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Native American Studies

Collection Area

Native American Studies Program



Native American Studies began operation as a modified department at Dartmouth College in the Fall of 1972, under President John Kemeny, representing a recommitment of the College to Native American education. The reasons for the department's establishment are obvious: Dartmouth was founded in 1769 with the fundamental purpose of providing educational opportunities for Native American people. Michael Dorris was named the first Chair of the Native American Studies Program in 1972. At that time the college was one of the very few colleges in the United States and Canada to offer a Native American Studies Program.

The program started with four courses in Native American Studies, with the cooperation of other departments which simultaneously began increasing their course offerings in Native American culture and history. This cooperation has been essential to the success of the program. Since this time the Program has hired top faculty in conjunction with other departments and greatly expanded its course offerings in the fields of history, culture, literature and policy. This relationship between the Native American Studies program and other departments, particularly Anthropology and History, has continued to be a strong and essential one due to the interdisciplinary nature of the field.

A Certificate was given for work in the Native American Studies program from 1974 until Fall Term, 1994, when a minor in Native American Studies was established. The program began offering a major in Native American Studies Fall Term 1998. Currently there are 23 students majoring and 7 students minoring in Native American Studies. There are 20 courses offered in the department with a faculty of eleven. These faculty frequently have joint appointments with related areas of study. Teaching within the department is augmented by visiting instructors who play an important role in providing specialized courses in Native American Studies. Located in Bartlett Hall for its first 25 years, the department moved to newly renovated quarters in Sherman House in 1998 with expanded meeting spaces and a more efficient space for its library of over 4300 volumes. The department's library is now catalogued and available online through DCIS.

General Purpose

It is the strong intent of Native American Studies at Dartmouth to provide a broad and balanced program of study, from the study of traditional languages and lifeways to the examination and analysis of contemporary issues. The Native American Studies collection supports undergraduate instructional and research needs, and the research needs of the faculty. Because the College was founded to educate Native Americans, a commitment renewed in the early 1970s, the collection also supports the history and purpose of Dartmouth. Primary emphasis has been placed on Northeastern North America, but all aspects of all North, Central and South American indigenous populations are collected. Special attention is paid to publications by tribal governments, educational institutions, museums, and other 'small presses' publishing in Native American Studies.

Dartmouth College Program

Both a major and a minor are offered in Native American Studies at the undergraduate level. A culminating experience course is required of all majors. There is an established pre-doctoral fellowship in the Program, the Charles Eastman Fellowship, so a least one person a year is also doing dissertation-level research. Native American Studies is also frequently represented in the research of MALS students. Traditionally, course and research work has centered on the history, culture and literature of Native Americans. The Dartmouth Medical School has had a field program on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.

General Subject Boundaries

Most of the Native American Studies collection is located in Baker. Part of the collection which covers biological and medical anthropology and cross-cultural psychiatry, is located in the Dana Biomedical Library and many of the titles dealing with Native American art and architecture are located in the Sherman Art Library. The bulk of the collection is in the LCCN E51-E99 range, with significant holdings in the DDC 597-599's. Library of Congress classes GN (Anthropology), GR (Folklore), and GT (Manners and Customs) include much Native American material as well. Because of its inter-disciplinary nature, however, Native American Studies overlaps with a number of disciplines, including: history, literature, music (ethnomusicology), sociology, government, religion, linguistics, and art.


English is the primary language of the collection although material in other languages, especially Spanish, French and German is also collected. Some material in Russian is collected for Alaska and adjacent areas. Dictionaries of Native American languages are collected whenever available, as are linguistic studies.

Geographic Areas

The Native American Studies collection focusses exclusively on the indigenous peoples of North, Central and South America, including the Arctic regions.

Types Of Material Collected

The collection consists primarily of monographs, serials and reference sources, such as bibliographies, handbooks and indexes. Historical, cultural and literary materials are all strongly represented in this collection. With regard to United States government documents, the appropriate item numbers for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the cultural resource management programs of the National Park Service, Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management are all selected and received. Demand for microform sets of primary source documents is strong. As budgets permit, regional coverage of National Archives materials is being extended to the entire US as are significant collections of the papers of individuals. Dissertations and audiovisual materials are selectively collected.

Format Of Materials Collected

In addition to printed materials, the Library acquires retrospective runs of many journals and newspapers in microform (reels , fiche and microprint). Also strongly represented in microform are government documents, documents from the National Archives, collections of the papers of various individuals and other materials. There is a strong representation of material on Native American history in the microprint collection "Early American Imprints". With the inclusion of Instructional Services' audiovisual collection into the Library's holdings, materials in video and DVD form are currently being collected. As with all other fields of study, material in electronic format is heavily represented in Native American Studies.

Special Collections and Manuscripts

The Stefansson Collection of Polar Resources includes materials on Arctic and Sub-Arctic Native peoples. The Dartmouth College History collection includes material on Samson Occom and other Native individuals and peoples connected to Dartmouth's origins and mission. There is also a representation in the Rare Book collection of titles dealing with early exploration and communications with Native American peoples.

Other Resources Available

The Native American Studies Program maintains its own library in Sherman House; this library is catalogued and its database is accessible through the Dartmouth College Information System. The NAS Library receives a number of serials, newsletters and other ephemeral tribal information not held by the Dartmouth College Libraries. Aside from that collection and resources available through RLG libraries, there are no resources on a local or regional level which affect collection activity. Harvard's Tozzer Library has the world's foremost anthropology collection, and the University of Vermont has a particular interest in the Native population and history of the region; as these institutions are resources for very obscure or very local materials, they do not affect our collecting. The "Arctic and Antarctic Regions" database, available through DCIS, is a collection of many databases covering a wide range of topics relating to polar regions, from physics and chemistry of ice to engineering problems to ecology to anthropology. This database includes access to information on Native populations in the Arctic regions.

Other Related Collection Policies

Music and Ethnomusicology
Polar and Cold Regions

Revision History

Spelling corrected January 1995 (Greg Finnegan)
June 2000 (Ridie Ghezzi)

LC Class



Ridie Ghezzi

Current Bibliographer

Amy L. Witzel

Last Updated: 8/5/16