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Project Overview

The objective of the American Indians of the Pacific Northwest project is to broaden access to new constituencies. It allows K-12 teachers and students and other researchers to have direct access to important source material on the Northwest Coast and Plateau Indian cultures. This online collection represents only a selection of materials on American Indians of the Pacific Northwest in the collections of the University of Washington Libraries and the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle, and the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture in Spokane. The criteria for selection are detailed below. The collection of digitized materials is complemented by ten study topic essays.


Criteria for selection of an individual image included the image's contribution to the historical record and the usefulness of the image to K-12 teachers and students. Images that were repetitive or are near-duplicates were not used unless the variations suggest an approach to an historical problem. Photographs taken after 1920 were not included unless copyright or other rights management issues were not a problem.

Northwest Coast images were selected from the University of Washington and Museum of History and Industry collections. Plateau images were selected from the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture supplemented by images from the University's collections. Seven images from the Seattle Public Library and one image from the Washington State Historical Society in Tacoma were also included. Some tribal groups are better represented in the digital collection reflecting the uneven holdings of the photography collections of the three institutions.


To complement the photographs, selected primary and secondary source materials from the University of Washington's collections were digitized. Apart from the relevance of the material to the topic, the major criterion for selection of textual material was that it was free of copyright or other rights management problems. (The primary source material was not copyrighted and the copyright for the secondary material is owned by the University of Washington.)

The Annual Reports of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior and six Indian treaties negotiated in 1855 were selected as primary sources. Articles from the Pacific Northwest Quarterly and selected University of Washington Publications in Anthropology provide valuable secondary material for the study of American Indians of the Pacific Northwest. Some additional information about the text selected for digitization follows.

Other Materials:

Two maps from the Handbook of North American Indians, a Nez Perce legend, an article in West Shore Magazine, three pages of archival material from the National Archives, two articles transcribed from Harper's Weekly, and two transcribed newspaper articles were also included. These materials were identified by the study topic authors to complement their essays. Permission was obtained to include the materials still in copyright.

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