes, including Cheyenne and Cherokee, as well as candid pictures. Access:
  • Edward S. Curtis’s: The North American Indian. Curtis was an American photographer who in the early part of the 20th century travelled the United States and photographed Native Americans to document their culture. He published the photographs in a book entitled The North American Indian (1907-1930). This digital collection presents all 2,228 photographs from this work. The Web site warns that many of the images are captioned with text written from a late 19th-century Euro-American perspective that considered Native Americans as primitive and a “vanishing race.” Despite some of the dated text, this resource still succeeds in presenting Native American culture from the Great Plains westward, including the Southwest, the Pacific Northwest, and Alaska. Photos are grouped by subject and geographic region for easier browsing. Access:
  • Images of Native Americans. The Bancroft Library at the University of California-Berkeley created this online site as a digital companion to an exhibit. It contains digital images of color plate illustrations, color photographs, and documents that not only present European interpretations of Native Americans but also early anthropological studies. A timeline of the materials found in the collection allows users to view them chronologically. Access:


  • American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC). Thirty-seven tribal colleges in 14 states were created to foster higher education for Indians living on reservations or in geographically isolated regions and to promote tribal self-determination. Locations, chartering tribes, and accreditation status are listed. Access:


  • American Indian Health. The National Library of Medicine generated this portal consisting of links to consumer health, medical resources, policies, research studies, and more. Specific medical conditions as related to American Indians include cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and substance abuse. Traditional healing methods are included like herbal medicines, massage, healing ceremonies, and spirituality, as well as allopathic treatments. Information on clinical trials, health organizations, and directories can be found here. Access:
  • Indian Health Service. Under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services this site was created for American Indians and Native Alaskans. It includes fact sheets on specific diseases, medical programs (delivered on site and via telemedicine), searchable directories of clinics, and research projects. Access:


  • Indians in the War. The Navy Department Library created this site, which highlights Indian contributions to WWII including the Code Talkers, pictures, honors and medals, role in the Navy, POWs, and the contributions of the Indian women. Links to other wars are included. Access:
  • Native American Heritage Month. The Bureau of Indian Affairs sponsors this site, which has a rich collection of images, paintings, historic places, and Webcasts including Hoop Dancing, storytelling, authors discussing their prize-winning books, and lectures. Access:
  • Native American Voices—Digital History. Part of the digital history series sponsored by the Departments of History and the College of Education at the University of Houston, this resource was created to support the teaching of American History in K–12 schools and colleges. It provides information from textbooks, primary sources and other documents. The site is organized in chronological order and then by document type. The textbook section introduces the topic and provides an overview of Native American History from their beginnings to contemporary times. Access:
  • Western History Collections—University of Oklahoma. This extensive collection of materials relating to the history of the American West and Native American cultures includes the Doris Duke Collection of American Indian Oral History and the Indian Pioneer Papers. The former aims to preserve the history, culture, religion, folk history, and philosophy of Indians; interviews were conducted from 1967 to 1972, which coincide with the end of the Reservation Period. Individuals from more than 30 tribes in Oklahoma provide their oral testimony. Indian-white relations, famous battles, ceremonies, missionary activities, schooling, tribal government, and warfare are included—all from the Indian perspective. The Indian Papers contain oral interviews also with inhabitants of the Indian Territory (Indians and whites) during the 1930s. The collection includes biographies and general topics, such as slavery, dances, medicine, legends, Civil War, and daily life. The tribes located mainly in what is Oklahoma today were Seminole, Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee, and Chickasaw. These transcripts are searchable by name, place, or subject. Access:


  • The Avalon Project at Yale Law School. As part of Yale University’s Law School’s Avalon project, this site provides the full-text of treaties between the United States and Native Americans dating back to 1778 until the 19th century. Access:
  • Indian Affairs Laws and Treaties. Charles J. Kappler compiled this primary source of Indian Treaties. Seven volumes of Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties (United States Government Treaties (volume II) and laws and executive orders (volumes I, III–VII) from 1778 to 1970) have been digitized to provide the most comprehensive source for permanent laws related to Indian affairs. The index is fully searchable. Access:
  • Native American Constitution and Law Digitization project. A joint project of the University of Oklahoma Law Center, the National Indian Law Library, and various Native American tribes, this site provides access to constitutions, tribal codes, and other documents, including treaties and research guides. It also includes the full-text of the Handbook of Federal Indian Law published in 1941 and links to other related sites. Access:

Other organizations (including government sites and museums)

  • American Indian Library Association. The Web site for this ALA affiliate provides links to resources that include publications, bibliographies, electronic texts, and online image collections. This site also has resources that can assist librarians in creating Native American collections and that support Native American populations. Access:
  • Assembly of First Nations (Canada AFN).The AFN, a national Canadian organization produces this site, which provides information related to the Canadian First Nations including reports, conference proceedings, and links to other Canadian tribes. Access:
  • BIA: Bureau of Indian Affairs. BIA was established in 1824 to provide services, such as land management, education, social services, job training, and administration of tribal courts. Historically, this agency had adopted controversial policies that have included suppression of Indian rights, cultural genocide, and policing responsibilities. However, today, they have moved from a supervisory role to an advisory role and have hired Indians within their ranks. While approximately 570 tribes are recognized, the criteria exclude some bands. Access:
  • National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). The official Web site for this Smithsonian museum has links to online exhibitions, teaching aides, research information, and audio recordings. Access:
  • Native American and Indigenous Studies Association ( Founded in 2008, NAISA “is a professional organization dedicated to supporting scholars and others who work in the academic field of Native American and Indigenous studies.” This site supports this mission by providing news articles, blog postings, and other documents that support the study of Native Americans. Access:
  • Office of Native American Affairs - Small Business Administration. Part of the U.S. Small Business Administration, this site provides assistance and resources to Native Americans who seek to create or expand a small business. Resources include a primer, online training, news highlights, and a Native American business locator. Access:


  • Canyon Records-Native American Music Featured Artist Podcast. Since 1951, Canyon Records has produced Native American music. All genres of music are featured in their recordings, including pow-wow, flute, healing songs, traditional, round dance, and Native American church (Peyote). The podcasts feature interviews with Native American recording artists and their music. Access:
  • National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) Podcasts. NMAI produces podcasts for a variety of topics, including landscape architecture, festivals and other cultural events that are hosted by museum staff, artists, and other experts. Access:

Tribal information

  • Aboriginal Canada Portal. Produced by the government of Canada, this site offers resources on the First Nations (Canadian Indian tribes) including statistics, timelines, maps, and regional information organized by Canadian province. Access:
  • American Indian Resource Directory. This directory, created by the American Indian Heritage Foundation, is organized by region and lists all the federally recognized American Indian Tribes. Access:
  • American Indians of the Pacific Northwest. This Library of Congress digital collection provides online access to more than 2,300 photographs and 7,700 pages of text relating to the American Indians in the Pacific Northwest. Many of these resources, including maps and essays, link to other collections found at the University of Washington libraries and other organizations of the Pacific Northwest. Many aspects of life and work are showcased in this collection. Access:
  • Indian Peoples of the Northern Great Plains. The Montana State University Library created this online searchable photograph database. Many of the images are located in Montana but other Great Plain regions are also represented. It includes drawings, treaties, and prints that are unique to this collection. Access:
  • Native American Home Pages. Created by a former librarian and Choice editor, this site provides links to Native American Nations, organizations, and other information related to Native Americans, including media, language, and business. Access:
  • Southeastern Native American Documents Collection. The Digital Library of Georgia has put approximately 2,000 documents and images online relating to the Native American population of the Southeastern United States. The searchable database contains documents that include letters, legal proceedings, military orders, financial papers, and archaeological images. Access:

1. Calloway, C.G.. , First peoples: A documentary survey of American Indian history (New York: Bedford), 2008 .
Copyright © 2010 Erica Swenson Danowitz and Carol Videon

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