Native American Languages Acquisition Criteria

The department of Native American Languages collects primary source materials on the indigenous languages of North America. We selectively collect secondary source materials, focusing on severely endangered or underdocumented languages, unpublished papers and talks and material of unusually high research interest or directly relevant to Native language revitalization.

Primary Source Materials

Primary source materials include original writings and recorded works of oral literature, field notes and audiovisual recordings that document indigenous languages of North America, particularly those of Oklahoma. Materials can include, but are not limited to, correspondence, notes, and illustrations that contextualize and clarify the literature or field records.

Secondary Source Materials

Secondary source materials include scholarly papers, articles, journals and books that draw on primary research to address topics relating to the indigenous languages of North America. Secondary resources also include teaching materials such as curricula, lessons, and materials developed for language lessons or language revitalization.

Areal Sources

The indigenous languages of Oklahoma, before and after the removal period, are the primary focus of this collection. Due to the history of removal, languages from language families represented in Oklahoma and languages that shared cultural and/or linguistic history with Oklahoma languages before removal are the secondary focus. We also collect other indigenous languages of North America; however, potential donations where the whole collection lies outside of our areal scope may be directed to a more appropriate archive, such as the Survey of California and Other Indigenous Languages (UC Berkeley); Alaska Native Language Center (UA Fairbanks); or the Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America (UT Austin).


The department of Native American Languages accepts culturally pertinent music when accompanied with indigenous language. As a language archive we recognize that language is not divorceable from song, but our priority is language documentation as opposed to musical performance alone. Also, the music should contain understandable language; in other words, the songs have substantial lyrical content and do not consist primarily of non-lexical vocables.

Media and Formats

We accept nearly all media: audio, video, text, and ephemera including photographs and illustrations when they are directly related to a language collection. We are equipped to digitize the following audio formats: reel-to-reel tapes, vinyl records, standard audiocassettes and mini-cassettes. We are equipped to digitize only VHS video format. We accept born-digital formats on, for example, compact flash, SD cards, DAT, CD and DVD. Audio and video formats that we cannot process in-house may be sent to qualified labs depending on the quality of the original, the content of the original and available resources. Texts may be in manuscript or bound form. Texts may also be on 3.5" floppy disc, zip disc, CD, or DVD.

Methods of Acquisition

Materials are added to the collection using the following methods:

  • Gift - materials are passed to the museum during the life of the donor
  • Bequest - materials are passed to the museum under a will
  • Purchase - directly from a person or entity, at auction, or through sale
  • Field Collection
    • materials gifted to museum staff or colleagues of museum staff while working in the field. These materials are placed in our General Field Collection
    • original recordings made by NAL staff in the field or in the museum's recording studio. These materials are typically placed in the Sam Noble Museum Made In-House Collection, unless determined otherwise
  • Media Reproduction - materials are temporarily loaned to the museum for the purpose of digitization. The originals are returned to the lender, while a digital copy/reproduction is deposited into the permanent collection

Updated October 2, 2017