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Guardian of Culture and Lifeways Awards

Submit a Guardian of Culture and Lifeways Award nomination here.


  • June 30 – Nominations due
  • July 6 - Awards Committee Deliberates
  • July 19 – Announcement
  • December 1 – Awards Luncheon

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History and Award Categories
Established in 2007, the Guardians of Culture, Memory, and Lifeways International Awards Program identifies and recognizes organizations and individuals who serve as outstanding examples of how indigenous archives, libraries, and museums contribute to the vitality and cultural sovereignty of Native nations.

A list of past award recipients is available here.

Nominations are sought for seven award categories:

Lifetime Achievement Award - Honors an individual whose work has significantly contributed to the preservation and understanding of indigenous cultural heritage. Individuals should have at least fifteen years of service to the archives, library, or museum professions (in any combination).

Leadership Award - Honors an indigenous individual with exceptional ability to lead and inspire, reflected in accomplishments and broad impact in the archives, library, and/or museum professions. Nominees must currently work in the archives, library, and/or museum professions.

Honored One Award – Recognizes individuals whose contributions have significantly benefited the preservation of indigenous cultural heritage and supported the work of tribal archives, libraries, and museums. Multiple awards may be presented in this category.

Outstanding Project Award - Recognizes an outstanding project that has greatly benefited indigenous archives, libraries, and museums. Projects may include those in a related profession such as heritage preservation, language, archeology, or anthropology, provided there is a link to an archive, library, or museum. Individuals or organizations are eligible.

Archives Institutional Excellence Award - Recognizes indigenous archives that demonstrate a significant commitment to the preservation and use of documentary heritage. Nominees are evaluated on their effectiveness in improving the documentary record through identifying and ensuring the preservation of records relating to tribal communities and topics; demonstrating success in raising public awareness of the importance of improving documentation; using innovative approaches to identifying and acquiring the records of tribal communities/topics; or using effective and appropriate approaches to making records available to a broader public audience.

Library Institutional Excellence Award - Recognizes an indigenous library that profoundly demonstrates outstanding service to its community. Nominees must have developed innovative and effective services and programs that can be replicated by other libraries; partnered successfully with other institutions to improve and enhance services; or demonstrated excellence in service that has impacted the community in a measurable way. Emphasis will be placed on accomplishments that showcase the library's role as a center of the community.

Museum Institutional Excellence Award - Recognizes Indigenous museums and museum services that demonstrate significant commitment to the care, preservation, interpretation, and presentation of material cultural heritage. Nominees must have demonstrated innovative and effective collections care methods; originality and quality of programming (including exhibitions, education and outreach, events, and publications); and/or successful collaboration with other heritage organizations.

Language Program Institutional Excellence Award- Recognizes indigenous language programs that work with libraries, archives, and museums to incorporate language into cultural programming, thereby enabling these institutions to support language revitalization.

Tribal Leader Award- Recognizes indigenous elected leaders who demonstrate significant support of archives, libraries, museums, and language programs.