Participants on a nature walk with Barona Cultural Center & Museum learn about tracking animals and how Kumeyaay/Diegueño ancestors hunted.
Participants on a nature walk learn about tracking animals and how Kumeyaay/Diegueño ancestors hunted (photo courtesy of the Barona Cultural Center & Museum).

November is Native American Heritage Month. It is a time to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of Native people and to acknowledge their important contributions to our American story.

This month is also an opportune time to educate the public about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically, and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges. IMLS works with grantees year-round to support them in preserving their histories and traditions for generations to come.

IMLS has four grant programs supporting Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian libraries and museums. These programs are designed to support Indian tribes and organizations that primarily serve and represent Native Hawaiians in sustaining their heritage, culture, and knowledge through exhibitions, educational services and programming, workforce professional development, organizational capacity building, and collections stewardship.

Some examples of Tribal projects IMLS has funded this year include:

  • The San Carlos Apache Tribe will develop and offer programming to reintroduce traditional Apache games that were once played by Apache tribes in Arizona and New Mexico to tribal youth and families. Meetings and workshops conducted with Apache elders and traditional practitioners will enable program participants to make the necessary objects and instruments for the games, learn Apache vocabulary, harvest traditional plants and foods, and engage in seasonal ceremonies for wellness and renewal.

  • The Chippewa Cree Tribe of The Rocky Boy Reservation will use Lyrasis Islandora software to migrate digital archive materials and expand their existing archive collections. They will increase community programming and cultural events by hosting 12 library community events, with at least six having a cultural education focus, as well as hosting five day-long workshops with local craftsmen.

  • The Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma will design and fabricate an exhibit for display at the Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown, Illinois, to tell the story of the Emiquon Preserve and its significance to the Tribe. The resulting exhibit will invite residents and visitors from across the nation to view and experience the Emiquon Preserve with a deeper understanding of the cultural significance, beauty, and resourcefulness of the area.

  • The Wiyot Tribe will develop maps of the place names of ancestral territory in the native Wiyot language of Soulatluk. Focused archival and field research to recover these place names and accurately locate them within ancestral lands will result in published brochures and large format printed maps for exhibition. Additionally, the maps will serve as an ongoing resource for Tribal members to reclaim and care for their language and ancestral lands as well as for residents of the ancestral Wiyot territory to learn about Wiyot land stewardship, culture, and the Soulatluk language.

  • The Huna Totem Corporation will produce short films, lesson plans, and educational programming on Hoonah Tlingit traditions, history, and culture to share via an online digital archive. It also will supplement its archival holdings by recording new interviews with local elders to preserve their knowledge for future generations. The project will support travel for staff to teach a storytelling workshop in Hoonah and to host a teacher in-service and community presentation in Juneau, Alaska.

  • The Kanza Museum and the Kanza Library and Learning Center of the Kaw Nation will provide a series of programs focused on increasing native community involvement through the teaching of traditional arts and crafts, including moccasins, fringe shawls, jewelry, ribbon skirts, and shirts. They will infuse the programs with Kaáⁿze Íe, the Kaw language, and display crafted items made by participants at fashion shows and cultural events.

  • The Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians will develop an arts program at the Ojibwe Learning Center and Library to identify and support Anishinaabe art and artists to strengthen their ability to build, maintain, and preserve cultural knowledge. The program will provide under-served and under-recognized Anishinaabe artists with professional development opportunities, help build their skills while developing avenues for financial support, connect mentors and mentees, and encourage the emergence of a new generation of Anishinaabe artists.

  • The Citizen Potawatomi Nation will digitize family history records and make them available to tribal members through a public portal. The Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center will partner with the Kansas Historical Society—which holds more than 40,000 documents related to the Potawatomi—on this project. A contracted document processor will work with archivists to assess the records. Following that step, the project team will scan, catalog, and make the materials freely available for tribal members to access.

The important work these grantees are doing will help provide their Tribal communities with access to rich traditions, histories, and languages for generations to come.

For more information about upcoming grant opportunities, please visit the IMLS website.

Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Services
Native American Library Services
Native Hawaiian Library Services
Inspire! Grants for Small Museums