Thursday, November 13, 2008

Native American Heritage Month

American Indian Heritage Month, also known as Native American Heritage Month and National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, began with an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the First Americans made to the establishment and growth of the United States. This effort, which began in the early part of the 20th century, resulted in the month of November being designated for that purpose.

InfoPlease has put together a fairly exhaustive Web site that covers notable Native Americans, quotations, information on Native American placenames, tribe listings and even quizzes to test what you've learned. InfoPlease does rely on advertising, however, so watch out for the annoying popup ads.

You can always count on the Library of Congress (LOC) to provide wonderful online resources and source material for specific populations. For Native American Heritage Month, the LOC has partnered with the National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans. The Web site includes images, audio and links to specific collections and exhibitions related to or encompassing Native American history, as well as lesson plans and activities for teachers and students.

The National Education Association (NEA) has released a recommended reading list that includes titles ranging from such pre-K classics as 'Mama, Do You Love Me' to Tony Hillerman's Joe Leaphorn Series that has been "thrilling young (and older) adults for more than a decade." The list includes titles listed by grade level and include fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

Tony Hillerman fans may also want to check out the PBS American Mystery Specials - Based on the Novels by Tony Hillerman site. This online resource includes a Hillerman biography and interview, a list of his books featuring Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and Sergeant Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police, material on the Navajo yesterday and today, and details about the novels made into films (such as synopses, and novel and script excerpts). There are also links to related sites.

The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian's Web site does not have much in the way of online resources, instead focusing on providing information of exhibits and details on visiting the museum (located in Washington, DC) itself. However, they do have an online guide to World War II (WWII) and the use of Native American "Code Talkers" as well as a unique Web site on Native American-produced media called Native Networks, for both English and Spanish speakers/readers.

The library subscribes to several online databases that can help you with research on Native Americans:
  • Biography Resource Center (via Find It Virginia) - Allows you to browse for biographical information on the category Native Americans;
  • Both Britannica Online and World Book Online (kids' and regular versions) - Include in-depth research articles on Native Americans;
  • Ancestry Library (in-library use only) - Nineteen (19) databases available that cover specific Native American tribes as well as U.S. Indian Census Schedules;
  • NoveList - Allows you to search for titles/authors on or by Native Americans. They also have an Author Read-Alikes list for Tony Hillerman that feature author and series that feature Native American protagonists and customs. Also check out their Recommended Reads section, where they have book lists on Native Americans and Native American Mysteries;
As I run across more educational resources on the Web, I will be adding them to this blog posting.