Why does the Library of Congress sometimes treat Indian tribes as topical subjects and sometimes as geographic subjects/corporate authors?
The Library of Congress makes a distinction between Indian tribes as ethnic groups and Indian tribal entities that are formally recognized by the U.S. Government and are federally acknowledged to have immunities and privileges by virtue of their government-to-government relationship with the U.S. These formally recognized tribes are independent, autonomous political entities with inherent powers of self-government; they possess sovereignty and are equal to federal states.
The Indian tribes that are ethnic groups are set up as topical subjects, as are all other ethnic groups. Examples of these are:
- Siksika Indians
- Cherokee Indians
- Navajo Indians
- Arapaho Indians
- Mohegan Indians
The formally recognized Indian tribal entities are set up as geographic subjects, as are all other sovereign states. Examples of these are:
- Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation of Montana
- Elk Valley Rancheria, California
- Spokane Tribe of the Spokane Reservation, Washington
- Angoon Community Association
- Native Village of Elim
These tribal names can be used both as geographic subjects for books about the tribal entity, or as a corporate name entry for books by this tribal entity. (This is true of all other sovereign states as well. Spain can be used as a geographic subject and as a corporate author for official government publications.)
Therefore if one had a book on the history of the Spokane Tribe of the Spokane Reservation, Washington, one would add a geographic subject heading:
651: 0: Spokane Tribe of the Spokane Reservation, Washington |x History. NOTE: One would probably also add a 650: 0: Spokane Indians |x History.
If the book was also issued by the tribe, one could add a main or added entry name access point:
110 or 710:1 : Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation of Montana .