August 19, 2021

IMLS Invests $5.5 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 $5,561,835 through three programs designed to support and improve library services of Native American, Native Alaskan, and Native Hawaiian organizations.

Git Hoan dancers wearing traditional regalia, perform tribal dances on stage.
Git Hoan dancers, led by Tsimshian, Laxsgiik tribal member David A. Boxley, participate in Celebration 2016, donning their traditional regalia to perform tribal dances and rituals. (Photo by Brian Wallace, courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute)

"IMLS is proud to support the activities of libraries and cultural centers in First Nations and Tribal communities," said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. "Our Native American and Native Hawaiian grants for literacy, language preservation, community curating, programming, and information support the signal importance of learning in the precious heritage of Native communities.”

Native American Library Services Basic Grants support existing library operations and maintain core library services. These non-competitive grants are awarded in equal amounts among eligible applicants. Grants totaling $1,806,790 were awarded to 172 Indian Tribes, Alaska Native villages, and other regional and village corporations.

Native American Library Services Enhancement Grants assist Native American Tribes in improving core library services for their communities. 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 28 applications requesting $3,670,126 and was able to award $3,305,045 to 24 Tribes in 13 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 six applications requesting $867,764 and awarded $450,000 to three organizations serving Native Hawaiians.

Some examples of awarded projects include:

  • The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal Library in Nevada will preserve their Paiute language, Kooyooe Tuka, by offering weekly Paiute language and discussion groups and classes led by tribal elders, as well as in-school Paiute language classes for the daycare, Head Start, and high school students. The project will also feature weekly culture/craft classes that emphasize tribal customs and a subsistence livelihood such as gardening, hunting, fishing, canning, beading, sewing, and ethnobotany. The library will document, store, and catalogue their library books and oral history, including recordings of elders, language, traditional songs, and stories, which will further the preservation of Paiute culture.

  • The Wyandotte Nation Library in Oklahoma will create a literacy station to provide early, digital, and other literacies to youth and their families; the formation of a LEGO club to conduct science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, and mathematics lessons; and family event nights with culture and native craft lessons to advance cultural and civic engagement. The project will enhance cultural awareness through the discovery of Wyandotte culture heritage and crafts, increase interest in Wyandotte language, and build youth confidence in a range of subject areas.

  • The Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College Community Library in Wisconsin will digitize historical collections with a focus on the Lac Courte Oreilles community newspapers. These collections serve as important primary sources documenting tribal elections, genealogy, and photographs, and the project will help inventory them. Other materials will then be identified for digitization, including scrapbooks, yearbooks, and newsletters. The library will work with its local history group to offer a writing and research workshop and encourage the sharing of stories on the library website.

  • The Pacific American Foundation in Hawaii will develop a database focused on federal efforts to colonize five remote islands in the Pacific leading up to World War II (1935-1942). The project will highlight the contributions and sacrifices made by Native Hawaiian colonists, known collectively as Hui Panalāʻau. The Hui Panalāʻau Digital Collection will provide access to primary and secondary source documents, film footage, oral history recordings, and photographs housed at seven public and private repositories in Honolulu, and the National Archives.

For more information about upcoming grant opportunities, please visit the IMLS website.

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 Hawaiian Library Services
Native American Library Services