The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center‘s  Institute for Pueblo Indian Studies Library & Archives is not a typical archive.  The Institute is owned and operated by the nineteen Pueblos of New Mexico, but it is not a repository for the Pueblos. Instead, the Institute manages holdings about general history related to the Pueblos.  Plus, they use these holdings to train tribal librarians on researching, arranging, and describing collections.  The Institute is supporting:

  • Santa Clara Pueblo and Jemez Pueblo with archives,
  • Cochiti Pueblo with library holdings,
  • Laguna Pueblo on processing photographs,
  • Acoma Museum with maps donated by the Bebo Family,
  • Pojoaque Pueblo on building a research library for curators,
  • Approached by the Zuni Tribal Council (this is an honor!) to assist the archiving of governor papers,
  • And will begin supporting Taos Pueblo plus the Mescalero (Apache) and Navajo tribes.   

In addition to these trainings, the Institute has worked to gain control of their own collections with the support of two grants from Administration for Native Americans (ANA).  If you imagine a room filled with donations from the past forty years in boxes from ceiling to floor, you’ll have a good idea of the work they’re doing!  One of the first tasks was weeding out monographs that had a patronizing focus on arts and crafts.  The Center has a mission to express Pueblo and other Native communities as living cultures not a subject heading in the anthropology section.  

Mission: To preserve and perpetuate Pueblo culture and to advance understanding by presenting with dignity and respect, the accomplishments and evolving history of the Pueblo people of New Mexico.

This archive has 2.5 staff (two of which have retired from UNM’s Center for Southwest Research and bring over 50 years experience in archives), but has had as many as 30 volunteers working at one time.  In 2014, 8,000 hours were worked by volunteers alone!  Staff and volunteers use five separate LibraryThing accounts to catalog books, architectural documents, maps, postcards, and finally photographs and illustrations. LibraryThing is easy for volunteers to navigate, and provides MARC records which can be exported to a more robust system when the time comes.

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Some books from their library.

They’re also gearing up for a digitization project in partnership with Department of Cultural Affairs, Museum of Native Americans, NM State Library Tribal Libraries Program, Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, and the Knight Foundation.  The goal is to begin an Indigenous Research Database that provides open access to government records relating to the Pueblo Lands Board (1920-1940s), New Mexico Indian Schools, and Agency Records.

The Institute is also building two physical collections.  The first is a brain trust entitled the Joe Sando Legacy Collection.  This collection of 200 papers includes scholarship either by Pueblo authors, about a significant Pueblo topic, or conducted by a researcher who worked with Pueblo tribes to develop their methodologies.  The second collection are vertical files arranged by topic, from Acoma to Zuni, with Natural Resources and Law Enforcement in between.  These files track news, history and culture including biographies, interviews, obituaries, and other notices from the year 2000 forward.  These two collections are incredible resources for students, help help take Native culture out of the box of history, and increase the agency and voice of Native communities.

If you’re ever in Albuquerque, stop by for the amazing food, Native American dances every weekend of the year, and schedule a visit to see the Institutes’ collections.
~Marie Andrews



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