Distinctive Native American Collections

Scope of Collections


It is from Indigenous educational framework, informed by the research conducted by the Native American Studies Department at the University of New Mexico (UNM), that collection development within the University Libraries (UL) will build and shape Distinctive Native American Collections (DNAC). DNAC include extensive material on the history of Pueblo and tribal nations of New Mexico along with broader inclusion of Indigenous nations of North America. The scope of collections includes themes that inform about Native Americans but also inform from Native American perspectives to include:

  • History of Native American community before colonization
  • Changes in Native American community because of colonization
  • Present state of Native American community
  • Native American methodology for researching Native American communities

Supporting Native American Studies & Scope of Collections Across Disciplines

The University Libraries has in its general collections more than 22,000 monographs and 14 current journal and database subscriptions relating to the history and current affairs of Native Americans to support the Native American Studies Department. Additionally, we have thousands of monographs that focus on aspects of Native American populations in education, music, art, architecture, planning, ethnic studies, linguistics, law, anthropology, sociology, American studies, English, political science, and philosophy.

Current journal titles include Wicazo Sa Review, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, The Journal of American Indian Education, Cultural Survival Quarterly. Database subscriptions such as the Bibliography of Indigenous Peoples in North America, Ethnic Newswatch, JSTOR, Project Muse and North American Indian Thought and Culture, provide access to tribal newspapers, journals, magazines, reviews, and primary resource material. Native American collections can be accessed at the Zimmerman Library or the UL website.  In addition to the Native American Studies department, the UL supports research on Indigenous populations throughout disciplines.

While coverage of resources may be stronger for some disciplines, the UL looks forward to expanding coverage in areas where Indigenous concepts might be more obscure. The UL has subject clusters that provide research support, address collection development, and provide insight into areas where Native American collections could be strengthened. These clusters include Social Sciences, Humanities and Fine Arts, and Science, Technology, Engineering, Math. The Maps & Geographic Information Center is consulted regarding the acquisition of maps developed by and within tribal communities; a place that also provides knowledge of Native American cartography. 

The Collections Advisory Committee for the UL provides guidance on developing vision and goals for overall collecting, planning on budgets, and impact of library data for program reviews. Digital Initiatives & Scholarly Communication develops, cultivates, and supports transnational, national, and regional digital cultural heritage, scholarly, and educational resources and assists in digitizing Native American material accessible on the New Mexico Digital Collections website.   Collectively, the UL works to support development of Distinctive Native American Collections.

Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections

The Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections (CSWR) has many strengths including stewardship of original tribal information represented in collections. The scope of Native American materials in CSWR focus on New Mexico and the southwest region of the United States, although some information on tribal nations from outside of the region are also included. Collections originate from various collectors, researchers, government entities, institutions, and Native American informants. CSWR houses valuable and original sound recordings, photographs by Indigenous photographers, and vintage images taken of Native American people and life. Also included are manuscripts and original educational materials created from community perspectives, covering periods from colonization to contemporary time. There are also thousands of digital files that can be accessed through New Mexico Digital Collections.


Most material collected about Native Americans is in English. Language materials originating from North American tribes are included in audio, video, and written formats. CSWR has original sound recordings from Tiwa, Tewa, Towa, Keres, and Zuni speakers. A formalized MOU with the Pueblo of Zuni allowed digitization of Zuni Language materials, materials that were created and authored by the community, which can be accessed via New Mexico Digital Collections.

Also included in CSWR collections are oral histories from Diné, Apache, Blackfeet, Mono, Inuit, in the American Indian Oral History Collection. The John Donald Robb Archive of Southwest Music and Folklore, also at CSWR, has extensive field recordings gathered in Native American communities locally and from a distance.

Databases, such as “American Indian Newspapers,” provide electronic access to historical newspapers from the late 19th century and early 20th century such as The Cherokee Phoenix written using the Cherokee syllabary and Ka Kanonanona written in Olelo Hawai’i. The UL continues to seek material written in Indigenous languages from native North America. 

Indigenous Research

The UL recognizes that research on Native American culture and history has historically been shaped from a non-Indigenous interpretation.  In the current academic context of libraries and archives, we emphasize collecting materials from and about Indigenous people by actively seeking materials and scholarship from Indigenous academics, educators, creators, and knowledge holders with respect to Indigenous information protocol.  Indigenous scholarship about Indigenous people is built upon community engaged topics of importance. Knowledge shared by Indigenous communities and members is inherently retained knowledge, owned by generations of a tribal nation. We request respectful engagement with integrity when conducting Indigenous research. 

In addition, the UL endorse the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials

Indigenous Nations Library Program

Indigenized frameworks are fundamental to services and programming for collecting Indigenous material and for supporting Indigenous students attending the University of New Mexico.  The Indigenous Nations Library Program (INLP) was created based on the expressed needs of the Pueblos of New Mexico and of tribal nations represented in the population of UNM. The INLP is a unique service point in Zimmerman Library for Indigenous related research questions and information.  This program provides space for Indigenous students, faculty, staff, and community to enact their cultural agency such as speaking their language, dressing culturally, and practicing traditions.  The INLP space is declared with unified tribal representation as depicted with thoughtful murals.  One of the murals is titled, “Re-Member: Re-Generation: Wellspring of Wisdom,” this mural’s thesis is about the dialog and presentation of Indigenous thought and research from Indigenous people, past and present.  The murals and artwork in the INLP are foundational references intended to promote Indigenous culture and community within the UL.