On the record: Project by NM museum, National Archives posts 374 US-tribal treaties online - Albuquerque Journal

On the record: Project by NM museum, National Archives posts 374 US-tribal treaties online

An 1890s map of California shows land transfer agreements between the U.S. and Native nations. The treaties and other documents can be explored by place, tribe or date at DigiTreaties.org, a new project of the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture in collaboration with the National Archives and Records Administration. (Courtesy of US National Archives)

When it comes to records, accessibility is the key.

That’s why the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture teamed up with the National Archives and Records Administration on the new online tool “DigiTreaties.”

According to MIAC, the resource expands access to 374 ratified Indian treaties digitized from NARA’s holdings and provides context and tools for working with the treaties online at digitreaties.org.

“The treaties between the U.S. and Native nations are relevant, and few people have had access to know about treaties that are related to where they live,” says Della Warrior (Otoe-Missouria), MIAC director. “MIAC is pleased to be able to provide this online resource that we all can use to explore our relationships using maps and a carefully curated set of historical documents from the National Archives, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, and other sources. This is part of a multiyear project we’re undertaking to provide more access online to historic documents often otherwise unavailable to the people and communities to which they relate, and often which have impacts and continuing legacies today.”

The online tool adds to the established Indigenous Digital Archive, which is a collaboration with MIAC, the New Mexico State Library, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and the New Mexico History Museum.

The National Archives Foundation, a nonprofit partner of NARA, garnered additional support for the project from a generous anonymous donor, allowing NARA to conserve and make the first scans of these 374 ratified Indian treaties from its holdings accessible online through the National Archives Catalog and now the Treaties Explorer.

David S. Ferriero, archivist of the United States, says that because of the anonymous donation, work was able to be done with conservation and scanning.

He says the records are accessible to anyone.

“Now, many more descendants of the original peoples can examine the names and seals and read the words set down by their ancestors so long ago. But more than that, the treaties are still relevant today as tribal leaders and lawyers continue to use them to assert their rights in court, such as in cases over land and water rights,” Ferriero says. “With such increased access to these records, we plan to continue and increase our educational outreach to Native American communities, and to raise and increase awareness of Native American history.”

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