SAA Council Endorsement of Protocols for Native American Archival Materials

On August 13, 2018, the SAA Council endorsed Protocols for Native American Archival Materials as an external standard of the organization. These Protocols establish a foundation for archival practice in caring for culturally sensitive records, and center Native American communities in the discussions of preservation and access to these materials. They call on the profession to “recognize that the conditions under which knowledge can be ethically and legally acquired, archived, preserved, accessed, published, or otherwise used, change through time.”

During the past 12 years, many archivists, including and especially members of SAA’s Native American Archives Section, have continued to champion the Protocols, to encourage their use, and to create tools open to all archivists and cultural heritage professionals. The SAA Council commends these individuals for their commitment and perseverance through adversity to build and to sustain the Protocols.

The Protocols were developed in 2006 by the First Archivist Circle, a group of archivists, librarians, museum curators, historians, and anthropologists representing fifteen Native American, First Nation, Indigenous, and Aboriginal communities.

When presented with the Protocols in 2008, the SAA Council declined to endorse them, opting instead to solicit feedback and discussion over a multi-year period. Many of the original criticisms of the Protocols were based in the language of cultural insensitivity and white supremacy. After this period of member feedback, the Council again declined to endorse the Protocols in 2012.1

The SAA Council acknowledges that endorsement of these Protocols is long overdue. We regret and apologize that SAA did not take action to endorse the Protocols sooner and engage in more appropriate discussion.

1Additional information about past discussions can be found on the Protocols for Native American Materials: Information and Resources page.