Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Student's Guide to Native American Genealogy



Kavasch, E. Barrie. A Student's Guide to Native American Genealogy. Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx Press, 1996.

The title of this book is somewhat misleading. Although it purports to be a book devoted to genealogical research of Native American ancestry, in many ways it is more of a political commentary with some information on ethnography, sociology, with a very little bit of genealogy thrown into the mix. While social history is an important component to genealogical research because it makes our ancestors "come alive," the author never explains the connection. The strength of the book are the bibliographies on various topics related to Native Americans, although many of the sources will only be of minimal assistance to those researching their Native American ancestors. The book, of course, is dated. The Internet was in its infancy when this book was published, and the author offers only one potential use of it in the narrative portion of the book -- to chat with others. There was a bibliography later in the book which did offer a few links, some of which used the old gopher protocol as a mode of access. The author missed opportunities to discuss the various types of sources and what each might tell a researcher. There are lists of repositories which may be useful to today's researchers, although today's researchers will want to check to see if the repositories have Web sites and whether they still exist in the same location, have moved to another location, have merged with another organization, or have completely disappeared. It is clear that the author of this book never envisioned the types of resources that are currently available via the Internet. While this book may offer a very dated introduction for a younger researcher, other overviews of Native American genealogical research or overviews dealing with specific tribes are probably more useful.

This is part of my Friday series on children's books and genealogy.

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