Preface: Indigenous Peoples and Librarianship
We invited indigenous librarians from various corners of the world to prepare articles for this special
issue of World Libraries. Wendy Sinclair-Sparvier, of the Regina Public Library, details how
a public library in Saskatchewan, Canada is responding to the information needs of a growing Aboriginal
population. Chris Szekely is Manager for Manakau Libraries in Aotearoa/New Zealand. He describes how
librarianship in his country responds to the Treaty of Waitangi, Aotearoa/New Zealand's founding document
that also protects Maori rights. Loriene Roy provides an overview of contemporary efforts to further
indigenous librarianship within the United States. Then, Peter Sarri, the Sámi Library Counselor
in Sweden, introduces library services for Sámi, the indigenous peoples of modern Scandinavia,
and provides an account of the development of a library development plan for the Sámi in Sweden.
Liv Inger Lindi describes Sámi library services in Norway and the role of her library, Sámi
sierrabibliotehka , the Sámi special library in Karasjok or Kárášjohka in
Finnmark province, North Norway. These authors are recognized as members of tribal nations the Maori,
Cree, Anishinabe, and Sámi. Our preface continues with background information on these communities.
The Anishinabe consider their homelands the woodland areas surrounding the Great Lakes of North America.
According to their migration stories, the Anishinabe first lived in coastal areas near the Atlantic
Ocean. The people migrated west some five hundred years ago, following an elder whose vision told
him they should move to a location where they would find food growing in water. These Anishinabe
were accompanied on this migration by the Ottawa and Potawatomi and parted ways from each other at
the Straits of Mackinac. Together these three tribal groups are still referred to as the Three Fires.
Each nation pledged to maintain their cultures with the Anishinabe designated as Keepers of the Faith.
The Potawatomi are the Keepers of the Fire and the Ottawa are the Keepers of the Peace. Today, the
Anishinabe are one of the top ten American Indian tribes in the United States as measured by population;
according to the 2000 U.S. Census there are 105,907 people in the United States who consider themselves
primarily of Anishinabe heritage. Anishinabe means First or Spontaneous people. They are also referred
to as Ojibwe or Chippewa. Many Anishinabe live on reservations in Wisconsin and Minnesota while others
live off-reservation in rural and urban areas. The Anishinabe language, Ojibwemowin, is a living
language and is taught in classes, study groups, and available for study on the Internet, through CDs
and audio books. Many Anishinabe still live according to the seasons, making maple syrup, gathering
wild rice, hunting, fishing, creating baskets from birch-bark and decorating material with floral beadwork
designs and porcupine quills. Well known Anishinabe include author Louise Erdrich, actor Adam Beach,
economist Winona LaDuke, academic Gerald Vizenor, and journalist/poet/author/playwright Jim Northrup,
Most Cree reside in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, though some also live on the American
side of the border. So many Cree and Anishinabe have intermarried that many people refer to themselves
as Chippewa-Cree. Some writers divide Cree into two main groups the Western or Woodland Cree and the
Eastern or Muskegon/Swampy Cree. Others recognize additional subgroups, including the Plains Cree.
Like the Anishinabe, traditional Cree dwellings were dome-shaped wigwam made of birch-bark and woven
mats covering a bent sapling frame. Many Cree might also have followed the traditional Anishinabe religion
of Midewiwin. Like the Anishinabe, the Cree language is referred to as an Algonquin language and it
is also being revived. The Cree population is around 120,000. Cree people reside on reserves in Canada
or off reservation. Many observe traditional lifeways through hunting, trapping, and craftwork. They
continue to work for treaty rights and basic human rights.
The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand, a country they refer to as Aotearoa, Land of the
Long White Cloud. Polynesians arrived on Aotearoa by 1000 A.D., traveling in large double-hulled canoes
from a land the Maori refer to as Hawaiki. By the mid-twenty first century one out of five New Zealanders
will be Maori. In 1840 over 500 Maori chiefs signed the Treat of Waitangi with the Crown of England,
granting British rule. The Treaty continues to provide the Maori with services and other rights. The
early presence of missionaries resulted in early translation of the Bible into Maori language and contributed
to continuation of the language, which is now recognized as one of Aoteaora/New Zealand's two official
languages. While fewer than 10 percent of adults speak Maori, immersion schools are available for the
youngest children with the expectation of increasing Maori language literacy. Maui is the Maori cultural
hero and is the protagonist in many cultural stories. Maori are deeply interested in whakapapa or
their tribal genealogy and consider themselves part of iwi, hapu, and whanau or
tribes, subtribes, and families. Maori communities hold gatherings on the grounds of marae or
plaza grounds that feature meeting halls with ornate carvings. Among these gatherings are powhiri where
Maori formally welcome visitors. The traditional Maori greeting involves a handshake and hongi,
or pressing noses together. Tribal communities in Aotearoa, as well as in the United States and Canada,
have several tribal colleges or wanaga that award post-secondary certifications and degrees.
Maori still observe cultural traditions of carving, canoeing, weaving, and dance. Some notable contemporary
Maori include author Witi Ihimaera, actor Temuera Morrison, actress Rena Owen, singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,
and author Alan Duff.
 Loriene Roy, "Ojibwe," in Judy Galens, Anna Sheets, and Robyn V. Young, Gale
Encyclopedia of Multicultural America (Detroit:
Gale, 1995): 1016-1029; Roy, Loriene, "Ojibwa," in
Junius P. Rodriguez, The Louisiana Purchase: A Historical and Geographical Encyclopedia (Santa
Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2002): 260-261.
About the Author
Loriene Roy is Professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University
of Texas at Austin.
Email: loriene [at] gslis [dot] utexas [dot] edu
© 2002 Loriene Roy
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