American Indians

Images of Native Americans, Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley

European interpretations of Native Americans, images of popular culture, literary and political observations, and artistic representations are reflected in the more than 60 items available on this website. They are drawn from rare books, pamphlets, journals, pulp magazines, original photographs, and newspapers. The images include the renowned works of George Catlin and Edward S. Curtis, as well as lesser-known works, such as those of early 19th-century Russian artist-explorer Louis Choris.

American Indians of the Pacific Northwest, American Memory and University of Washington

More than 2,300 photographs and 7,700 pages of text illustrate the everyday lives of American Indians in the Northwest Coast and Plateau regions of the Pacific Northwest on this website. The materials illuminate the American Indians’ housing, clothing, crafts, education, employment, transportation, and other aspects of everyday life. Each item included in the collection is accompanied by information on the source, medium, repository, catalog information, and other descriptive notes of interest. The site also offers ten 2,500-word essays authored by anthropologists on specific tribal groups and cross-cultural topics that help K-12 students and teachers understand and effectively use the sources in the collection. Also included are 14 maps of the featured regions and ten links to related American Memory exhibits and collections. It is ideal for students and teachers exploring the lives of Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest.

Native American Documents Project, E. A. Schwartz, California State University at San Marcos

This site presents full-text transcriptions of primary documents pertaining to federal Indian policy in the late 19th century. It includes published reports of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and Board of Indian Commissioners that shaped most aspects of Indian policy during the late 19th century, and 111 indexed documents that include letters received by the Office of Indian Affairs, newspaper editorials, and government reports. It also includes the Allotment Data Collection. Allotment was a process by which the government allowed most of the land base left to the Indians in the West to fall into other hands by the latter half of the 19th century. These tables trace the redistribution of Indian lands through land acquisition and agricultural data from the 1870s to the 1910s.

George Catlin and His Indian Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery

George Catlin, a lawyer turned painter, traveled throughout the American West in the early 19th century to chronicle the Native American experience. His paintings of the Plains Indians are the center of this virtual exhibit. From 1830 to 1836, Catlin visited more than 50 tribes from North Dakota to Oklahoma. A valuable resource for teaching about the Indian Removal of the 1830s, the transformation of the Western frontier, and the encounter of Anglo American and Native American cultures.

Early Images of Virginia Indians, Virginia Historical Society

This online exhibit features 18 images with interpretative material and an essay on interpreting historical images. The exhibit also includes useful information on John White’s watercolors, Theodore de Bry’s engravings, and John Smith’s 1612 map of Virginia.

Edward S. Curtis’s “The North American Indian, American Memory, Library of Congress and Northwestern University Library

This site presents all 2,226 photographs taken by Edward S. Curtis for his work The North American Indian. These striking images of North American tribes are considered some of the most significant representations of “the old time Indian, his dress, his ceremonies, his life and manners” ever produced. Each image is accompanied by comprehensive identifying data and Curtis’s original captions. The voluminous collection and narrative are presented in 20 volumes, searchable by subject, 80 American Indian tribes, and seven geographic locations, including the Great Plains, Great Basin, Plateau Region, Southwest, California, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska. This site also features a 12-item bibliography and three scholarly essays (each between 2,000 and 4,000 words) discussing Curtis’s methodology as an ethnographer, the significance of his work to Native peoples of North America, and his promotion of the 20th-century view that American Indians were a “vanishing race.” Students will find the biographical timeline and map depicting the locations where Curtis photographed American Indian groups especially useful. Those interested in the Native American experience should also see the link to related online resources produced by Library of Congress and 11 other institutions.

Lakota Winter Counts, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

The Lakota drew pictures of memorable events to track the passage of time. This website features an online exhibit displaying, explaining, and interpreting these pictorial histories known as winter counts. The website features a searchable database of images, a documentary about Lakota history and culture, video interviews with Lakota people, and a teacher’s guide. Visitors can view images from ten winter counts and examine their symbols in detail by year with curator comments on individual symbols. The “Who Are the Lakota” section offers a historical overview of Lakota history in ten segments that include the Lakota and the Sioux people, Lakota origins, westward migration, horse-centered culture on the northern Great Plains, important conflicts and treaties, confinement to the Great Sioux Reservation, and subsequent land cessions. In addition to highlighting the winter counts, this site is an outstanding resource for teaching and learning about the Lakota people and their culture, as well as discussing the role of Native Americans in westward expansion.