Cultural resources may be tangible or intangible, from ideas to artifacts, geographic spaces to historic photographs, literature, audio recordings, seeds, or Native scholarship. Existing written records and documentation have primarily derived from non-Native linguists, officials, academics, or others conducting fieldwork or surveys, and amateur collectors or religious administrators. Locating and accessing this academic, ethnographic, or institutional documentation of linguistic, cultural, and historical resources relevant to the history and culture of indigenous peoples of the Americas can be a problematic, to say the least.
In the era of the 1990 Native American Graves and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and associated protection and repatriation protocols, this joint project of the UC Davis Indigenous Research Center of the Americas (IRCA) and and the Bay Area non-profit, Caura Futures focuses on the cataloguing of cultural resource collections which fall outside the scope of NAGPRA’s focus in order to enhance accessibility of the vast resources held by non-Native institutions.
With changing technology and ongoing digitization efforts, extant scholarly and archival texts, historical images, records, and other materials in many institutions are becoming increasingly accessible to the public. However, given the sheer volume and variety of materials, and the limits of associated metadata, knowing where to even begin a search, or how to narrow it can be challenging in itself.
The Directory, by indexing as many relevant collections as possible, is intended as a tool to facilitate easier navigation to available repositories, where more targeted research can be undertaken. The Directory begins as a modest inventory of libraries, to which user submitted entries will be invited. Embracing the impracticality of representing the remarkable scope of cultural resource libraries throughout the Americas, its design integrates an easy to use submission form that simplifies the process of contributing additional library entries, with a selection of standard search criteria incorporated into the submission form. It will also allow for open participation in maintaining the quality and accuracy of entries by welcoming updates and feedback on content from the community, as well as the overall structure and usability of the directory itself.
This structure will also allow for libraries themselves to be involved in enhancing the utility of entries. More familiar with their own holdings, librarians and archivists can quickly update entries with additional details about what types of material and subject areas available, any special or newly digitized collections of interest and details on how they can be accessed, or other pertinent information.