Special Collections Preserves Printed Resources of Indigenous Writing & Native Languages

image of four book covers

This November, the UWM Libraries’ Special Collections celebrates Native American Heritage Month with an exhibit of works by Native American women poets in the Daniel M. Soref Learning Commons, located on the first floor west wing of the Golda Meir Library.

The exhibit includes a number of works by Joy Harjo who this year became the first Native American U.S. Poet Laureate, as well as books by UWM Professors Kimberly Blaeser and Margaret Noodin, among others.

These works are part of the Native American and Hawaiian Literature Collection, comprising materials written or created by native peoples of the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and Canada, from all historical periods.

The collection currently includes about 2500 works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, journalism, illustration and photography, transcriptions of oral literature, and native language materials.

“The Native American and Hawaiian Literature Collection is one of only a handful of collections in the country dedicated to preserving printed primary resources of indigenous writing and native languages, especially the endangered languages of Wisconsin,” says Max Yela, head of Special Collections.

“We have strong connections to American Indian Studies, American Indian Student Center, History, Creative Writing, and the Electa Quinney Institute here on campus, but as an active member of the Milwaukee Native American Literary Cooperative—which also includes UWM English, Marquette University, the Indian Community School of Milwaukee, and Woodland Pattern Book Center—we also maintain strong connections to communities at large,” Yela says.

For more information about the Native American and Hawaiian Literature Collection in Special Collections, email libspecial@uwm.edu or call 414-229-4345.

All three of the Libraries’ Distinctive Collections (Special Collections, Archives, and the American Geographical Society Library) will host a three-day hands-on pop-up exhibit November 20-22 featuring Native American materials from their collections.