C.F.W. Coker Award: Indigenous Digital Archive Treaties Explorer (DigiTreaties.org)

The Indigenous Digital Archive Treaties Explorer, created by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the Indigenous Digital Archive, in partnership with the National Archives Office of Innovation and Conservation Department and Digirati, is the 2021 recipient of the C.F.W. Coker Award from the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The award recognizes finding aids, finding aid systems, innovative development in archival description, or descriptive tools that enable archivists to produce more effective finding aids. To merit consideration for the award, nominees must set national standards, represent a model for archives description, or otherwise have a substantial impact on national descriptive practice.

The Treaties Explorer (DigiTreaties.org) makes accessible and provides context for 374 ratified Indian Treaties held by the National Archives. The finding aid aggregates documents from a number of repositories and agencies and allows the public to explore treaties related to a place, date, and Native nation. A user-friendly website design that includes multiple visual elements and a timeline of the treaties helps people understand these archival documents and the shared histories of the United States and Native nations.

The Treaties Explorer is an innovative development in archival description as it prioritizes Native voices. From initial planning stages to the website launch, team members have collaborated with Native communities. As one nominator wrote, “Native experts have been integrally involved in the project design, research, website user experience and art direction, usability testing, additional refinements, and companion training videos and slides.” 

The team behind the Treaties Explorer includes: Anna Naruta-Moya, Della Warrior (Otoe-Missouria), Matthew Martinez (Ohkay Owingeh), Donovan Pete (Diné), Sherri Thomas (Taos Pueblo and Black), Ben Calabaza (Kewa), and Lee Francis IV (Laguna Pueblo) from the Indigenous Digital Archives and Museum of Indian Arts and Culture; Pamela Wright, Ben Petersen, Carol Lagundo, Jason Clingerman, and the Conservation Department and Digitization staff of the National Archives and Records Administration Office of Innovation; and Matt McGrattanKelsie Caldwell, Ville Vartiainen, and Ian Farquhar from Digirati. The Treaties Explorer was made possible by an anonymous donor to the National Archives Foundation.  

Established in 1984, the award honors SAA Fellow C.F.W. Coker.