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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Indigenous Musics of North America

This guide serves as a starting point for research on Indigenous musics.


Welcome to the Music & Performing Arts Library (MPAL) guide to Indigenous musics of North America research resources! 

Use the tabs to the left to navigate this guide, and don't hesitate to reach out to a librarian if you need extra help.

Depending on your research topic, you may also want to check out some of our other library guides - we are linking a few below that might be helpful. 

Tips for Exploring the Collection

Browsing the shelves for materials related to your topic can be a great way to identify items that may be useful to you! If you find one or two items in the catalog that seem promising, look on the shelves at the items surrounding them.

If you want to read more about call numbers and how to decipher them, check our guide to Classification Systems. If you're not sure where to go in the Library to browse one of these call number ranges, please ask us at the service desk and we'll be happy to point you in the right direction or walk you to the shelves! 

For search suggestions to browse the catalog, check out the next tab of this box!

Suggested Call Numbers

  • Indians of North America History and Criticism: ML3557
  • Indians of North America Discographies: ML156.4.I5
  • Indians of North America Vocal Music: M1669
  • Native American Flute: ML990.N37 and MT358.N38

Search by Subject

Each item in the library catalog is assigned one or more subject headings to tell you what it is about. You can search by subject heading using the catalog's Advanced Search feature. 

To search by subject in the catalog:

  • Open the library catalog and click on "Advanced Search" to the right of the search bar
  • Underneath "Search filters", you'll see that the default is set to "Any Field"
  • Click on the arrow next to "Any Field" and select "Subject" from the drop-down menu
  • Try a search with one of the subject headings recommended below
  • Once you've found a relevant book in the catalog, you can also use the subjects listed in the record to find additional related materials

Recommended Subject Headings

Please note that the terms used by library catalogs and other library resources often represent the (US-centric, patriarchal, white) point of view of those who created them. There are many in the field working to change these practices.

The Library of Congress uses the the term 'Indians' for the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere and, more specifically, the term 'Indians of North America' for those peoples indigenous to the United States and/or Canada.

Start with a generic subject like "Indians of North America" or "Indian musicians" as a subject:

  • Add a resource type or qualifier to narrow your results:
    • Indians of North America--Songs and music
    • Indians of North America--Encyclopedias
  • Specify the type of information you are looking for:
    • Indians of North America--Music
    • Indians of North America--Music--History and criticism 
  • Specify the group or place:
    • Navajo Indians--Music
    • Indians of North America--Oklahoma--Music

You might also try searches for related topics including: 

  • Indian Dance--North America
  • Indian Art--North America
  • Indigenous Peoples--Canada
  • Indians of Mexico


Examples and content on this guide was derived from the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library's Guide to Resources in American Indian Studies and the History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library's American Indian Studies Library Resources Guide.