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American Indian History: Home


This guide will help you find resources available through the Alverno library related to American Indian history. Please call, email, or visit the library for help. 

Logging in from off campus? Use the 14 digit barcode on your student ID to log in and access our databases, ebooks, ejournals, and place requests through TOPCAT from off campus. Click here for help.

Have a suggestion for this guide? Send it to Larry (414) 382-6173.

Books & Ebook

TOPCAT  (our library catalog) is best for finding books, reference books, CDs, DVDs, journals, and some of our ebooks and ejournals. You'll also find items held by other SWITCH libraries, which you can request online.


  • Use the Advanced Search option
  • Start with broad search terms, as you become more familiar with the topic, get more specific
  • Start with broad search terms, use the limiters on the left of the results page to narrow your results
  • When searching for ebooks, make sure to limit the library to Alverno (or use Ebook Central)
  • Use the listed subject headings. Find a result that's similar to what you want, look at the subject terms it uses, try those in your search instead.
    • "Indians of North America" seems to be the most commonly used subject term, try using that in a subject search


Ebook Central is our main ebook provider. Everything you find here is immediately accessible for your as an Alverno patron. You can access Ebook Central from off campus by logging into your TOPCAT account.


  • Create a free login on Ebook Central to download books or save them to your virtual bookshelf
  • If you download books, you'll need Adobe Digital Editions to read them on your computer
  • If you make notes/highlight as you read, we HIGHLY recommend you chose the read online option and save the book to your bookshelf
    • This saves your notes/highlighting forever. If you annotate in a downloaded ebook, everything is deleted when your checkout term is over. 
  • Use the Subjects and dropdown Focus recommendations to build your wordbank
  • Try this: "Native American" AND Wisconsin


Not an Alverno student? If you have an MPL card you can access EBSCO's eBook collection.

Both CREDO and GALE VIRTUAL REFERENCE LIBRARY (GVRL) contain full text access to electronic reference materials. In both databases, you can browse by subject/topic, browse by title, or keyword search.

Not an Alverno student? If you have an MPL card you can access GVRL through them.

Finding Articles & Primary Sources

AMERICAN INDIAN EXPERIENCE has a lot of fantastic information, including articles, biographies, timelines, images, videos, maps, speeches, political documents, newspapers, and more. This is a great place to start for primary source documents as well as background essays.


  • This one is easier to use by browsing rather than keyword searching
  • You can browse by topic, perspective, or library
  • Under the library tab you can zero in on specific states, tribes, and document type

JSTOR contains a wide-range of information related to the humanities. It is a go-to database for many students.


  • Use Advanced Search
  • Keep your searches broad at first, use the filter options to narrow your results
  • JSTOR doesn't show you the subject terms, so you might have to build your word bank before coming here, that way you'll have plenty of terms to try if your first search doesn't work

Try This

  • Search: Music AND "Ho-Chunk"
  • Search: "American Indians" AND Wisconsin
  • Search: "American Indians" AND Wisconsin AND Oneida


  • Choose an EBSCO database from the Databases A-Z list (like Academic Search Premier)
  • Click "Choose Databases" above the search bar
  • Select additional EBSCO databases that could be useful for you
    • Think outside the box - maybe you're a history student, but could an education database be helpful? What about science? Psychology?
  • Start with Advanced Search, look at the predictive text that drops down when you start typing for ideas on building up your word bank
  • Look at the SUBJECT terms included in the results list, add relevant ones to your word bank
  • Use the limits on the left, including PEER REVIEWED, FULL TEXT, and PUBLICATION DATE
  • Some EBSCO databases have a Thesaurus Tool - check your terms there if you're not sure where to start
  • From within an article record you can open the full text, email the article to yourself, print, copy the permalink, add it to your folder (NOTE: folders require you to create a free EBSCO account), or copy the APA citation (double check this for errors!)

Not an Alverno student? MPL subscribes to many of the same EBSCO databases. If you have an MPL card, check your access through them.

TEACHING BOOKS is an excellent database for finding materials to bring into the classroom. You can search by genre, age group, keyword, and more. Many books are also accompanied by lesson plans, author interviews, reading guides, and other downloadable material. It has an excellent module on diverse books as well.


  • Go to "Browse by Subject or Genre" and select "American Indian Studies"
  • This brings you to a collection of award winning and recommended titles, filterable by grade level
  • Click into a book to see what resources accompany the title

Not an Alverno student? If you have an MPL card you can access Teaching Books through them.

We know we can't stop you from using Google, but we can help you use it in a better way. Use the link to GOOGLE SCHOLAR that's on the library homepage. This is synced to our databases, so if we have full text, it should give you a link. What you find in Google Scholar is, by default, of a higher caliper than what you find in regular Google.

This is also a great way to check for full text if you find a citation elsewhere. If Google Scholar doesn't lead you to the full text, contact the library for help getting a free copy of the resource you want.

Audio Visual Materials

ARTSTOR is an incredible database for finding free, high quality images. You can include these images in projects that serve an educational purpose without worrying about copyright, but you still have to cite them! All you need to do is create a free login to download the images you want to use.

For help citing images, check the Citing Sources LibGuide.

SMITHSONIAN GLOBAL SOUND is another fantastic resource for finding primary sources and other audio material.


  • Browse by place, limiting first to the United States
  • Click the "More +" button under the Cultural Group heading, check for tracks related to the tribe you're studying
  • To quickly find a tribe on this list, hit CTRL+F and start to type their name in the box that pops up
    • HINT: go slowly - there may be multiple spelling variations that you'll miss if you type the word too quickly (ex: Ojibwe and Ojibwa)

Other Websites

Created from the Newberry Library's collections, this site features an easy to use interface for researching the Indian tribes of Wisconsin and the surrounding states.

  • Native American Heritage Month
    This site, created by a number of national government institutions, is designed around Native American Heritage Month but is a great resource year round. Check here for highlights from the year's celebrations, exhibits & collections, images, audio/video material, and resources specifically for teachers.
  • Milwaukee Public Library Resource List
    MPL's short list of texts on Native American History with some additional suggestions for both adults and children.
  • Wisconsin Department of Health Services: American Indians in Wisconsin – History
    A brief overview of the history of Wisconsin American Indians. At the bottom of this page you'll find links to other sections on the DHS' site that include information on health and population as well as a number of links to other sites and resources.
  • Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction: American Indian Studies Program
    A thorough overview of what's expected for the Wisconsin Educational Act 31 as well as a number of resources that will help you educate yourself and prepare to meet the standard. You'll find upcoming events, formal instruction options, and several great opportunities to serve as a tribal educational liaison. This site also links to fact sheets, state statutes, a resource page, a listserv sign up, and much more!
  • Digital Public Library of America: Upper Midwest 19th Century Native American Narratives
    DPLA hosts a number of special exhibits, one focused on the tribes of the Upper Midwest. It's broken down into several different themes that can be browsed at your leisure. You can also keyword search the DPLA site to look for more information on a specific topic or tribe.
  • Milwaukee Public Museum: Anthropology Collections & Research
    MPM has several large anthropology collections that focus on American Indian history. Much of these materials have been digitized and are available online. You can also make an appointment to do research in person.
  • Milwaukee Public Museum: Indian Country Wisconsin
    MPM also created a project designed specifically to help teachers meet the Wisconsin Educational Act 31. It has resources on culture, history, sovereignty, and current day communities.
  • Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian
    A digital library collection produced by Northwestern University, this site provides access to narrative text and photogravure images.
  • Stockbridge-Munsee Community: Band of Mohican Indians
    A regularly updated site with events, election information, news, and more from the Stockbridge-Munsee community.
  • Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council Inc.
    The GLITC was formed in the 1960s as an effort to unify tribes in the interest of providing better services and to bolster a sense of solidarity in their dealings with the U.S. government. The organization consists of 12 federally recognized tribes which represent six nations on twelve reservations. Check here for information on their programs and events, the member tribes, resource links, and a tribal map.
  • Best Websites for Education
    Check the library's Best Websites for Education page for more help finding resources and forming lesson plans. The sites on this page won't help you find scholarly articles, but they're full of reliable, trustworthy information that can make your life easier and more productive!

WI Educational Act 31

map of wisconsin with tribe names

MPM created a project designed specifically to help teachers meet the Wisconsin Educational Act 31. It has resources on culture, history, sovereignty, and modern communities.

DPI Book

Classroom Activities on Chippewa Treaty Rights.

This book from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has activities for students aged K-12.

How do I know if it's a reference book?

We have a reference collection in the library, but you’ll also find many reference books in our general collection.

Here’s a basic list of things that qualify as reference materials:

  • almanacs
  • atlases
  • bibliographies
  • citation manuals
  • dictionaries
  • directories
  • encyclopedias
  • guidebooks
  • handbooks
  • indexes
  • manuals
  • statistics
  • yearbooks

How do I know if it's a primary source?

"Primary sources provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. They are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented. Often these sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring, but primary sources can also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories recorded later."

(via Yale)

Search Term Worksheet

Library Information

Need more help?

-Stop in for 1-on-1 help. Hours, Staff Directory & Location
-Call the reference desk at (414) 382-6062
-Library Home Page

A word about terminology

When discussing and researching cultural groups, terminology needs to be taken into careful consideration. In many of the materials you find, you will see the terms American Indian, First Nations Peoples, Native American, Native Peoples, and Indigenous Peoples. These tend to be among the preferred terms by today's standards, though there is still an impassioned debate within the community. In some materials, especially older items, you will also see terminology that is no longer used or is now considered inappropriate or offensive. Please be aware of this and take this into consideration when you start your own writing. If you are unsure of what terminology to use, ask your instructor for guidance.