Trying to sum up the history of American Indians in a few short paragraphs is practically impossible. There are so many different tribes out there with varying histories that a simple article could barely scratch the surface of all there is to know about these fascinating cultures.
Where to Find Information about Native Americans History
Fortunately, there are quite a few different resources out there that center around the history of Native Americans. Tapping into these resources can provide you with deeper insight into the culture, lifestyle, and struggles that many different tribes have faced over the years. In some cases, those tribes are still facing struggles today. If you are at all interested in history, these types of studies can be extremely fascinating and informative. The more you learn about these cultures, the more compassion and empathy you will have for all of the challenges that they have faced throughout the centuries.
1. Library of Congress
One of the best places to start your research is through the Library of Congress. They have many of their publications available online, making it easy to search for the information that you need. One thing that helps set these resources apart from random information that you can find online is that the information contained within them is most likely trustworthy since the vast majority of books undergo intense scrutiny before being published.
2. Local Library
If you can’t find the information that you need through the Library of Congress, you can also try turning to your local library. Typically, public libraries have a nice selection of history books available, making them a good resource for learning about different time periods in the evolution of the United States. Usually, these books will touch on the plight of Native Americans as they cover varying topics throughout history. You may have to do a little bit of digging to find what you are looking for. However, in the long run, many of these history books can provide valuable insight into the development of these cultures over the years.
3. Talk to a Librarian
If your local library doesn’t have the books that you are interested in, you should consider talking to a librarian. They may be able to borrow any books that you are interested in from nearby libraries. Typically, libraries have book exchanges set up that allow them to lend books back-and-forth between branches. This can open up a much larger selection of books for doing further research.
4. University Library
If you have a college or university in your area, you may also want to consider paying a visit to the university library. In most cases, these libraries will have a far more extensive selection of history books available to browse. Typically, universities will allow you to enter the library without a student ID as long as you present a government issued photo ID at the front desk. Unfortunately, you most likely will not be allowed to borrow any of the books without a student ID. However, you can still make photocopies of any pages that are of particular interest to you. Usually, visitor hours at the library are limited to certain times of the day. Be sure to check what the policies are for your university library before visiting so that you don’t wind up wasting a trip.
5. Watch Documentaries
If you are a visual learner, you may also benefit from watching documentaries about American Indians. Over the years, countless different documentaries have been made that look at the history of many different tribes. This can be a good way to delve deeper into one particular culture. Sometimes, being able to see video footage makes things much clearer and easier to understand than simply reading about it in a book. The only downside to documentaries is that they may be difficult to find. However, with a little bit of searching, you should be able to locate one that you can either watch online, rent, borrow, or purchase outright.
If you are the type of person that likes to interact with people directly, you may be able to conduct interviews with tribal elders or with other people who may be familiar with the history of a particular tribe. For instance, there may be a college professor that specializes in Native American history. Being able to set aside time to meet with them can provide you with a lot of valuable information in a short period of time. Just be sure to respect the time of anyone that you interview. After all, they are taking time out of their busy day to give you the information that you need. Show up for your interview on time and always treat them with respect throughout the questioning process. If you plan on recording the interview, be sure to get their permission before you do so. This will help keep them from feeling blindsided if you pull out a tape recorder or video camera.
Learning more about the history of American Indians can help you gain a broader understanding of their role in the development of the country as it exists today. There are many stories about Native Americans from a variety of different time periods out there. Some of the stories are tragic and others are inspiring. Only by reading them all can you come to appreciate everything that these groups of people have experienced over the years. With so many incredible educational resources available, the hardest part is deciding which ones to use for your research. A combination of many different research methods will typically give you the best results.