Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Native American Resources at Ball State University Libraries

Native American Resources for Learning, Teaching, and Research at Ball State University Libraries

by Hannah Cox, Archives and Special Collections Supervisor, and Melissa Gentry, Map Collection Assistant

Students, faculty, and other researchers looking for resources about Native Americans can find them in abundance in the Archives and Special Collections and the Geospatial Resources and Map Collection at the Ball State University Libraries. While much of the material can be found through the Libraries’ online public catalog CardCat, some items of potential interest require more in-depth assistance. For this reason, collection guides to Native American resources are being updated.

The material in Archives and Special Collections is divided into two sections, with the first focusing specifically on the Miami and Delaware people in Indiana and the second encompassing resources of a more general nature. The first section of the subject guide has been subdivided into Manuscript Collections, Theses and Dissertations, and Rare Book Monographs. This includes newspaper articles, manuscripts, books, maps, and photographs concerning local Native Americans. The Miami Indian Collection and books from such authors as Otho Winger are two examples of local resources. The second section consists primarily of rare books about Native American tribes outside of Delaware county, as well as official documents and reports. Many of the books in this area were written from the perspective of missionaries, travelers, or soldiers, although there are several written by Native Americans. The online Native American Collection Guide can be found under the Collection Areas subheading on the Archives and Special Collections homepage.

The Geospatial Resources and Map Collection (GRMC) also has a number of resources that can be used in research and learning about Native Americans. The Map Collection includes several maps published by the U.S. federal government showing the location of “Indian lands” over time, Indian land cession maps, Native American languages maps, as well as the location of current reservations throughout the United States.

Historic maps in the Collection depict the homelands and influences of Native Americans. The Making of America series of maps from National Geographic display regional homelands throughout North America. The map, Indiana, the Influence of the Indian upon its History: with Indian and French Names for Natural and Cultural Locations, shows the origins of place names in Indiana. Montana: Frontier, Pioneer: a one-page History Dedicated to the Old Timers (shown) depicts the history of the state of Montana.

The Atlas Collection also includes many resources for the study of Native Americans. The Atlas of American Indian Affairs, Atlas of American Migration, and the Illustrated Atlas of Native American History are excellent resources about Native Americans in general. Other atlases have a more specific focus, including Atlas of the Sioux Wars, The Navajo Atlas, and A Zuni Atlas.

The Native American materials are a valuable resource for research and learning. Students from Anthropology 471/571 Ethnohistory visited the GRMC for an instructional session about using cartographic resources. Students were assigned a special project using maps and other sources to research the Native American origins of places in Indiana. Historical researchers from Indianapolis were also able to use maps and aerial photography from the GRMC to assist in the identification of a possible Native American ritual site near Yorktown, Indiana. An online guide to Native American resources available in the GRMC and Atlas Collection will soon be available on the GRMC Web page. Most of the resources in the Collections are currently available for searches in CardCat.

For more information on these and other resources, contact the Archives and Special Collections at 765/285-5078 or the Geospatial Resources and Map Collection at 765/285-1097.

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