Native American Studies

Shasta belt

Shasta belt, from the collection of the National Museum of the American Indian.

About this Guide

Welcome to the research guide for Native American Studies. This guide provides search tips and links to research resources for topics related to Native American history and culture. Follow the tabs above to find help, specific tools, and searching techniques.

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Finding materials online and in the library can require using a variety of different words. It is a good idea to write down as many terms as you can think of before and during your research.

Some terms and phrases to use when searching for information about Native Americans include:

  • “First Nations”
  • “Indians of North America”
  • “Native American”
  • “tribal government”
  • Individual tribal names and groups may have various spellings. For example, many tribes may be grouped under the name of Sioux or Sioux Nation, instead of their individual names, or a resource might only use the individual tribes’ names instead of Sioux.

Print Reference Books

Get some background on the Native American tribes in reference books. Those that begin with the letter “R” are located by the Reference Desk.

  • Books on the Reference shelves with numbers R 970 through R 970.9 cover Native American history and cultures.
  • Books with the number R 299.7 discuss Native American mythology and healing practices.
  • Encyclopedia of American Indian Wars, 1492-1890 — R 973 K26e
  • Encyclopedia of Native American Jewelry: A Guide to History, People, and Terms — 739.27089 B355e
  • Native American Literatures: An Encyclopedia of Works, Characters, Authors, and Themes — R 810.9897 W623n
  • Native American Women: A Biographical Dictionary — R 920.7208997 B328n 2001
  • Notable Native Americans — R 920.009297 M251n

Online Reference Books

To access these books from off campus, you will need to log in using your Pipeline username and password.

Reference Databases

These resources are available online and will require your Pipeline account information when you access them from off campus:

  • Credo Reference: Contains the full text of nearly 600 encyclopedias, dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, and other reference books.
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library: Contains the full text of encyclopedias and specialized reference sources.


Use the library catalog (books+) to find books about Native Americans, in both print and ebook format. Your search results will include articles as well. Limit to books by choosing the appropriate box from the menu to the left of the results.


Use one of the following databases to find articles from periodicals (newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals) about Native Americans. To access databases from off campus, you will need to log in with your Pipeline username and password.

  • Academic Search Complete: Provides full text for more than 8,500 periodicals (magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals), including full text for nearly 7,300 peer-reviewed titles, in all subject areas. The database includes PDF content going back as far as 1887. Searchable cited references are provided for more than 1,400 journals.
  • Ethnic NewsWatch: Included are journals, magazines, and newspapers from ethnic and minority presses. The current collection, Ethnic NewsWatch™, covers 1990-present, and the historical collection, Ethnic NewsWatch: A History™, spans 1959-1989.
  • History Reference Center: Covers all time periods of U.S. and World History. Provides full text from more than 1,620 reference books, encyclopedias and non-fiction books, and cover to cover full text for more than 150 leading history periodicals (magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals). Includes primary source material such as historical documents, photos, and maps. Also includes biographies of historical figures, and more than 80 hours of historical video.
  • JSTOR: Contains articles from hundreds of scholarly journals covering a wide range of subjects in the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Full text articles are available, from the first issue (sometimes going back over 100 years) until five years ago.

Primary Sources

Primary sources are first-person accounts or direct evidence of the topics or events you are researching. They may include letters, diaries, photographs, autobiographies, records such as birth certificates or land deeds, treaties and other government documents, news footage and eyewitness articles, plays, movies, works of art, speeches, interviews, oral histories, memoirs, architectural plans, and many other kinds of artifacts.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources analyze, summarize, interpret, or comment on primary sources. They are usually created by someone who did not experience an event first-hand. They may include biographies, scholarly journal articles, literary criticism, political analysis, news reports other than first-hand accounts, reference books, and textbooks.

What About Newspapers?

Some sources may be considered primary or secondary, depending on how you use them. For example, a 1969 newspaper article that discusses the moon landing that year could be considered a secondary source. But if you are interested in how NASA was portrayed by the media during the Cold War, the same article could be considered a primary source as an historical artifact. Watch Newspapers – Primary Source? for more information.

Primary Sources in Library Databases

Some of the library databases include primary source materials. To access these resources from off campus, you will need to log in with your Pipeline username and password.

  • Alexander Street Press Videos: Search for the keyword (in quotes) “Native American.”
  • History Reference Center: When you search for your topic, use the ADVANCED SEARCH and select PUBLICATION TYPE = PRIMARY SOURCE DOCUMENTS. Or you can select the PRIMARY SOURCES tab found in the menu to the left of the list of results after your search.

Primary Sources on the Internet

You can also find primary sources materials through several free websites:


Finding good websites can be difficult and time-consuming, and it is important to evaluate your sources. Techniques for Evaluating American Indian Websites offers “guidelines useful for evaluating and identifying Web sites that contain accurate information and that are not exploitative of American Indians.”

Below are some recommendations of quality sites about Native American history and culture:

General Websites

Census Information

U.S. and Tribal Government and Law

  • For Tribal Governments and Native Americans: From containing online services and resources on law, jobs, housing, health, tribes, and more.
  • National Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA): NAGPRA page containing the Culturally Unidentifiable Human Remains Inventories (CUI) Database, grants to assist Natives, and other information regarding NAGPRA.
  • Native American Constitution and Law Digitization Project: A joint project between University of Oklahoma Law Library, The National Indian Law Library of the Native American Rights Fund and Native American tribes providing access to the Constitutions, Tribal Codes, and other legal documents.
  • U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs: Established in 1824, Indian Affairs (IA) is the oldest bureau of the United States Department of the Interior and an umbrella bureau for all federal services to Native Americans. The page contains information about education, gaming, economic development, tribal government and land/water resources.

Native American Rights

  • American Indian Movement: The official website of one of the preeminent, but sometimes controversial, organizations working on issues related to Native rights. Includes official statements, podcasts, and streaming audio news.

Specific Regions and Tribes

  • Alaska’s Digital Archives: “Alaska Historical Collections (AS 14.56.080) in the Alaska State Library is a major repository for historical manuscripts, photographs, newspapers, maps, books, and other publications, along with significant personal collections.”
  • Alaska Native Heritage Center: Excellent reference resource containing information on the different cultures of Alaska: Athabascan, Unangax and Alutiiq (Sugpiaq), Yup’ik,Cup’ik, Inupiaq, St. Lawrence, Island Yupik,Eyak, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian.
  • Alaska Native Knowledge Network: From University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
  • Hopi Cultural Preservation Office: Official site for the Hopi containing information about current and past research projects.


  • Native American Cancer Research Partnership: “The Partnership for Native American Cancer Prevention (NACP) is a collaboration between Northern Arizona University and the Arizona Cancer Center, funded through the National Cancer Institute. The mission is to alleviate the unequal burden of cancer among Native Americans of the Southwest through research, training and community outreach programs in collaboration with the communities they serve.”

Indian Gaming

Museums, Exhibits, and Presentations

(see the Primary Sources tab for more)

Citation Guidelines

Below are some resources for creating citations for sources found on the internet and through library databases. More resources are available on the Citation Guides page.