American Indian Studies - Advanced Guide


Land Acknowledgement

The University of Minnesota - Twin Cities is built on a portion of the traditional homelands of the Dakota people. The word "Minnesota" is derived from the Dakota name for the area, Mni Sota Makoce, meaning, Land Where the Waters Reflect the Sky. The University of Minnesota - Twin Cities was built upon land obtained through broken treaties, coercion, and without consent.

To learn more about how this came about read: Where We Stand: The University of Minnesota and Dakhóta Treaty Lands by Čhaŋtémaza (Neil McKay) and Monica Siems McKay. 

How to move forward from here? 

  • Support reparations efforts that honor tribal sovereignty and communities.
  • Support free tuition for Native students (not just Minnesota students, because most Dakota people were exiled from Minnesota following the war of 1862, and have not returned. This is still their land.).
  • Support returning ownership of the land the UMN campus sits on to the Dakota people. (For more on free tuition for Native students and returning ownership to Native peoples read: Beyond the Land Acknowledgement by Megan Red-Shirt Shaw.)
  • The language of a people is core to understanding their culture, values, and history. Find ways to support language revitalization efforts of native languages in your area. 

Introduction to American Indian Studies

American Indian Studies is a highly interdisciplinary field that focuses on history, culture, politics, issues, spirituality, and contemporary lives of the Native peoples of North America. Using a critical lens American Indian Studies draws from historical, anthropological, literary, political science and law sources to examine the relationship with colonizing societies, fight for political sovereignty, give voice to indigenous ways of knowing, and work for the good of Native peoples.

From the UMN American Indian Studies department: Through the exploration of indigenous narratives, heritage, and history, we strive to restore and promote the importance of American Indians in everyday life.

Search terms and strategies

Whether you are searching in library databases, the library catalog, Google Scholar, or just plain Google, creating a good search query will help you to find relevant information. 

General search terms

General terms work well when starting your research, finding information that is not about a specific tribe, community or group, or when using a smaller database.

  • American Indian
  • Native American
  • Indigenous
  • First Nations (often used for indigenous groups in Canada)
  • First Peoples

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Library of Congress Subject Headings can be particularly helpful when search library catalogs, archives, and digital collections. You can pair a subject heading search with additional subjects like education, folklore, languages, history, legal status, music, politics and government, social life and customs, and treaties, or with geographic locations like Great Plains or Minnesota.

Each item on the bulleted list below links to the UMN library search by Library of Congress Subject Heading.

Specific search terms for Native groups with lands in Minnesota

Using more specific terms will yield fewer results, but the results will be more relevant to your topic. Searching by the names of tribes and nations is one way to find more specific information. However, some information, particularly historic information may be found using names that are no longer considered the proper terms.

For more information on terminology describing American Indian groups in Minnesota try the Why Treaties Matter Terminology Primer.

Terms used for Native American groups and nations in Minnesota:

  • Dakota Indians 
  • Sioux
  • Ojibwe (sometimes Ojibwa, Ojibway) 
  • Chippewa
  • Anishinaabe

List of federally recognized Indian tribes in Minnesota.

Use the Native Land map to view ancestral lands and the effects of treaties on tribal boundaries.

Creating a search query

For most databases and even Google you can combine search terms to write a search query that databases understand. A good search query will give you a good selection of highly relevant results. Below are a few examples.

  • Use quotation marks to search words as a phrase, ex. "American Indians"
  • Use the word AND to link together concepts, ex. "American Indians" AND treaties
  • Use the word OR to search for synonyms, ex. "American Indians" OR "Native Americans"
Last Updated: Feb 6, 2023 5:24 PM