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Category: Native Americans

“Language is Life” and Native American Historical Voices

Posted by: Wendi Maloney

The Library and three Native American tribes are collaborating on a project to digitize and restore some 9,000 wax cylinder recordings of Native Americans singing and telling stories from more than a century ago. The work is the subject of "Language is Life," a documentary narrated by Joy Harjo, the former U.S. poet laureate. It premiered at the Library in November in advance of its broadcast as part of the PBS series, “Native America.”

Three Marines, all Navajo Code Talkers, pose with weapons in a World War II photo

World War II’s Navajo Code Talkers, In Their Own Words

Posted by: Neely Tucker

Some of the U.S. military's best intelligence assets during both World Wars were Native American troops who used their own, unwritten languages as the basis for coded radio messages. These Code Talkers, particularly Navajo Marines, were invaluable in the Pacific theater of World War II. Twenty-nine Navajo Code Talkers were later awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Many of these soldiers' personal stories are preserved in the LIbrary's Veterans History Project.

Image of an ornate clock showing 2:05 with sculpted male figures sitting on each side of the clock face

The Soldier’s Letter: The Civil War from the Western Frontier

Posted by: Neely Tucker

The Library recently acquired a rare surviving copy of the complete run of a Civil War regimental newspaper, the Soldier's Letter of the 2nd Colorado Cavalry of the American military. More than a hundred regiments on both sides of the conflict printed at least one edition of a camp newspaper, but few survive and a complete run of one paper is even harder fo find today. The four-page Soldier's Letter, staunchly against slavery and the Confederacy, ran for 50 editions between 1864 until after the war ended in 1865. Though mostly concerned with the regiment's history and daily details of camp life, the paper shows that soldiers were more concerned about warring Native American tribes than they were Confederate units, and they would eventually form a military bridge between the Civil War and the Indian Wars that followed.

Library Acquires Rare Codex from Central Mexico

Posted by: Neely Tucker

Theft, fraud, harassment, withholding of payment — courts around the world hear these charges all the time. Yet, they’re far from modern. The Library’s newly acquired San Salvador Huejotzingo Codex, for example, documents a legal proceeding from 1571 in which Indigenous Nahuatl officials in central Mexico accused their village’s Spanish administrator of these very same …

Image of an ornate clock showing 2:05 with sculpted male figures sitting on each side of the clock face

Lakota “Winter Count” Artistry

Posted by: Mark Hartsell

The winter counts created by some Native American peoples chronicle centuries of their history in pictures: battles fought, treaties struck, buffalo hunts, meteor showers, droughts, famines, epidemics. The counts — painted mostly on buffalo hides until the species was hunted to nearextinction in the late 19th century — served as a way for tribes of …

Image of an ornate clock showing 2:05 with sculpted male figures sitting on each side of the clock face

Harjo, Library Honored by Native American Tribal Association

Posted by: Brett Zongker

The Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums has presented one of its most significant awards to the Library and former U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo for “Living Nations, Living Words,” Harjo’s signature project during her 2019 to 2022 term. Harjo, the first Native American to hold the nation’s poet laureate position, was honored with …

Image of an ornate clock showing 2:05 with sculpted male figures sitting on each side of the clock face

Indigenous Cultures at the Library: Kislak Family Foundation Gives $10 Million for New Gallery

Posted by: Brett Zongker

The Kislak Family Foundation is donating $10 million to create a new exhibition at the Library that will share a fuller history of the early Americas, featuring the Jay I. Kislak Collection of artifacts, paintings, maps, rare books and documents, the Library announced today. The new Kislak Gallery will be part of a reimagined visitor …

Image of an ornate clock showing 2:05 with sculpted male figures sitting on each side of the clock face

A Fond Farewell to John Hessler, LOC Polymath

Posted by: Wendi Maloney

Every institution has its institutions, and one of the Library’s is John Hessler, who will retire from the Geography and Map Division at the end of this month. He holds many titles, official and unofficial. One of the official ones is curator of the Jay I. Kislak Collection of the Archaeology & History of the …