What is the Archives?
The Crow Indian Archives of Little Big Horn College Library at Crow Agency, Montana, serves the entire Crow people. Created in 1986, the Archives strives to preserve the history and culture of the Crow Indians through the preservation of historical manuscripts, personal papers, official reports, and video/audio recordings on the historical and contemporary life of the Crow Indian people.
What does the Archives do?
The Archives acquires, organizes, catalogs (and otherwise describes), protects, preserves, and makes accessible this wide variety of materials which together with the traditional human resources helps to perpetuate the culture and history of all segments of the Crow Indian people. The Little Big Horn College Archives is a place where documents and other materials relating to tribal history are safely stored and made available to all.
What kinds of materials are in the Archives?
The materials now located in or to be acquired by the Archives include:
- records, papers, scrapbooks, genealogies, family histories, and photographs of Crow individuals and tribal historians
- copies of federal government records (including National Archives microfilm), external studies, and reports
- research materials from historians, anthropologists, missionaries, attorneys, and others who have studied Crow life
- non-current records of Little Big Horn College.
- microfilm of early Billings and Hardin newspapers
- special collection of published Crow books and articles, including rare and out-of-print materials.
Community members are invited to bring in old family photographs and documents for information on copying and safeguarding them.
Who may use the Archives?
The archives serves as a cultural and educational resource center for Little Big Horn College students and faculty, elementary and high school students and educators, tribal and federal programs, the Crow Indian public in general, and outside scholars and researchers. The Archives actively encourages the use of its collections by all these groups. Materials can be used in curricula development, personal research, genealogy, scholarly/academic research, and legal cases.
Crow Oral History, Literature, and Scholarship
Much of the history and culture of the Crow Nation has only been and continues to be preserved and transmitted orally. Much of what has been written has been authored by and reflects the perspectives of non-Crows. Thus, the Archives helps preserve Crow oral history and literature by interviewing and recording elders and others throughout the reservation and by making and collecting audio/visual recordings and photographs of meetings, community events, and music. If you know anyone who should be interviewed or recorded, please contact the Archivist. In addition, the Archives encourages Crow Indians themselves to write and publish their own materials. The Crow community is thus able to use both the materials gathered by outside scholars/observers and traditional oral knowledge as a way to balance or correct non-Crow interpretations and stereotypes with new research often conducted by tribal members themselves or in collaboration with outside scholars.
A primary goal of the Archives is to keep important historical materials on the Reservation for the benefit of the Crow people. Materials collected by the Archives will stay here, not be sent to some distant museum or university where the Crow people will have little or no chance to use them for their own needs.
Family History and Donations
Every member of the Crow tribe contributes to the ongoing history of the Crow people. The Little Big Horn College Archives remembers the people by collecting and preserving family materials such as letters, postcards, diaries, business papers, scrapbooks, and photographs. These and other items are important to help future generations recall our lives and our history as we lived it. Materials with sentimental value for individual families or representing the private interests of an organization may be of historical value for the whole tribe. Crow history will never be described adequately as long as crucial materials stay locked in file cabinets, trunks, attics, and basements. The Archives encourages many tribal members to entrust originals or copies of their family’s papers to us for safekeeping.
Preservation and Protection of Materials
A donation ensures that records, papers, and letters will be properly stored and that essential measures for organization and preservation will be taken by a trained archivist so that the materials are protected from theft, fire, and physical deterioration. Individuals and organization have the satisfaction of knowing that their gift is housed in a safe environment and benefits students, educators, and interested persons.
Hours and Access
Students and the public have access to archival materials through the reference services that the Archives provides for these collections. Feel free to contact the Archivist to arrange access.
Crow Tribal Members’ Collections Processed
The collections of Robert Yellowtail, Sr., Joseph Medicine Crow, and Eloise Whitebear Pease were donated to the archives in 1986 and 1987.
Mr. Yellowtail was the preeminent Crow political leader of the twentieth century and his papers consist largely of his speeches and materials on Crow and Indian law and rights.
Joe Medicine Crow is the first Crow Indian to earn a master’s degree and was declared the official tribal historian in 1947. His papers deal largely with Crow history and culture.
Eloise Pease has been involved in Crow tribal politics and government since 1956 and was likewise declared tribal historian in 1963. Her papers are mainly political and economic in nature and are particularly valuable for recent Crow history.
The Archives recently completed processing these three collections with major support coming from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The inventories of all three collections are now available online.
Crow Indian Veterans: Contemporary Warriors
This is an ongoing oral history project in which interviews are conducted with living male and female Crow Indian veterans of World War One, World War Two, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, and the Persian Gulf. The interviews consist of audio taping the veterans on their experiences prior to entering the military, while in service, and after discharge. Topics include basic training, treatment by others in the service, combat, rest and recreation, use of religion, and treatment upon return to civilian life, particularly on the reservation. The first phase of the project produced 16 interviews with summaries and was funded by a grant from the Montana Committee for the Humanities.