The American Indian Research Project (AIRP) contains over 2,300 oral history interview recordings. This collection was funded through a grant from tobacco heiress Doris Duke. The grant funding started in 1967 and continued into the 1970s.
The majority of the oral history recordings found in the AIRP were gathered in this early period though the work of Joseph Harper Cash and Herbert Hoover, Ph.D., both professors at the University of South Dakota. The gathering of recordings for the AIRP was not discontinued at the end of the grant, but continues to this day, ensuring the continued growth of this important collection.
The collection contains the memories and experiences of individuals from the 1890s to the present. These memories and experiences cover topics of culture, life ways, legends, music, change and activism within the Native American peoples, tribes and communities of the Northern Plains. While these oral histories are predominantly in English, recordings conducted in Lakota, Dakota and others can also be found. There is also a collection of recordings focused on the teaching of the Lakota language.
Through the AIRP researchers have, most recently, gone into the field to conduct interviews with Native culture keepers, individuals and groups concerned about the Bear Butte sacred site, the Sturgis Bike Rally and Native gang members.
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