Resources for Library Instruction to Native American College Students

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Created by Sandra Lee (Sandy) Hawes, BSED(ECE), MA(LIS), Assistant Professor, Distance Learning Reference Librarian, Cannon Memorial Library—MC2128, Saint Leo University, Saint Leo, Florida

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Resources for Library Instruction to Native American College Students
Here is an annotated bibliography of resources to help you understand the learning characteristics of Native American students in higher education and to do a better job of developing library instruction for this population. This bibliography was originally intended for the “Library Instruction for Diverse Populations Bibliography” on the ALA website.
Native American Web Sites of Interest to Instructor Librarians
Tracy Marks' Native American Bookmarks

This site, updated annually by Tracy Marks of Windweaver Internet Training, is a good starting point for instructor librarians seeking background information on a wide range of Native American cultural issues and tribal topics.  These bare-bones links are not annotated but are arranged alphabetically by categories, such as "Best Native American Link Centers," "Literature and Storytelling," and "Native American Miscellany." Recommended with the proviso that the site is only updated once a year.

Native American Higher Education Initiative Web site

“Funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, of Battle Creek, Michigan, the Native American Higher Education Institute (NAHEI) is a partnership of the Foundation, 30 American Indian Tribal Colleges, more than 75 mainstream higher education institutions and community organizations, and four national organizations.” The “links” section provides excellent coverage of the subject, while the “resource” section yields links to instructional resources and informational Web sites. The “news” link offers quick access to tribal issues in the mainstream news. Highly recommended for background information.

American Indian Library Association Web site

This site provides links to other Native Library and Literature Organizations and Resources, as well.

North West Regional Educational Laboratory, Region X Comprehensive Center

This is one of the US Department of Education’s technical assistance centers’ Web sites which “provides training, technical assistance, and research-based information to high-poverty, low-performing schools and districts, Bureau of Indian Affairs schools, and No Child Left Behind Act grant recipients.” It serves Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming school districts. Of particular interest here is the link to Title VII Indian Education Resources. Last updated 1 May 2003.

Northwest Indian College (NWIC) Oksale Program Virtual Library

This is the NWIC Oksale Program Virtual Library link, which includes links to educational resources, library resources, technology tips, and links to related “useful” Web sites. It is part of the NWIC Virtual Library site,, which offers a directory-style approach to resources. You may search by tribe, geography, or subject. Extremely information rich virtual environment specifically designed to meet the information needs of Native American college students, and their faculty and staff members.

Tribal College Librarians Professional Development Institute

Montana State University-Bozeman libraries have hosted institutes for tribal college librarians in Montana and the surrounding region since 1990. This Web site is maintained by the library and includes links to materials found relevant and useful to those who have attended the institutes and will be maintained even if grants for further institutes fail to be procured. Materials are culturally relevant, sensitive, and would be of benefit to any non-Native professional working with Native American college students. Last updated 03 June 03.

Academic Info Native Americans Studies Digital Library—Image Galleries

Advertising and sponsored links are minimal and clearly marked on Academic Info’s commercial Web site. The digital library image gallery for Native American studies includes numerous links to university image galleries, such as the one developed at Montana State University in 1998, as well as museum digital collections of Native American art and archival photographic images. Native American students often prefer visual modality for instruction, making this a one-stop shop for librarians wishing to develop instructional materials for Native American students. Last updated July 2003.


Native American Resources of Interest to Instructor Librarians
Agbo, Seth A. "Enhancing Success in American Indian Students: Participatory Research at Akwesasne as Part of the Development of a Culturally Relevant Curriculum." Journal of American Indian Education. 40, 1 (2001): 31-56.

The research reported here was conducted with Mohawk students in New York state. An extensive review of the literature is presented in which it is evident that results can reliably be generalized to other Aboriginal student groups. It concludes that learning/teaching environments of Native American students need to foster self-esteem, reflect increased academic standards, and provide access to cultural resources, particularly at the local community level. Includes two pages of references.

Aragon, Steven R. "An Investigation of Factors Influencing Classroom Motivation for Postsecondary American Indian/Alaska Native Students." Journal of American Indian Education. 41, 1 (2002): 1-18.

One of a three-part series of articles examining learning styles and factors influencing classroom motivation of Indigenous Peoples, this research reflects conclusions based on analysis of 206 participants. Recommendations for teachers, including teacher librarians, are presented: provide "substantive, informative...[and] summative" feedback during teacher-centered instruction, incorporate equal shares of cooperative and competitive activities in both the classroom and in assignments, and permit student-structured learning experiences which promote transformative learning, encourage emancipatory and social action, and enhance self-esteem. Short list of references.

Banks, James A., and Cherry A. McGee Banks, eds. Handbook of Research on Multicultural Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Co., 2001.

This 882-page handbook is divided into nine multi-chapter parts, with each chapter fully referenced and reviewing the subject literature. The book includes both name and subject indexing. Of particular interest here are Part X, “Higher Education,” Part VIII, “Academic Achievement: Approaches, Theories, and Research,” and, Part VI, “The Education of Ethnic Groups.” Part VI is divided into five chapters, each addressing the specific educational needs of Native American, African American, Mexican American, Puerto Rican American, and Asian Pacific American students. Librarians should address these needs when developing instructional activities.

Brown, Donna. "Tribal Colleges: Playing a Key Role in the Transition from Secondary to Postsecondary Education for American Indian Students." Journal of American Indian Education. 42, 1 (2003): 36-45.

This is one of seven articles contained in a special edition that honors 30 years of American Indian higher education and the founding of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium. The study affirms the importance of two-year tribal colleges for Native American students who successfully pursue a four-year degree or other advanced diplomas. Implications for academic teaching librarians include the necessity of providing remedial research opportunities in a safe, supportive environment, perhaps one-on-one in the librarian's office. Brief references.

Dilevko, Juris, and Lisa Gottlieb. “Making a Difference in Their Own Way: The Role of Library Directors and Non-Directorial Staff at Tribal College Libraries.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship. 28, 5 (September 2002): 306-318.

Tribal colleges have higher retention rates for Native American students than do mainstream four-year institutions. Researchers sent survey questionnaires to 80 tribal college library directors and non-directorial staff. Thirty-three responded. Results suggest that tribal college librarians, directors and staff, play a vital role in supporting a learning community within the tribal reservation culture, which strongly influenced retention rates. Specifically, mainstream academic librarians need to play an active role in developing necessary technical skills in this student population, skills which are required for success at a mainstream, four-year college. Short notes and references.

Echavarria, Tami, and Andrew B. Wertheimer. "Surveying the Role of Ethnic-American Library Associations." Library Trends. 46, 2 (Fall 1997): 373-391.

In addition to surveying the role ethnic American library associations play in promoting and developing a truly multicultural society, teaching librarians will find useful information literacy resources and information on web sites developed and maintained by these groups.

Guerrero, Robert Nathan. “The Strategies of Successful American Indian and Native Learners in the Adult Higher Educational Environment.” In Annual Adult Education Research Conference Proceedings, compiled by Amy Rose. DeKalb, IL: LEPS Press, 1999.

Guerrero’s research report includes some alarming statistics about Native American students: According to the 1990 census, 51 percent finish high school, 24 percent attend college, 3 percent complete college, 1 percent attend graduate school, and only .05 percent attain a Master’s degree. Faculty can influence Native American college students’ academic success by helping them to overcome: a sense of cultural isolation; a legacy of abuse, violence and dysfunction; stereotypes and cultural stigmas; and, financial and skill-based deficits. Academic instructor librarians can be the “caring mentor” (130) to whom these students may come for advice and assistance when confronted by skill deficits. Library learning activities must be culturally relevant. Includes brief bibliography.

Gilbert, W. Sakiestewa. "Bridging the Gap Between High School and College." Journal of American Indian Education. 39 3 (2002): 36-58.

This study presents the results of a five-week intensive, culturally appropriate remedial academy designed for Native American/Alaska Native students. Results may be generalized to any lesson plans for information literacy. Recommendations for curriculum design include group or cooperative learning activities, culturally relevant tasks, and one-on-one tutoring. Metacognition, concentrated learning, cooperative learning, the process approach, and critical thinking activities help these students to overcome cultural differences and succeed in colleges and universities outside the tribal college arena. Four pages of references.

Huffman, Terry. "Resistance Theory and the Transculturation Hypothesis as Explanations of College Attrition and Persistence Among Culturally Traditional American Indian Students." Journal of American Indian Education. 40, 3 (2001): 1-23.

This qualitative research report presents findings on the higher education experiences of 69 American Indian students identifies two primary means by which educators can enhance the success and retention rates of this population. Implications for educational practice include celebrating American Indian ethnicity in curricula and providing culturally appropriate or sensitive counseling. Two pages of references.

Klug, Beverly J. Widening the Circle: Culturally Relevant Pedagogy for American Indian Children. New York, NY: RoutledgeFalmer (2003).

If you’re running short on preparation time, read chapter six, “Refusing to Believe in the Doctrine of Failure: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy for american Indian Children,” and chapter 10, “Conclusions and Recommendations: Effective Schools for American Indian Children.” However, the book also includes a brief history of Native American education, an overview of the various tribal cultures, an essay on the way language and cultural values define personality, case studies, and a look at some ongoing educational concerns in American Indian education. Includes bibliographical references and index.

Koechlin, Carol, and Sandi Zwann. “Focus on Understanding.” Teacher Librarian. 30, 1 (October 2002): 8-13.

Native American students often have self-esteem issues on entering university. Instructor librarians need to create successful as well as challenging information literacy activities that build self-confidence for such students. The authors offer practical advice on creating this type of learning activity with children and young adults; academic librarians may extrapolate to adult and college-age learners.

Koelling, Holly. "A Model Collection Process for a Specialized Environment: Recommending Reference Titles for Tribal Community Colleges." Community & Junior College Libraries. 8, 1 (1995): 63-68.

The article refers to a core collection of materials for a tribal college library that was developed pursuant to the 1989 recommendations of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching report, "Tribal Colleges: Shaping the Future of Native America." Representative titles are presented in Appendix A. Includes short bibliography.

Lambe, Jeff, and Jake Swamp. “Effective Cross-Cultural Dialogue: Challenges and Opportunities.” McGill Journal of Education. 37, 3 (Fall 2002): 423-37.

Lambe and Swamp suggest ways to minimize cross-cultural miscommunication by providing opportunities to engage in “respectful cross-cultural dialogue between Native and non-Native people” (423). Native American spiritual beliefs provide the springboard for the authors’ examination of cross-cultural miscommunication which results from Euro-centric interpretation of Native ideology. They offer a list of 12 suggestions for ways non-Native educators can approach Native teachings in a respectful, culturally sensitive, and meaningful way. Includes bibliography.

Metoyer-Duran, Cheryl. "Tribal Community College Libraries: Perceptions of the College Presidents." The Journal of Academic Librarianship. 17, 6 (January 1992): 364-9.

A survey of presidents of tribal colleges addresses the shortcomings of technological infrastructure at most tribal college libraries in the early 1990s. They suggest ways to develop a pool of Native American librarians, promote programs that will equip Native American students to handle contemporary communications technologies, and develop tribal library collections that reflect the character of local tribes. These suggestions, although still relevant to the profession, provide a longitudinal perspective for librarians serving Native American populations.

Patterson, Lotsee, and Rhonda Harris Taylor. “Tribally Controlled Community College Libraries: A Paradigm for Survival.” College and Research Libraries. 57, 4 (July 1996): 316-329.

A review of the literature reveals the importance of mitigating the isolation felt by most Indigenous students who leave home to attend a mainstream university. This article offers insight into how tribal community college libraries succeed in preparing students for transfer to mainstream institutions in the junior and/or senior year. In addition to general library concerns such as budget, facilities, and patrons, tribal (community) colleges stress remedial academic training and vocational preparation. Tribal college libraries add preservation of traditional tribal culture to their mission and emphasize acquisition of tribal materials, including oral histories preserved on videotape. Mainstream academic libraries would do well to provide similar cultural support to Native American students on their campuses. Includes brief notes.

Pavel, Michael, Susan Rae Banks and Susan Pavel. "The Oksale story: Training teachers for schools serving American Indians and Alaska Natives." Journal of American Indian Education. 41, 2 (2002): 38-47.

One of seven articles in this special issue about Native-controlled higher education, this article reports on a model teacher training program for Native American students that was developed cooperatively by Northwest Indian College (NWIC) and Washington State University. Generalizations that can be applied to library instruction may be drawn by examining the curriculum and resources on the web at <>. No additional references.

Pewewardy, Cornel. "Learning styles of American Indian/Alaska Native students: A review of the literature and implications for practice." Journal of American Indian Education. 41, 3 (2002): 22-56.

This research report provides an overview of the literature on American Indian/Alaska Native students' learning styles and presents specific methodology for faculty to employ with these students to increase motivation and improve success rates. General characteristics of this group include reflexive thinking and decision-making, a disinclination to respond to manipulative forms of classroom management (i.e. rewards and punishments), self-image based on cultural or tribal identity, family-centered reasoning, and a preference for cooperative rather than competitive learning strategies. Teachers should emphasize these strategies when working with this group of students. Includes 15 pages of references.

Rockefeller-MacArthur, Elizabeth. American Indian Library Services. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1998.

This small volume, just 150-odd pages long, grew out of the author’s doctoral dissertation. Mother, Ruth Rockefeller, and husband, Philip MacArthur, prepared the manuscript for posthumous publication. Written in a simple, easy-to-follow style, the author covers the literature surrounding White-Indian contact, the history of library services to Native Americans, American Indian knowledge and artifacts, modern technological barriers, and guidelines for culturally responsive collection development. The appendix presents the Greenville Indian School Library Index for 1916 as a point of comparison. Includes references and index.

Roy, Loriene. “OKSALE: Building a Culturally Responsive Virtual Library of Education Resources for a Tribal College.” Education Libraries. 25, 2 (Winter 2002): 26-8.

Part of an initiative to increase the number of Native American educators from its present one percent, the OKSALE Virtual Library project was created by Roy’s graduate LIS students at the University of Texas at Austin during the spring of 2001. The educational resources portion of the site contains pathfinders developed to support specific courses in the OKSALE program, a Native American teacher education program of the Northwest Indian College in Lummi, Washington. See associated Web sites for OKSALE Virtual Library and Northwest Indian College library resources. Brief references.

Sanchez, Irene M. “Motivating and Maximizing Learning in Minority Classrooms.” In Beyond Access: Methods and Models for Increasing Retention and Learning Among Minority Students, edited by Steven R. Aragon. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers Inc., 2002.

In addition to a general overview of motivation, teacher expectations, student achievement, and learning styles research, Sanchez presents specific recommendations for designing and delivering educational programs for Native American and Hispanic college students. Charts and tables present the written information in a ready-reference format. Table 3.2, page 41, summarizes the learning preferences of Hispanic and Native American students’ at the motivational level, task engagement level, and cognitive strategies level. Good resource for planning culturally relevant and appropriate academic activities. Includes references.

Shields, Carolyn M. “Learning About Assessment from Native American Schools: Advocacy and Empowerment.” Theory Into Practice. 36 (Spring 1997): 102-9.

Historically known to be culturally biased in favor of the mainstream student, standardized assessments need to be supplemented with more authentic forms of evaluating student performance, particularly among Native Americans. Shields relies on the published literature and her own anecdotal investigation of the subject at two Native American schools, where she worked for five years. She concludes that Native American students, with learning styles that favor group activity and the visual modality, are best served by authentic instruction linked closely to authentic evaluation. She suggests that activities and assessments must take the students’ wider community into account, actively engage students in more than paper and pencil assignments, and provide culturally relevant culminating activities that double as assessment outcomes. Includes footnotes and short references.

Szasz, Margaret Connell. Education and the American Indian: The Road to Self-Determination Since 1928. University of New Mexico Press: 1999.

This is the third edition of the title. First published in 1974, this edition is enlarged and revised. It offers a succinct history of federal education programs targeted at Indigenous populations, which emphasized assimilation within the mainstream culture. The chapters “Theory Confronts Reality: Cross-Cultural Education” and “Training Teachers for Cross-Cultural Education” offer a good background for those who teach Native American students, regardless of the subject area. Includes bibliography and index.

Taylor, Rhonda Harris, and Lotsee Patterson. "Using Information Literacy To Promote Critical Thinking." Teacher Librarian. 28, 2 (December 2000): 9-14.

Teacher librarians are given ways to combat stereotypical Native American representations by employing critical thinking skills in their information literacy programs, as well as critically evaluating collections. Librarians are admonished to include Native American authors and viewpoints, specifically videos that present oral histories and preserve the language and culture of Indigenous Peoples. Includes suggested resources and web sites.

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