Indigenous Digital Archive

To content | To menu | To search

Tuesday 2018 July 31

How to Make History with the Indigenous Digital Archive -- Sustainable Heritage Network Made a Video Intro!

One of the many neat things about being able to participate in last fall's ATALM conference is that the Sustainable Heritage Network took the opportunity to make a video about the project. Here's How to Make History with the Indigenous Digital Archive -- An Intro to the Indigenous Digital Archive and What You Can Do with It.

Folks into the tech may like our post on the Technology behind the IDA toolkit -- A roundup of links and videos.

Wednesday 2018 May 23

Native American Rights and Events Timeline

Click here for a timeline of Native American Rights and Events drawn from a number of sources, including the online resources of the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways. This pdf file includes names and or links to resources.

A big hello to folks from MCEDSV! Good to see you!

Friday 2017 October 20

Indigenous Digital Archive Call for 2017-2018 IDA Fellows Now Open!

The Indigenous Digital Archive is seeking applicants for the first group of IDA Fellows! The deadline is by email, November 11, 11:59pm. (EDIT -- NOTE: Due to the notice of the Fellows opportunity only going out to the IAIA community on November 13, the deadline for eligible members of the IAIA community has been extended to Saturday, November 18, 2017, by 11:59pm.)

Thank you to all who have applied!

Three fellows will be selected from applicants who are members of the 23 tribes or New Mexico or Hopi.

The Indigenous Digital Archive has just begun a rolling launch. This means that while our software developers are still building out some of the functionality (such as the ability to comment & discuss, what someone's home page looks like, and more) you can already access the site and start seeing what some of the documents look like. We'll be in full launch by the time the fellows begins, with an in-person gathering and working session at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in March 2018.

What's in the archive: Our first round focuses on historic government documents related to the early government Indian boarding schools and Native rights to land and water.

Application: Click here to view a copy of the application form. Please copy and paste this form into a text document and add your answers.

Research topics: Fellows may apply to work on a project related to their family history; topics such boarding school and jurisdiction histories, as the role of the Superintendent of Indian Affairs in Native New Mexico life from 1849-1880, conditions at different government boarding schools, child labor, official racism, arts in the early schools, or what comprised education over time; or a topic of interest to their tribe or to their own research that the documents could help address. We may add to this list of topics.

Webinar: A webinar for potential applicants and others who are interested in making history with the Indigenous Digital Archive was held Thursday October 26, 2017, from noon to 1pm Mountain. For a recording of the webinar click here.

Email List: To join our email list, please click here.

Click here for a full list of documents available in our first launch of the Indigenous Digital Archive.

This pilot project of the IDA Fellows program is funded by a National Leadership Grant of the US IMLS. The Indigenous Digital Archive is a project of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in partnership with the New Mexico State Library Tribal Libraries Program and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Support for the Indigenous Digital Archive is provided by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture with the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, a National Leadership Grant of the IMLS, a Knight Foundation Prototyping Grant, and the New Mexico Historical Records Advisory Board.

Tuesday 2017 October 10

Technology behind the IDA toolkit -- A roundup of links and videos

What we've used to build our Indigenous Digital Archive use case, providing effective access to mass digitized historic government records of the early government Indian boarding schools and Native rights to land and water, is a set of tools that work with each other, the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF), and the Open Annotation standard to improve access through computer generated tags (through OCR and Natural Language Processing) and community sourced tags and annotations.

The Indigenous Digital Archive toolkit is opensource and available to anyone who would like to use part of all for their own online offerings.

This post provides links to check out the technology.


  • a demo of a software tool the Indigenous Digital Archive team developed along the way, a Natural Language Processing tool that we use on our OCR results of the typescript archives. It finds place names, dates, names of people, and we also fed it a list of names of tribes. It uses these to index the documents for the discovery interface. There's more about it in Digirati's blog post.

Thank you for taking a look!

Interested in email updates? Sign up for our (low volume) email newsletter.

We're also on Twitter @NativeDocs, our project director's at @AnnaNaruta, and we're on Facebook at @IndigenousDigitalArchive

Monday 2017 August 28

Talks and Demos of the Indigenous Digital Archive this Fall

The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and Museum of New Mexico Foundation, in collaboration with the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and the State Library Tribal Libraries Program, is creating a free online resource of interest to students, families, researchers, and communities. The Indigenous Digital Archive (IDA) is funded by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the New Mexico Historical Records Advisory Board, and the Knight Foundation. Please join us at one of these public events. Or contact to inquire about scheduling a mini-workshop for your group. Antonio Tapia at Carlisle The Indigenous Digital Archive: Records of the Early Government Boarding Schools and Native Rights to Land and Water

The Indigenous Digital Archive makes archives easier to use than ever before. It opens this fall with detailed records of government policy and actions about the early government boarding schools and the build up to them, and of Native rights to land and water. The IDA allows you to work more naturally and more socially with archives. It creates an environment where, if you wish to share online, you can connect information; enhance individual, family, and community histories; and correct the record and write counter-narratives to what is found in government records. For those who prefer their work to remain private, there is still the ability to easily keep track of and/or cite individual pages, and to share the image of an interesting document on social media.

In this mini-workshop we also introduce the Indigenous Digital Archives Fellows program, which is seeking its first round of applicants from members of the 23 tribes of New Mexico plus Hopi for three Fellowships providing research support for a one year fellowship plus travel support for three in person convenings with fellow researchers at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe.

Santa Fe area:

  • September 19, 2017: New Mexico State Library, 1209 Camino Carlos Rey, Santa Fe, NM 87507, 10am-noon. (Free parking!)
  • September 27, 2017: Northern New Mexico College Library, Española, NM, noon-1pm.


  • September 20, 2017: University of New Mexico, Zimmerman Library, Frank Waters Room, Albuquerque, NM, noon-1pm.

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute Library, Albuquerque, NM, is being rescheduled for October.


A brief overview of what the IDA holds is at Or view the detailed full list of our phase one offerings.

Connect: Facebook: IndigenousDigitalArchive

Twitter: @NativeDocs

The Indigenous Digital Archive is a National Leadership Grant project of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in collaboration with the State Library Tribal Libraries Program and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Funding support is provided by the IMLS, the Knight Foundation, and the New Mexico Historical Records Advisory Board.

Sign up for email updates

Sunday 2017 August 27

User Stories Shaping the Indigenous Digital Archive 1.0

It's been a long road, and now we're looking forward to launching the Indigenous Digital Archive this fall.

To figure out how to make the Indigenous Digital Archive effective to use, we thought about what people have been saying about what they want to do and why, and drew up these user stories to help guide our designers:

A) Sohk'wha, an adult tribal member: Sohk'wha's grandparents attended government boarding schools in the 1900s-1920s, but it was an experience they largely didn't discuss. Sohk'wha would like to use the documents to learn more about his grandparents' lives, and the environment they were in. He would potentially contribute content from his own documents, photos, and other sources he has found, especially to enrich information about his grandparents and their peers. Sohk'wha has friends whose grandparents or parents were in the boarding school system, and collectively they would like to know more about potential shared experiences of their ancestors. For example, were they in the system at the same time? Did they share experiences in workshops, the military-style bands, athletics? When they were on months-long work assignments in the “Outing” program, did they have worksites or bosses or even just geographic areas in common? Sohk'wha is college educated but may not previously have participated in extended primary source research with large collections or with material organized archivally. He knows information from family oral histories and has gathered what he can of family documents and photos.

B) Kwanie, a graduate student and tribal member: Kwanie wants to use the Indigenous Digital Archive to conduct research for her thesis. She hopes to track the development and changes in the US Government policy towards Native people from the Indian Wars and administrations under the Department of War through the creation of boarding schools and, forty years later, the reforms of the boarding schools and the Bureau of Indian Affairs under the Indian New Deal in the 1930s. She is interested in the collaborative potentials of the research, and will be putting in a significant amount of time reading and tagging the documents for her own research. She finds the ability to point to passages with permanent URLs and return to a workscreen with her selected documents useful in communicating with her faculty advisors and in making presentations and engaging in scholarly exchange.

C) Maria, an art historian, curator, and professor: Maria is an expert on contemporary and 19th and 20th century Native American Art. She would like to trace further the development of particular techniques and schools of practice, and finds that to do this it is key to be able to closely study art educators and programs of the Boarding Schools, from the period when Native art first started to be tolerated, through the time when it became an established part of vocational curriculum. She looks forward to being able to discover and to research in the documents detail of the programs' emergence, Native instructors' developing schools of practice, choices of traditional and modern techniques, and students. She feels that having detailed historical knowledge of the contexts of the boarding schools and the governance of the Bureau of Indian Affairs before the enactment of Indian Self-Determination is key to understanding any of the 19th and 20th century museum collections, biographical information, and community histories.

D) Poe, a young person in a tribal community: Poe is in high school and found out about the Indigenous Digital Archive through a program at her local tribal library. She has been experimenting with the documents, reading about government schools in her area. When she reads something about a happening in the school or a policy that was directed towards her tribe, she asks her grandparents if they have heard about this and if it was true. This has become occasion for her grandparents sharing with her many stories about life in their community in decades past, and what their own parents and grandparents overcame. Poe's grandparents have asked her to show them certain things she has been finding, and have asked her if she could find more information about certain topics, such as the farming program in a certain time period and how various decisions were reached.

E) John and Harriet, volunteers / hobbyists: John and Harriet are interested in working with the material in the IDA because they are interested in knowledge and cultural institutions like libraries and museums, are interested in history, and would like to make meaningful and visible contributions to well-run collaborative research projects with clear objectives. John is retired and able to devote significant time to projects that interest him, and Harriet wishes to use part of her spare time to explore interesting material and make contributions to help a larger project make information meaningfully accessible. John and Harriet are interested in the content, and are also willing to work on structural tasks that make the materials more accessible overall, such as marking the beginnings and endings of individual documents in a large series of pages, and marking where years and months begin and end in a series of documents that is arranged chronologically. John has also just introduced the project to a friend who frequently makes presentations on his work at the annual state historical society meetings and is very interested in continuing his research with documents not previously available to him.

F) Whaa pin, a community elder: Whaa pin is a tribal member who himself attended boarding school. He wants to be able to see the records of the school he attended, and the decisions that were made that affected his family and home community. He wants to see what they put on record, and what else can be learned. For him, being able to examine these documents is part of his reconciliation with the times and policies he lived through. He needs a way to look through this information in blocks of time that are right for him, from the convenience of his home or local tribal library. He would perhaps like to connect with others who attended boarding schools in that period. Whaa pin's cousin, a tribal historian, is also interested in being able to access more documents regarding tribal lands and their disposition in the mid-to-late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

G) Arthur, Sam, and Feliciana, a Tribal Librarian, a University Librarian, and a State regional history librarian: While Arthur, Sam, and Feliciana are able to direct inquiring researchers to a selection of secondary sources, prior to the IDA they had no resource to which they could direct individuals trying to find out more in detail about most boarding schools, or about mid-to-late nineteenth and early twentieth century regional history. They are relieved to have a place to direct researchers to that provides primary source material in a setting that doesn't require someone to be already expert at researching with archival material and the special ways in which it is organized. They also find it helpful that directing researchers to highly relevant material no longer requires that the researcher be able to take off work and travel hundreds or thousands of miles.

H) Brook, a College Instructor: Over the course of a semester, Brook typically involves his students in an extended research project. The class takes one main topic, and students work in collaborative groups to conduct original research to address aspects of the topic, write reports, and make presentations. While he conducts student evaluations in part by the assessments members of a group make of each others' work, Brook would be interested to be able to see how many and what tags over what areas of the documents were contributed by particular students.

We look forward to the launch of the Indigenous Digital Archive in Fall 2017. The Indigenous Digital Archive is a project of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and Museum of New Mexico Foundation, in collaboration with the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and the State Library Tribal Libraries Program. The Indigenous Digital Archive (IDA) is funded by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the New Mexico Historical Records Advisory Board, and the Knight Foundation.

Thursday 2017 June 15

Records Made Available through Grant from the New Mexico Historical Records Advisory Board

We've been very fortunate at the Indigenous Digital Archive to receive a grant from the Knight Foundation funding many of the records that will be available on the site when we launch in September 2017. This funding covered many of the records that we wanted to start out with -- mainly records related to the government Indian boarding schools, and the period leading up to them, and records related to land rights. (You can view a more detailed list here.) Luckily, we also received a grant from the New Mexico Historical Records Advisory Board. The NMHRAB allowed us to obtain 51 more reels (approximately 51,000 pages) from the National Archives plus scan some rare microfilm held by the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

The NMHRAB grant project included putting a backup copy online at the Internet Archive. This means that for this selection of reels, you can see them even before the Indigenous Digital Archive (IDA) launches at the end of this summer. But be sure to check them out in the IDA for the full experience, where they'll be easy to use, and you can collaborate with others or share additional or corrective information.

Follow the links for the original finding aids plus samples of the records:

US National Archives microfilm publication M1011: __Superintendent's Annual Narrative and Statistical Reports From Field Jurisdictions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1907-1938__

US National Archives microfilm publication M1070: Reports of Inspections of the Field Jurisdictions of the Office of Indian Affairs, 1873-1900

You can also see more behind-the-scenes photos on our Facebook page

Wednesday 2016 June 22

It's on! IDA receives a National Leadership Grant

We are happy to share the news that the Indigenous Digital Archive project has received a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)! We'll kick off this fall at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (MIAC). Check us out on Twitter at @NativeDocs or sign up for our email list (below) to find out when and how you can participate. We're excited to be working with a top notch software team to build our toolkit to help create effective access to these documents. We'll work with them in the fall to help design the interface.

Working in collaboration with the New Mexico State Library Tribal Libraries Program and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, we'll start with a selection of open public records related to land and to the government Indian Boarding Schools. In our first phase we'll create access to digital images of over 78 linear feet of government records that have not been readily available to the people and communities they relate to.

For more on the project, you can read the announcement from the IMLS (click through for project docs), or see a bit of illustrated information here.. Or contact us! Email info @ , or Twitter @NativeDocs @AnnaNaruta

Looking forward to working with you in Fall 2016!


Tuesday 2015 July 14

Building for Digital Preservation and Interoperability

When you use the Indigenous Digital Archive, these will all just be things under the hood, making things work smoothly and making the information last. But in putting together the project and looking to make sure it has longevity, we're so excited at what's been opened up by incorporating the international standards of Open Annotation and the International Image Interoperability Format (IIIF). This will keep the content - including the annotations you create to add meaning and make things more usable - in a system that allows us to migrate forward when we need to and not get stuck inside a custom built application. In May Indigenous Digital Archive project director and digital archives specialist Dr. Anna Naruta-Moya joined colleagues from Stanford University, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, and the National Library of Wales who presented at the National Gallery of Art in DC on how they're using these international standards to create projects and interfaces both good for the user experience and good for digital preservation. video | @AnnaNaruta

Wednesday 2014 September 17

Welcome! Help Build the Indigenous Digital Archive

Welcome!  You have reached the right place.  We are in the planning stage.  Scroll down to sign up for email updates.

Test texts available online:

Reports of the Superintendent of Santa Fe Indian School, 1910-1922

Reports of the Superintendent of Santa Fe Indian School, 1923-1930

List of Students at SFIS, 1919-1929 (Note: some years missing, but may be available in documents from other series)

Reports of the Superintendent of San Juan Day School, 1922-1926

From the Superintendent's Report, check out all the sewing output that the little girls at the government school at the San Juan Reservation (of the BIA's Northern Navajo Agency) did in the 1922 school year

The Museum of Indian Arts and Cultural (MIAC) is currently applying for IMLS National Leadership Grant funding to support this collaborative project, the Indigenous Digital Archive.  We are building an opensource tool to allow Native American community members and others to individually and collaboratively engage with authentic public documents of community history, government actions, and civic life never before available in New Mexico. 

The project will create free online effective access for federal records that have never before available in New Mexico, documents which have an immediate and direct relation to Native individual and community histories. These records date from the 1830s-1930s and are open. The first round of the project will focus on records related to land and the federal boarding schools and day schools, 1890s-1930, documents which have a great amount of information about individual and community histories.

Software tool for creating meaningful access and building on each other’s learning experiences
These federal records, while individually understandable, are bureaucratically complex in arrangement, and inherently interwoven among different document sets. (The same report may discuss a Pueblo of the north and another of the south, or day schools at Tewa and Dine (aka Navajo) reservations.) This grant project will create an opensource software tool that will interface with pdfs of the records, and allow readers to tag parts of the documents with tags meaningful to them, whether it is the correct spelling of an ancestor’s name, or a topic they’re researching, such as “boarding school deaths” or “running away.”

The documents, while sometimes typewritten, are resistant to OCR, or automatic Optical Character Recognition by computer.

For Native peoples, these records provide information critical to understanding experiences in periods of complex and new and more involved relations with the federal government with long-lasting consequences for individuals and communities. Creating effective access locally is particularly important at this time as this is a window of opportunity where the tribes have the benefit of understanding the records with the input of those who are elders today who were young children at the time of the creation of the later records, and others who still have first-hand stories from their parents or grandparents in the 1920s-1930s and even earlier.

Stay connected! Subscribe for email updates: