The Yale Indian Papers Project is making it easier to learn about the history and culture of New England Natives by gathering historical materials into one virtual collection. By making previously unpublished documents like letters, treaties and maps available to everyone online, researchers, scholars and tribal members will all be able to easily access the information without having to drive or fly to a number of repositories to view documents.
“We are gathering source materials about native New England peoples, and putting it all online,” Paul Grant-Costa, executive editor at the Yale Indian Papers Project, told the New Haven Register during a program at Southern Connecticut State University on the project. “The concept is to gather primary source materials and manuscripts and maps, and make them accessible.”
Grant-Costa explained the different between what is written and what actually happened, because what is recorded was typically written by white settlers.
“We hear a lot about Thanksgiving, and then there is the idea that Native people have disappeared, but Native people have been here continuously,” Grant-Costa told the Register.
Researchers involved with the Yale Indian Papers Project have traveled all over—even to London—to gather original documents.
“We found that documents about New England Native people have been scattered around the world, including a lot of material in England,” Grant-Costa told the Register. “Previously, to get them, you would have had to get on a plane, which is expensive.”
The project website has a searchable database with original images that can be viewed. For example, typing “Wampanoag” into the search box brings up a number of items including letters, testimonies, petitions, reports, and interrogations. All of which include a scholars’ transcription in case the original handwriting is difficult to decipher.