Archival Science

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 173–190 | Cite as

Native America’s twenty-first-century right to know

  • Allison Boucher KrebsEmail author
Original paper


More than 30 years ago, in October of 1978, Standing Rock Sioux scholar Vine Deloria Jr. prepared a paper for The White House Pre-conference on Indian Library and Information Services On or Near Reservations titled “The Right to Know.” In his paper, Deloria establishes the United States Federal government’s treaty responsibility for Indian Country’s:

…need to know; to know the past, to know the traditional alternatives advocated by their ancestors, to know the specific experiences of their communities, and to know about the world that surrounds them (Deloria 1978, p. 13).

Deloria called for “direct funding from the federal government to tribes for library, information and archival services…[specifying that] every effort should be made in joint planning to transmit the major bulk of records dealing with tribal histories to modern and adequate facilities on reservations” (p. 13). Deloria warned us that “Authorizing the development of libraries, archives, and information centers and dividing existing federal records among these groups will require sophisticated and intelligent planning by the persons concerned” (p. 15). One decade into the twenty-first century, this paper analyzes two catalytic initiatives relating to this Indigenous “right to know” funded—at least partially—by the US Federal government:
  • Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Grants to Indian Tribes

  • Fourth Museum of the National Museum of the American Indian.

It places these initiatives within the broader Indigenous knowledge ecology.


Archives Indigenous Human rights Museums American Indian Information policy 


  1. Carter NC (2003) American Indians and law libraries: acknowledging the third sovereign. Law Libr J 94(1):7–26Google Scholar
  2. Cooper KC (2008) Spirited encounters: American Indians protest museum policies and practices. AltaMira, LanhamGoogle Scholar
  3. Deloria V (1969) Custer died for your sins: an Indian manifestoGoogle Scholar
  4. Deloria V (1970) We talk, you listen. The Macmillan Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Deloria V (1974) Behind the trail of broken treaties: an Indian declaration of independenceGoogle Scholar
  6. Deloria V (1975) God is red: a native view of religion. Dell Publication Co, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Deloria V (1979) The metaphysics of modern existence. Harper & Row, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  8. Deloria V (1994) The nations within: the past and future of American Indian sovereigntyGoogle Scholar
  9. Deloria V (1995) Red earth, white lies: Native Americans and the myth of scientific fact. Scribner, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Deloria V (2006) The world we used to live in: remembering the powers of the medicine men. Fulcrum Publication, ColoGoogle Scholar
  11. Deloria V, DeMallie RJ (1999) Documents of American Indian diplomacy: treaties, agreements, and conventions, 1775–1979. University of Oklahoma Press, NormanGoogle Scholar
  12. Deloria V, Lytle CM (1984) The nations within: the past and future of American Indian sovereignty. Pantheon Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  13. Deloria V, United States and White House Pre-Conference on Indian Library and Information Services On or Near Reservations (1978) The right to know: a paper. Office of Library and Information Services, U.S. Department of the Interior, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  14. Deloria V, Wildcat DR (2001) Power and place: Indian education in America. Fulcrum Publication, ColoGoogle Scholar
  15. Force RW (1999) Politics and the museum of the American Indian: the Heye and the mighty. Honolulu, MechasGoogle Scholar
  16. Green R (2006) Indians and museums: where we were, where we are, where we are going.
  17. Holm T, Pearson JD, Chavis B (2003) Peoplehood: a model for the extension of sovereignty in American Indian Studies. Wicazo Sa Rev 18(1):7–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. IMLS (2011) Grant recipients. Retrieved 22 Feb 2011. From
  19. Smithsonian Institution (1991) NMAI Act Appendix G: Repatriation Policy Statement.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Information SchoolUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

Personalised recommendations