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


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.

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    Turtle Island is a name that many American Indian tribes use for the North American landmass.

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    Case 1:96-cv-01285-JR Document 3505 Filed 01/30/2008 Page 45 of 165

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Correspondence to Allison Boucher Krebs.

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Krebs, A.B. Native America’s twenty-first-century right to know. Arch Sci 12, 173–190 (2012).

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  • Archives
  • Indigenous
  • Human rights
  • Museums
  • American Indian
  • Information policy