The SDOHC is a branch of the University Libraries at the University of South Dakota and began its operations in the 1960s through a DDCF grant. At the time of the original grant, USD joined six educational institutions – University of Florida, University of Illinois, University of Oklahoma, University of New Mexico, University of Arizona and University of Utah – to collect oral histories with Native American communities.

The DDCF has partnered with the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM) to create the latest grant project with the seven universities in what is known as the Doris Duke Native Oral History Revitalization Project. The project will use digital tools such as Mukurtu, which is an open-source platform built with Indigenous communities to manage and share cultural heritage.

The goal, over the next two years, is to build a foundation for providing continuity across the seven institutions, strengthening connections with tribes and promoting use of the collections. The SDOHC worked with the USD Foundation, the USD Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and the USD Library staff throughout the fall to finalize its grant application.

“The grant from the Duke Foundation and the guidance from ATALM combine for a tremendous opportunity for the South Dakota Oral History Center in its ongoing commitment to honor the area’s Native American communities and to work with researchers from USD and around the world. The SDOHC is more than 50 years old now, and this will help us take the next step to build and feature these unique resources for many years to come,” Sam Herley, Ph.D., curator and principal investigator (PI), said. “We could not be more thrilled. It is a terrific way to continue the vision that Doris Duke, Dr. Hoover, Dr. Cash, so many tribal members and others had to lay the foundation for the creation and proper usage of the materials.”

The SDOHC's DDCF collection, often known as the American Indian Research Project, comprises some 2,400 interviews and recordings, making it one of the largest collections of Native American oral histories in the United States. An assessment conducted by SDOHC staff in 2020 found that the collection includes materials from at least 64 Native American tribal nations.

Much of the foundation work in creating the SDOHC in the 1960s and early 1970s was led by the late USD historians Herbert T. Hoover and Joseph Cash, who cooperated with teams of scholars in conducting hundreds of interviews with individuals from across the tribes of South Dakota. Hundreds more interviews were deposited into the collection over the following decades, creating a rich historical resource for the Northern Plains. Today researchers, scholars and students from around the globe request copies of the SDOHC’s DDCF materials, which are featured annually in scholarly and news media publications.

Learn more about the SDOHC at

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