Sources for the Study of Native American History at the Clements Library
American Encounters highlights the great range and depth of the Clements Library’s collections related to Native American history. The exhibit features items drawn from many areas of the collection, including books, maps, manuscripts, prints, and photographs, which document over four centuries of history. These artifacts illustrate different types of cultural encounters over the course of American history and feature some of the library’s greatest strengths. Included are printed accounts of early encounters between indigenous peoples and European explorers, manuscripts and maps that record a long history of warfare and diplomacy, wampum and trade silver, peace medals, portraits of native leaders, and photographs of Indian schools. Many of these sources are filtered through a European perspective, representing those views and biases rather than the direct voices of Native Americans themselves. Where possible, we will attempt to provide context for such materials to explain the circumstances of their creation.
This exhibit highlights sources for further study, which we hope will enhance inquiry and scholarship on the University of Michigan campus and elsewhere. Much research remains to be done with these materials. The Native American experience is central to an understanding of American history as a whole.