This guide is designed to get you started in researching American Indian History. Resources come in three basic categories: tertiary, secondary, and primary.

Tertiary sources are reference materials, such as encyclopedias or handbooks that are a good starting point in selecting your topic, gaining clarity, or in determining alternate names for a particular tribe or event.

Secondary sources are sources which were created by someone who did not experience first-hand specific events or conditions. These usually include books and journal articles.

Primary sources are those written as first-hand accounts by persons that experienced a specific time or conditions. These can include things such as letters, travel logs, speeches, and even artwork and videos. When studying American Indians, much of the primary sources of the 19th century and earlier will be from the perspective of Whites, as American Indian languages were not yet written.
Tertiary Sources
Use the below links, or do a keyword search in OBIS.
Encyclopedia of American Indian History, Barry M. Pritzker and Bruce E. Johansen (2008): This comprehensive ebook covers American Indian history from various angles including chronological periods, issues, events, culture, and governments.
50 events that shaped American Indian history: an encyclopedia of the American mosaic, Donna Martinez and Jennifer L. Williams Bordeaux, eds. (2017)
Although focused on fifty seminal events, this electronic resource is a rich source of information, with long essays, many by native authors.
Handbook of North American Indians, Smithsonian (1978-1996), (print)
Originally published in 1900, this 17-volume set was produced by the Smithsonian.
Encyclopedia of American Indian issues today, Russell M. Lawson (2013) 
This far reaching ebook covers issues in contemporary Indian Country, including people and places, economy and work, learning, literacy and languages, health, ideas and identity, sovereignty, law, expression, environment, and other aboriginal peoples.
Encyclopedia of the American Indian Movement, Bruce E. Johansen (2013) (print)
An essential resource for studying the AIM movement that began in the 1960’s & 70s.
Tertiary Sources- Try this!
Sometimes what a tribe or band called themselves and what they became known as were very different. Often, early written records contained the name used by an enemy. For example, according to this article “Native American Self-Names” by Elizabeth Pauls (2008) in Encyclopedia Britannica, Sioux is from Nadouessioux, which means adder or snake in an enemy language.
In order to find alternate names for a tribe or an event  you are studying, look in the index of Pritzker and Johansen's (2008) Encyclopedia of American Indian History to find “See also” references. Use this list to expand your research!
Secondary source search strategies
Is it American Indian or Native American? Both!

Keyword searches are flexible and find a word anywhere in a library record. To use them in a catalog like OBIS, or a database, include terms such as American Indian, Native American, or First Nations. Searches for tribes should be for any variation of the name. 
Subject headings were structured by a person and can be more targeted. 
Secondary Sources- Reviews of Resources
American Indian History is a vast field covering over 500 different tribes, so to include a list of the top secondary sources would be seemingly infinite. As a researcher, you will need to be able to evaluate the quality of a resource. These first two tools help you accomplish that:
H-Net Reviews: H-Net Reviews in the Humanities and Social Sciences is an online resource that houses scholarly reviews. You can browse, or search for a specific topic or title.
Reviews in History: This UK site contains review of both books and digital resources in all fields of history, including American Indian.
Secondary Sources- Databases
America: History and Life Restricted Resource
Index to research on the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. Indexes articles and book reviews from more than 1,700 journals published in more than 40 languages. Dates of Coverage: 1964 to date

American National Biography Restricted Resource
Biographical information on tens of thousands of prominent Americans.  Entries are signed by the authors and include bibliographic references.

Anthropology Plus Restricted Resource
Citations for journal articles, reports, commentaries, and edited works, in social, cultural, physical, biological, and linguistic anthropology, ethnology, archaeology, folklore, and material culture.

Includes records from Anthropological Literature (Harvard University) and the Anthropological Index (Royal Anthropological Institute).

Dates of Coverage: Late 19th c. to date

Bibliography of Native North Americans Restricted Resource
Index of books, essays, journal articles, and government documents from the U.S. and Canada, covering native North American history and culture.

Environment Complete Restricted Resource Some full text available
Covers agriculture, ecosystem ecology, energy, natural resources, pollution & waste management, environmental technology, environmental law, public policy, social impacts, urban planning, and conference papers of the North American Association of Environmental Education.

Historical Abstracts Restricted Resource
Index to thousands of academic journals covering world history (excluding the US and Canada) from 1450 to present, in over 40 languages, with full-text available. Dates of Coverage: 1955 to date
Secondary Sources- Books
Due to the diversity of tribes and events, there is no core secondary sources which capture all of American Indian History. The following books are seminal in American Indian History, and would be recognized by most scholars in the field. To find the best books on a specific tribe or topic try the review services above, or try a Google search for “best books on TRIBE NAME history.” Look for reviews, or for lists compiled by history scholars or academic history departments.

Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England (2003): A classic in environmental history, this anniversary edition of a 1983 book provides interpretation of the changing circumstances in New England's plant and animal communities that occurred with the shift from Indian to European dominance, and shows how the land and the people influenced one another, in shaping New England's communities.

The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815, Richard White (2011): Considered a classic, this anniversary edition of a 1991 book looks at Indian White relations as a process of accommodation, finding a “middle ground.”
God is Red, Vine Deloria (2003): This 30th anniversary edition by a renown Indian author, discusses not only American Indian identity and religion, but, important to historians- tackles the concept of history, and the spatial problem of history from an Indian perspective.
Black Elk Speaks, John G. Neihart (2014): Reprint of a beloved ethnographic work, which chronicles the life and philosophy of Lakota visionary Nicholas Black Elk, at the end of the 19th century.
Browsing instead of searching
If you prefer to browse, (looking at books on the shelf) rather than search, knowing the Library of Congress call numbers is helpful. Here are some that apply to the field.
• E51-61 PreColumbian America           
• E71 North America (north of Mexico)
• E73-74 Mound Builders.  Indians of North America
• E75-E77 (Periodicals, Collections, Dictionaries, Directories,
Guide to Tribes, Study and Teaching, Research, Historiography,
General Works)
• E78 (By state, province, region, A-Z)
• E81-87 (Indian Wars and captivities)
• E89-90 (Biography)
• E91-93 (Government relations)
• E95 Treaties
• E96-97 (Education)
• E98 (By special topic, A-Z)
e.g., E98.A7 = Art; E98.E2 = Economic Conditions; E98.R3 = Religion, Mythology; E98. S7, Social life and customs; E98 .W8, Women
• E99 (By tribe, A-Z)
Researching Primary Sources
Primary Sources, as discussed in the Overview, are first-hand accounts written by individuals who experienced a certain time, place, or event. For early Native American history, these resources will be written from the perspective of Whites, as Indian languages were not yet written. Some examples of types include letters, travel logs, missionary records, government documents, and even artwork. Primary sources can be found in the catalog, in databases, online, and in archives.

Try This!

A valuable hint for searching  for primary sources in a catalog like OBIS is to use “Advanced” search to do a keyword (Any Field) search for your topic, adding a SUBJECT search for “sources.”

For more information:

Learn more about finding, evaluating, and using primary sources. The Reference and User Services Association is a trusted branch of the American Library Association.
Primary Sources
Search for primary sources in these resources. Remember that much of what you find will not be from a non-Indian perspective. Start with a simple keyword search, and then try some of the search strategies provided here in OBIS. Also look for tips in each database, as searching and limiting can vary from the catalog, and from database to database. Look for “help” screens, sometimes marked with a “?” or use “Ask-A-Librarian” if it is available

Early Encounters in North America Restricted Resource Some full text available Resource contains images
Letters, diaries, memoirs and accounts of early encounters between Native Americans and peoples from Europe, as well as Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

Indigenous Peoples: North America Restricted Resource Resource contains images
Digital archive of diverse source material pertaining to the histories of Indigenous peoples and their intersections with European peoples in North America.  Sources include manuscripts, monographs, newspapers, photographs, motion pictures, images of artwork, and more

American Periodicals (1740-1940) Restricted Resource Some full text available
Scanned periodicals published between 1740 and 1940, including special interest and general magazines, literary and professional journals, children's and women's magazines and more.]

Chronicling America: Historical American Newspapers Unrestricted Resource Some full text available
A collection of freely accessible historical American newspapers from all regions of the United States, developed by the Library of Congress.  Dates of coverage: 1836-1922

European Views of the Americas (1493-1750) Restricted Resource
Based on the bibligraphy “European Americana: A Chronological Guide to Works Printed In Europe Relating to The Americas, 1493-1750” from the John Carter Brown Library.

Independent Voices: An Open Access Collection of an Alternative Press Unrestricted Resource Some full text available
Alternative press magazines, journals, newsletters, and newspapers; includes feminist publications, small literary magazines, LGBT periodicals, the GI press, and campus underground sources. Dates of coverage:  1960s through 1980s

Eighteenth Century Collections Online Restricted Resource Some full text available
Scans of over 200,000 volumes published in English (mainly in the UK) in the 18th century, based on the English Short Title Catalogue. Dates of Coverage: 1701 to 1800

Nineteenth Century Collections Online Restricted Resource Some full text available Resource contains images
Collections include: British politics and society; European literature 1790-1840: the Corvey Collection;  Asia and the West: Diplomacy and cultural exchange;  British theatre, music, and literature: high and popular culture.

American Memory
From the Library of Congress, extensive digital collection that includes written works as well as images.

National Museum of the American Indian
Links to the museum’s extensive digital collections which include objects, writings, and photographs.

American Indian Oral History: Doris Duke Collection
Transcripts of hundreds of interviews of Indians conducted 1967-1972.

Edward Curtis Collection
Extensive collection of early 20th Century photographs of American Indians by renown photographer and ethnographer Edward Curtis.

19th Century U.S. Newspapers Restricted Resource Some full text available
Full text searchable articles representing most US states. Includes searchable page scans of the originals. Dates of Coverage: 1800-1899  

American West Restricted Resource Some full text available Resource contains images
Includes manuscripts, maps, rare printed sources, ephemera, and images that document the history of the western United States.

ARTstor Restricted Resource Resource contains images
Over 1 million images selected to support research and reaching in art history from pre-historical to contemporary media.

Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans (1639-1800) Restricted Resource Some full text available
Full-text, searchable scans of source material of all types from the 17th and 18th centuries; an important resource for primary information about every aspect of life in 17th- and 18th-century America.

Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker (1801-1819) Restricted Resource Some full text available
Primary source matierial of all types documenting American  history from 1801-1819.

eHRAF World Cultures Restricted Resource Some full text available
Full-text ethnographies subject-indexed at the paragraph level for precise retrieval of information on all aspects of cultural and social life.

Periodicals Archive Online Restricted Resource Some full text available
Full text access to hundreds of journals in the humanities and social sciences. Dates of coverage: 1802-2000

ProQuest Congressional Publications Restricted Resource Some full text available
Information about and by U.S. Congress, including hearings, reports, documents, legislative histories, and the Congressional Record.
Research help
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