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Indigenous Art & Architecture

A guide meant to augment research into Indigenous artists and architects across the world, with a specific focus on the United States and Canada.

Harry Fonseca's painting "Coyote Leaves the Res." Coyote wearing a leather jacket, sunglasses, and black boots in front of a red background.

Harry Fonseca. Coyote Leaves the Res, acrylic on carboard - 21 1/4"x 13 1/4" - 1976.

Relevant Resources

How to Search Databases/Catalogs

This section provides some guidance on how to respectfully and thoroughly search through databases or catalogs for topics related to Indigenous people, communities, and issues (with an emphasis on art and architecture). The suggested search terms and general advice are partially based on the article "Researching Native Americans: Reflections on Vocabulary, Search Strategies, and Technology." When researching or writing on topics relating to Indigenous people, it is important to refer to specific nations, tribes, communities, or people when possible and applicable. Below is an example that includes both the more commonly used name and the name of the group in their native language in order to widen the scope of resources being searched. 

Screenshot of search bar on a database. Searching (apsaalooke OR crow) AND (art)

When it is not possible to search for specific communities, or when researching Indigenous topics more generally, it is important to know that there are a variety of terms that can be used and each one has a different connotation or history attached to it. According to "Researching Native Americans: Reflections on Vocabulary, Search Strategies, and Technology," the term Indigenous is a broad term that has become the preferred pan-Indigenous term in the last few decades. However, American Indian was the most popular term used starting in the 1800s, and Native American became more widely used in the 1980s and 1990s. Additionally, in Canada, the term First Nations is commonly used and in Australia and New Zealand, the term Aboriginal is commonly used. The term you use can affect the sort of material that a search brings up; the time period or physical setting of the article or book can change based on the search term. For a more inclusive search, you can do a search like the one below that utilizes most or all of the terms introduced.

Screenshot of search bar on a database. Searching (indigenous OR native OR american indian OR first nation) and (painting OR portrait)

Resources from the Catalog

For further research, here are some resources on Indigenous research practices, epistemologies, and examples written by Indigenous scholars. This is not a comprehensive list but rather a starting point for compassionate and informed research on topics related to Indigenous people and histories.