There is a long tradition of Native American and Indigenous communities engaging with European print culture since that technology was brought to the Americas over 500 years ago; Native people have engaged with print as authors, editors, illustrators, bookbinders, and printers. This utilization of new technologies was not the beginning of Indigenous theorizing. Rather, it was and remains an extension of the Indigenous theory-making and knowledge dissemination which Indigenous peoples have engaged in since time immemorial.

The Collection of Native American Literature comprises a network of Native writers engaging with one another across place and time. Authors and their texts meld and clash in ways which capture the complexity, breadth, and diversity of Indigenous thought and theory throughout Turtle Island. Since the acquisition of the personal library of Pablo Eisenberg in 2013, Amherst College Archives & Special Collections has actively and intentionally built a collection of books, newspapers, and other printed materials authored by Native American writers, artists, and creators of all kinds. What began with the purchase of 1,400 books from a single collector has expanded to nearly 3,500 books, ranging from sermons published in the 18th century to comic books and zines published this year. Books are acquired through purchase and gift; we strive to acquire material directly from authors, tribal communities, and Native-owned bookstores whenever possible.

Why Maps?

Leveraging standard library cataloging, which includes a statement of the Place of Publication (260 field), this project intervenes in traditional Library and Information Science practices to better represent the situated-knowledge of Indigenous writing. Specifically, we work with mapping tools to locate and situate the place-based knowledges which we steward within this collection.