Indigenous Nations

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Indigenous nations: Sites of interest

(originally published in the January 2004 issue of C&RL News)

by Gina Matesic, head of the Social Work Library at Wilfrid Laurier University,

This year marks the conclusion of the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People. The decade was launched by a proclamation of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Under the theme “Partnership in Action,” the intention was to establish ways and means for cooperation between indigenous peoples and governments, states, and other bodies.

Research in the area of indigenous nations is inherently multidisciplinary, and any researcher soon discovers the layers of historical, legal, political, environmental, and cultural contexts throughout the information-gathering process. Digitized historical documents, maps, government reports (both historical and contemporary), legal cases, and specialized educational curriculum are accessible to researchers. Librarians in the field must perceive library resources in the broadest manner to be most effective to these researchers. Luckily, these efforts are facilitated through the hypertext and visual nature of the Internet.

There are numerous quality Internet resources about indigenous peoples, individual communities, organizations, and particular topics. In addition to nonindigenous resources, strong effort has been made to include Internet resources created and maintained by indigenous peoples or nations. Increasingly, these groups have used the Internet to communicate and disseminate information about their communities and issues that affect their lives. This column contains a selective list of resources that cover international and regional resources. The term indigenous peoples is used inclusively, and is intended to respectfully encompass First Nations, Aboriginal, Indian, Inuit, and other people throughout the world.

Multinational and general Web sites

The Arctic Council. Six international indigenous peoples organizations work with representatives from Canada, Denmark (Greenland, Faeroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States to preserve the Arctic environment and way of life. This site provides information about members, projects, key issues, newsletters, and events. Access:

Center for World Indigenous Studies. This site represents one aspect of the center’s mandate to foster understanding “through the publication and distribution of literature written and voiced by leading contributors from Fourth World Nations.” The site contains information about educational programs and courses, a bookstore, archives, and an electronic library of documents searchable by geographical region with additional international documents. Access:

Cultural Survival. This nongovernmental organization has a goal of “promoting the rights, voices, and visions of indigenous peoples.” Information is organized according to region or by topic; each subsection features related articles from its own two publications, profiles of specific NGOs in that region, news briefs, links, and other documents. Access:

Native American Resources. This Web site, created by librarian Lisa Mitten, is an essential site for any researcher of Native American issues. This site provides access to Web sites of native organizations, business, media, music and culture, tribal colleges, and native studies programs. The site also links to quality resources about native communities. Access:

Researching Indigenous Peoples Rights under International Law. Steven Perkins updates his original document prepared for presentation at the 1992 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries. It is both a guide to researching international law and indigenous peoples, and a springboard to other online materials. Information is organized by research sources, specific geographic areas, and topics. Access:

North America

Aboriginal Canada Portal. The Aboriginal Canada Portal is a single gateway to online resources, contacts, and information for and about aboriginal peoples. The site provides links to national aboriginal organizations, federal government departments with aboriginal mandates, and all provincial governments and organizations with aboriginal responsibilities. It is organized by broad subject area, such as economic development, claims and treaties, health, policy, research, and statistics. Access to aboriginal associations and communities is arranged by province, and there are more than 7,500 links to aboriginal businesses, organizations, bands, groups, news and people. Well-organized and easy to use, it is an essential site for anyone beginning research on Canadian aboriginal people. Access:

The Bureau of Indian Affairs. Based within the U.S. Department of the Interior, this agency’s mission is “to fulfil trust responsibilities and promote self-determination” of American indigenous peoples.” Access:

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. This is the central federal department for aboriginal matters in Canada. This site provides access to digitized historical treaties and contemporary legal cases, primary documents, community profiles, images, research reports, maps, statistics, and examples of Indian and Inuit art. The site is organized by name of item and geographic region. Access:

North American primary resources

Canada’s Digital Collections–First Peoples. Under the subject heading “First Peoples,” this site provides links to resources in museums, schools, historical societies, and First Nations cultural centers. Materials include images, descriptions of Aboriginal games, museum collections, art images, sound clips, and transcribed interviews with elders. Access:

Edward S. Curtis’ “The North American Indian.” This site contains selected images and text from this early 20th-century work and has excellent related resources. Access:

Indian Land Cessions in the United States. This site contains the second part of the two-part Eighteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology. It features 67 maps, schedules of treaties, and land cessions compiled by Charles C. Royce. Access:

The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents. These missionary texts are one of the major sources of information about the early years of French contact and colonization in North America; they describe aboriginal societies and economic, cultural, demographic, and religious impact of contact. This site contains the entire English translation of the original late 19th-century documents. Each file contains the total English contents of a single published volume. Access:

Kappler’s Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties. This site contains the fully searchable digitized text of all seven volumes from the original 1903–04 U.S Government Printing Office publication. Based at Oklahoma State University Library, these volumes contain U.S. government treaties with Native Americans from 1871–1970 as well as U.S. laws and executive orders. Information can be accessed from the table of contents, through the index of each volume, or by keyword search. Access:

Native American Constitution and Law Digitization Project. Housed at the University of Oklahoma Law Library, this project is a cooperative effort between the University of Oklahoma Law Center, the National Indian Law Library, and Native American tribes. The site provides access to constitutions, tribal codes, a digitized version of the Handbook of Federal Indian Law (1941) by Felix S. Cohen, documents of Indian land cessions, Indian Reorganization Act Era Constitutions and Charters, and many other resources for researchers of Native American legal issues. Access:

Latin America and South America

AILLA–The Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America. This digital archive contains recordings and texts, including narratives, ceremonies, oratory, conversations, and songs, in the indigenous languages of Latin America. Some areas require special access. The archive also contains materials about these languages, such as grammar, dictionaries, ethnographies, and bilingual teaching materials. Access:

Amazon Watch. This site presents a wide range of environmental and rights issues for indigenous peoples throughout the Amazon region. It contains digital maps, video clips, photos, reports, news clippings, annual reports and overviews of specific countries. Extremely valuable and visually attractive site. Access:

Latin American Network Information Center (LANIC). Affiliated with the University of Texas-Austin, this site supports LANIC’s mission “to facilitate access to Internet-based information to, from, or on Latin America.” Information is organized by topic as well as by region and country. Access:

SAIIC–The South and Meso American Indian Rights Center. This site provides access to the advocacy work of SAIIC on behalf of Latin America’s indigenous peoples. It contains news, publications, and full-text articles from the SAIIC’s biannual journal, Abya Yala News. Access:

Europe, Africa and Asia

APFT–Avenir des Peuples des Forets Tropicales. Funded by the European Commission, this organization researches human ecology of rainforest peoples and indigenous knowledge. Primarily focused on Africa and Pacific-area countries, the site provides maps, publications, legal aspects, and bibliographies. Access:

IPACC–The Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee. This site presents a network of indigenous peoples’ organizations in Africa, as well as publications, statements, speeches, a photo gallery, news/events, and an excellent introductory document “Who is Indigenous in Africa?” Access:

Tebtebba–Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education. This site provides access to the organization’s worldwide advocacy work. It includes online documents, news briefs, maps, and links to other research sites; two extensive sections are “issues of the day” and “indigenous concerns.” Access:


ATSIC–The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. ATSIC is Australia’s principal democratically elected indigenous organization. This site contains extensive information about the issues affecting aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Also included are news briefs, research reports and other online documents, maps, educational curriculum, and media. Access:

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. This extensive Web site of resources includes bibliographies, publications, and information about Native Title research, indigenous languages, and links to many more Web sites. Access:

James Henare Maori Research Centre. Based at the University of Auckland, this academic site provides information, publications, reports, and links regarding Maori peoples. Access:

Message Stick. Created by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, this site provides access to its extensive listings of indigenous radio and television productions. It is also a gateway to sites about indigenous Australians, including businesses, arts, food, education, event listings, and discussion forums. Access:

Treaty of Waitangi. This site provides access to primary and secondary documents related to Maori-European relations, including the Te Reo Maori Report, the Treaty in Maori and English, guides to the Treaty, and the Waitangi Tribunal Reports. Access:

E-journals, mailing lists, and discussion forums


Cherokee Observer. Archives back to 1997. Access:

First Nations Periodical Index. Provides access to approximately 20 scholarly journals of mainly Canadian indigenous content. Many are available in full text on the Internet. Access:

The First Perspective: News of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. Indigenous owned and operated. Current issues only online. Access:

Mailing lists

NAGPRA-L–Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, • NATIVELIT–Native American literature, • NATIVE-L–Native cultures,

Discussion forums

American Indian Tribe. General threads about history and culture. Access:

Hopi Information Network. Access:

Potawatomi Language Issues Forum: Focus is the Revitalization and Preservation of the Potawatomi Language. Access:

Turtle Island Native Network Discussion. A forum with many discussion streams including youth, events, elders, women, and other specific issues. Access:

Original article (January 2004):