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Archives Subject Guide: Indigenous Collections

Indigenous Collections at McMaster University Archives and Research Collections

The William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections has in its holdings archives from Indigenous creators, as well as archives from non-Indigenous creators whose work is connected to Indigenous peoples. Among these archives is the CCUNESCO-listed fonds of Dr. Basil Johnston, a renowned Ojibway writer, ethnologist, and preserver of Ojibwemowin.  

Indigenous language materials are present in the Division's 19th and 20th century publications, the Basil Johnston fonds, and some rare books. The Division’s collecting focus in this area is on Iroquoian languages geographically or culturally proximal to Lake Ontario (Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, Tuscarora, and Huron) and Algonquian languages in the Anishinaabemowin dialect continuum, particularly Ojibwemowin.  

The Division also holds a small number of pre-1800 books in which Indigenous peoples from North America, South America, and the Caribbean Islands are represented. These books are predominantly authored by European writers; they are testament to the intellectual lifeworld and experiences of people in countries involved in colonial endeavours. 

The Division recognizes that Indigenous communities may have traditional and sacred connections with some archival records and is taking steps toward culturally sensitive management of these materials. One such example is the Harvey Feit James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement Collection: access to this archive is jointly managed by the Division and Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute (ACCI).

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