Library Resources Celebrating Native American Heritage Month 2020

November is National Native American Heritage Month, a month-long holiday to commemorate Indigenous cultural legacies and provide a platform to honor Indigenous peoples. In the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Indigenous communities were disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. This is still the case. As of October 27, 2020, Indian Health Services reported 68, 419 positive cases. Speaking to Indigenous resilience and community mobilization, the Seneca Nation of Indians, one of 11 Indigenous Nations situated in what is now New York State, created a COVID-19 Response website that includes FAQ information for Senecas on their 3 territories and also a live GIS statistic map of positive cases. 

Stony Brook University Libraries has various Indigenous resources. Below is a small sample.

VIDEO RESOURCES 

Hollywood Et Les Indiens (2015) – available online

In this feature-length documentary, Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond takes an entertaining and insightful look at the portrayal of North American Indigenous people throughout a century of cinema. Featuring hundreds of clips from old classics as well as recent releases, the film traces the evolution of the ‘Hollywood Indian.’ Diamond guides the audience on a journey across America to some of cinema’s most iconic landscapes and conducts candid interviews with celebrities like Clint Eastwood, Robbie Robertson and Jim Jarmusch. The film is a loving look at cinema through the eyes of the people who appeared in its very first flickering images and have survived to tell their stories in their own way.

La Ofrenda: The Days of the Dead (1988) – available online

A first and thorough look at the Mexican celebration of the dead, the sacred days when the souls of the departed return to visit the living. Tracing the Days of the Dead tradition from its roots in Indian culture to its manifestations in contemporary Chicano communities, this unconventional and visually arresting documentary contemplates the loving and sometimes humorous Mexican cultural attitudes toward “that constant companion,” death.

Seneca reflections: 150 years of woman’s rights (1998) – Inter-Library Loan only

At the 150th anniversary of the First Woman’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, participants were asked to put the 1848 convention in perspective for a contemporary audience. This is a rare tribute to the remarkable women, past and present, whose lives have furthered the cause of women’s rights. Includes the voices of Betty Friedan, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Donna Shalala, Sally Roesch Wagner, Judy Wellman, Coline Jenkins-Sahlin, and Karen Staser.

Traveling the Distance: The Shinnecock 50th Anniversary Pow Wow and its People (1997) – Inter-Library Loan only

In 1996 during the Shinnecock 50th Anniversary Labor Day Pow Wow two Long Island filmmakers were given permission for the first time to film this historic event. It features dancers ablaze in colorful regalia, representing spirits, animals or tribal affiliation; ancestral chanting accompanied by the ever-present beat of the drum singing the song of the universe. The film offers a glimpse into an ancient ceremony that links present-day islanders to their Native American past.

RESOURCES IN SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES

Map of New Netherland (1841)

Map of New Netherland which was annexed to the Memorial presented to the States General on the 18th August, 1816, by the “Benindhebbers van Nieuq-Nederlandt,” praying for a special Octroy according to the placaat of 12 March, 1614, shewing the extend of the discoveries made by Schipper Cornelis Hendricksen. 

Beverly Jensen’s (Shinnecock) Shinnecock Indian Nation (2015) 

The history of the “People of the Shore” detailed in Shinnecock Indian Nation. The Shinnecock have resided along the shores of eastern Long Island for more than 10,000 years. These hunter-gatherers were also skilled whalers who first tackled the Atlantic in their dugout canoes and later became highly regarded crew members on 19th-century whaling ships that sailed the globe. The Shinnecock were also noted wampum makers, using the northern quahog hard-shelled clam and whelk shells to craft some of the finest-quality wampum beads to be found anywhere along the eastern seaboard. Since the first tall ships sailed into the local waters in the 1500s, new settlers and shifty land deals have diminished the ancestral territory of the Shinnecock Indian Nation. Despite overwhelming odds, however, and in the midst of immense privilege and wealth of their Hamptons neighbors, the Shinnecock remain. They are a federally recognized tribe with more than 1,500 enrolled members and are governed by a seven-member council of trustees.

John A. Strong’s The Unkechaug Indians of Eastern Long Island: A History (2011) 

This book examines the 18th-century interaction between the Unkechaug and colonial settlers, including efforts of Christian missionaries to erase traditional religion and the ensuing changes in Unkechaug life. It further addresses 20th-century issues and concludes with the Unkechaug’s successful court battle in 2008 in which they earned sovereign immunity.

Dana Reijerkerk

Knowledge Management & Digital Asset Librarian at Stony Brook University Libraries
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