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Protocols for Native American Archival Materials

“Native American communities are sovereign governments. Tribes had their own traditional governments prior to European invasion. These governments maintain their own territories, their own laws, and their own legal restrictions surrounding cultural issues. Most Native American communities have federal recognition, while others hold state recognition. In Canada, many Native American communities have a similar status through federal treaties or provincial acknowledgement. Native Hawaiians are accorded special status by both federal law and state law. A number of federal laws in the United States specifically address both cultural and human rights of Native Americans and their communities. While we share a common commitment to the preservation and dissemination of knowledge, archivists and librarians should understand and respect Native American rights and laws, which are recognized in the United States Constitution. These statuses and associated rights form the basis of the principles behind the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials...


The contributors to these North American best practices hope that the lines of communication opened by this work will serve as the genesis for an ongoing national discussion around different approaches to the management, preservation, and transmission of Native American knowledge and information resources. These Protocols urge archivists and librarians to consider Native American perspectives on professional policy and practice issues.


The proposed standards and goals articulated in Protocols for Native American Archival Materials are meant to inspire and to foster mutual respect and reciprocity. Institutions and communities are encouraged to adopt and adapt the culturally responsive recommendations to suit local needs. New issues for consideration will undoubtedly arise as the best practices are debated and implemented. The contributors intend this document to be a work in progress - subject to revision and enhancement.


North American libraries, archives, and American Indian communities will benefit from embracing the power of conversation, cooperation, education, negotiation, and compromise.” (p.1)