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Native American Literature: Library of Congress Subject Headings

This guide is designed to supplement the DiPietro Library Book Display and artifacts exhibit celebrating Native American Heritage Month (November).


For a list of recommended eBooks and more, go back to the Find Books page.

On this page, you will find

  • An explanation of the Library of Congress's colonial history
  • A list of featured articles on the Library of Congress's problematic subject headings
  • A list of relevant Library of Congress subject headings to search for books by subject.

Library of Congress and Colonial History

The Library of Congress uses controlled vocabularies and subject headings to classify bibliographic material. These subject headings are standardized, and they are difficult to change. Problematically, the United States' colonial history is evident in the way the Library of Congress has historically classified certain topics. This issue is nowhere more apparent than in its classification of issues surrounding Native American, First Nations', and indigenous peoples' history and culture. 

Currently, the Library of Congress still uses outdated terminology to classify Native American topics and issues. Popular subject headings include

Slowly over time, advocates have been petitioning the Library of Congress to update its controlled subject heading vocabulary to provide an authentic representation of Native Americans' lived experiences. As the transition from older to newer terminology is accomplished, we find many resources have a blend of older and newer subject headings. Newer subject headings include

Decolonizing the Library of Congress

For more information about how librarians and information professionals struggle with the Library of Congress's problematic subject headings, check out the featured articles listed below.