Indian Tribes

How are Indian tribes listed in the MARC record? For example, if I wanted Chumash Indians, how are they listed? Are there additional entries, broader entries, i.e. such as Indians–California?

The most direct way to find material on Indian tribes is by searching the tribe’s name as a subject heading.

Most academic libraries and many public libraries use Library of Congress Subject Headings. According to this thesaurus of subject terms, a book gets a subject heading as specific as the book is. Therefore a book on Chumash Indians, would get the subject heading “Chumash Indians.” In the past, the book would also get an additional heading for the broader term (i.e. Indians of North America) subdivided by place, if appropriate. Therefore a book on Chumash Indians would have had two subject headings: Chumash Indians ; and Indians of North America–California.

Catalogers NO LONGER ADD this BROADER heading for Indian tribes. However a number of older records in our databases, have these broader headings on them. Today, if a book was on many different tribes in California, it would get the heading “Indians of North America–California.”
There are many cross-references in the Library of Congress subject heading system. For example “Chumash Indians” has the following cross-references: Chumashan Indians ; Santa Barbara Indians ; and Ventureno Chumashan Indians. A patron (and librarians) need access to the complete Library of Congress Subject Headings in order to have full access to all the available cross-references. “Indians of North America–California” is a Broader Term on the subject heading for “Chumash Indians.” Therefore, if a patron searched for “Indians of North America–California” and the Library of Congress Subject Headings were availalbe in your catalog, the patron should be able to see a reference directing him/her to see also the narrower terms, one of which would be “Chumash Indians.”
After you have located the particular tribe that you are looking for, you may want a more specific aspect or topic. There are many subdivisions available to be used under Indian tribes, for example: –Religion ; –Social life and customs ; — Legal status, laws, etc. ; –Medicine, etc. A full list is available in the publication, Subject Cataloging Manual: Subject Headings, put out by the Library of Congress. There are also subject headings that combine the tribal name with a subject, for example: Navajo beadwork ; Chumash astronomy ; Tlingit children ; Cherokee magic, etc. There are hundreds of these. The easiest way to see if your particular subject can be combined with a tribal name is to search your subject as: “Indian [subject]” (i.e. Indian baskets). If that subject heading is available, then your subject can be combined with any Indian tribal name (i.e. Navajo baskets, etc.)
NOTE: The Library of Congress establish Indian tribal names, as well as tribal names combined with a subject, only AS THEY RECEIVE a book on that subject. Therefore, there are many subject headings which are not yet established in the thesaurus. For example, “Navajo beadwork” is available as a subject heading, but “Cherokee beadwork” is not established yet. Likewise sometimes the Indian tribe itself is not established yet. The subject headings must be established individually by the Library of Congress, or a library that is part of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging. If you have a book on a subject that is not yet established (i.e. Cherokee beadwork), please email the current Co-Chair of the ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee, Isabel Quintana at:, and we will establish the subject for you in the Library of Congress Subject thesaurus.

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