August 20, 2020

IMLS Invests $5.2 Million in Library Services for Tribal Communities, Native Hawaiians
Federal Grants Support Language and Cultural Preservation

Washington, DC—The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced grants totaling $5,263,000 through three programs designed to support and improve library services of Native American and Native Hawaiian organizations.

“IMLS remains committed to investing in tribal libraries and their services,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “These grants empower Native American tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations to preserve and revitalize their cultural traditions and histories, teach new generations their native languages, and offer critical services to their communities.”

Native American Library Services Basic Grants support existing library operations and maintain core library services. These noncompetitive grants are distributed in equal amounts among eligible applicants. Grants totaling $1,834,336 will be awarded to 172 Indian tribes, Alaska native villages, and regional and village corporations., Alaska native villages, and regional and village corporations.

Native American Library Services Enhancement Grants augment existing library services or implement new library services for Indian tribes. Enhancement Grants are only awarded to applicants that have applied for a Native American Library Services Basic Grant in the same fiscal year.

IMLS received 37 applications requesting $4,894,378 and was able to award $3,010,492 to 23 tribes in 12 states. This year’s awarded grants will advance the preservation and revitalization of language and culture, as well as educational programming and digital services.

Native Hawaiian Library Services Grants are available to nonprofit organizations that primarily serve and represent Native Hawaiians so they can enhance existing or implement new library services. IMLS received eight applications requesting $1,130,339 and awarded $418,172 to three organizations serving Native Hawaiians.

Some examples of awarded projects include:

  • The Huna Totem Corporation, in collaboration with partners including the Alaska State Libraries, Archives, and Museums, will process, arrange, and create a database for its archive collection. The project will also add 10 oral interviews with community elders to the collection. The goals are to preserve Tlingit elders’ knowledge for current and future generations, provide a missing piece of Tlingit history, and document clan belongings that hold traditional and cultural stories.

  • The Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut’s “Story-Keeper, Seed Keeper” project will create a physical and digital Native seed library at the Mohegan Library and Archives and two sustainable indigenous plant gardens at Tantaquidgeon Museum. This project will facilitate tribal community education about indigenous herbs, Native food crops, ceremonial medicine, environmental, and sustainability practices, and plant stories and traditions passed on by historic Mohegan farmers, gardeners, gatherers, writers, and storytellers.

  • The Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation’s “Piikuni sahkoyii nitsinikin: Piikani Land, Our Stories” project will digitize and make local oral history materials accessible online. This project will fill in gaps in the reservation’s history, specifically the land and places on the reservation—a project that has not been done by outside researchers or other oral history projects in the past. Students and community members can use Oral History Backpacks, which have all materials needed to complete oral history interviews, to contribute to the project.

  • The Hawaiian Mission Children’s Society will transcribe the manuscripts in the Hawai’ian Evangelical Association collection to English and make manuscripts accessible to the community, educators, and scholars via the Mission Houses Archives web portal. They will produce a best practices manual for transcribing archival documents written in ‘olelo Hawai’i, providing a new and vital resource for transcribing within the archiving and transcription field. The society will also reach out to community and immersion schools for workshop opportunities to teach Hawai’ian language transcription in the archival setting.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Native American Library Services
Native Hawaiian Library Services