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Indigenous New England Digital Collections
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Browse Exhibits (3 total)

Along the Basket Trail

Baskets As Texts

Baskets serve a communicative purpose through their materials, designs, and functions, baskets fit perfectly into what is conventionally known as literature. 

If you would like to contribute to this exhibit please contact Siobhan Senier at



Tribal newspapers, magazines, and newsletters are an untapped trove of writing by Native Americans, perhaps nowhere more so than in New England, where Native authors have been too often excluded from mainstream publishing venues and opportunities. Many people have heard of The Cherokee Phoenix, begun in the 1820s, and often said to have been the first Native American newspaper.  Fewer have heard of The Narragansett Dawn, published between 1935 and 1936 in Rhode Island, and read by Eleanor Roosevelt and other prominent people interested in Native American issues. That magazine included essays, stories, poetry and language lessons written by Narragansett and other indigenous people.

Across New England, there have been dozens more periodical publications in which tribal people continue to communicate their news; circulate traditional stories, recipes and other knowledge; and sustain their communities both at home and in diaspora.

This exhibit seeks to digitize and share (where appropriate and permissible) some of these remarkable regional periodicals. You can see a preliminary inventory of newsletters and other publications here. Tribal historians, librarians and others who are interested in digitizing such publications--or who would like help digitizing papers in your collections--are encouraged to contact

Littlefield, Daniel F., and James W. Parins. American Indian and Alaska Native Newspapers and Periodicals. Greenwood Press, 1986. Print.

Tribal Archives: Untold Histories of Activism and Survival


Many Native American digital exhibits nowadays emanate from large and powerful collecting institutions: the Smithsonian, the American Philosophical Society, Yale University, and others. While these are valuable projects, they don't represent the collections that indigenous people have been maintaining themselves, in their own communities, often with very little material support. These equally precious collections may be found in tribal museums, historians' offices, and Granny's garage. They contain materials often unseen and under-valued outside of tribal communities--letters, petitions, pamphlets, photographs, and newsletters. In these materials, we find tribes telling their own stories of their own activism, their own survival since time immemorial.

The exhibit before you was funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities' Office of Preservation and Access between 2014-16. We wanted to learn what kinds of support tribal historians would need to start inventorying and digitizing their own collections. And we wanted to survey three different kinds of collections: an established tribal museum with some inventoried archives already in place; a tribal office that has been receiving mountains of material from tribal members; and (in fact) Grannies' garages. Our findings from our project are detailed in a white paper (forthcoming). 

Here, we invite you to peruse some of these essays, newsletters and other materials. We invite tribal members and historians to consider how they might like to contribute or participate; and we invite ALL visitors to consider the untold histories of Indigenous survival in New England that these writings represent.

Project Partners

Joan Tavares Avant (IRC), Judy Battat (IRC), Linda Coombs (IRC), Eleta Exline (UNH), Joan Lester (IRC), Meredith Ricker (UNH), Siobhan Senier (UNH), Loren Spears (Tomaquag), Donald Soctomah (Passamaquoddy)