The I-Portal: Indigenous Studies Portal was launched in 2006 at the University of Saskatchewan as a tool for faculty, students, researchers, and members of the community to access digital Indigenous studies resources. Its primary focus is on Indigenous peoples of Canada with a secondary focus on Indigenous peoples of the United States, Australia, Aotearoa – New Zealand, and other areas of the world.
The I-Portal contains full-text electronic resources including articles, e-books, theses, government publications, videos, oral histories, reports, and digitized archival documents and photographs. As of 2022, the I-Portal had over 71,000 records and new content is added on a continuing basis.
The collection is developed through a variety of approaches, including:
- Articles published in a core list of journals.
- Resources identified in the reference lists of other publications such as articles, grey literature, books, and theses.
- Resources suggested by scholars in the area.
- Focused searches on areas of contemporary interest
Content must be considered substantive. Articles from newspapers and popular magazines, brief news reports, and individual blogs are generally not included in the I-Portal.
Wherever possible, the I-Portal links to open access/ freely available versions of resources.
Unfortunately, access to resources that are not open access is restricted by vendor licenses. Those resources can only be accessed if your library/institution has a subscription to the publication. The I-Portal cannot extend access to those resources to users whose institution does not have a license nor can the I-Portal provide a subscription service to access restricted resources.
The seeds of the I-Portal were planted in the mid-1990s when the University of Saskatchewan Library received a grant for a pilot project to digitize Indigenous content, resulting in a website called Resources for Aboriginal Studies. The success of the pilot led to a partnership with Dept. of Indian and Northern Affairs Library and the Library and Information Needs of Native People's Interest Group of the Canadian Library Association and the development of the Canadian Directory of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Library Collections. Then, in 2001, under the leadership of Darlene Fichter, the library submitted a grant proposal for a portal to facilitate access to interdisciplinary Indigenous scholarly and research materials of the Canadian prairies for users at the post-secondary level. Initially called the Wanuskewin Portal and later the Aboriginal Portal, this portal – in common with the library’s earlier projects – was reliant on partnerships with others on campus and across the province.
In 2005, staff from the library’s cataloguing group were transferred to the portal to assist in adding content. The portal went live as the iPortal: Indigenous Studies Portal in 2006 with 1500 resources. A year later, the iPortal had grown to 6000 resources. Then several digitization projects, such as filling gaps in online access to Indigenous Studies-focused journals and partnerships with their publishers, began. During this exciting time, the harvesting of digitized archival resources in Saskatchewan, such as from the Our Legacy website (based out of the University of Saskatchewan in partnership with many memory institutions across northern and central Saskatchewan) and the Indian History Film Project website (based out of the University of Regina), was set in motion. While the primary audience remained post-secondary students and faculty, it was understood that the portal was an important resource to the broader community and iPortal staff included open access resources whenever possible. A search function for “only open access” resources was made available specifically with community members in mind.
In 2012, the portal became known as the iPortal: Indigenous Studies Portal Research Tool. A revamped home page incorporated the turtle image with major search categories identified on the turtle’s back. This decolonized look and feel was in response to a request made by the university’s Indigenous community because the original homepage was all text. Consultation with local Elders helped inform the new iPortal development and design.
In 2022, the iPortal was officially renamed the I-Portal: Indigenous Studies Portal with a new logo and website.
The Indigenous Studies Portal is one of the most successful initiatives in the University Library’s history and has often been cited as one of the best examples of an Indigenous content-focused information resource. Libraries across Canada and around the world have linked to the I-Portal for a decade or more.
The I-Portal has many Open URL encoded links to licensed full text articles and other resources. If your library/institution subscribes to licensed resources and has link resolver software, please fill out this online form and we can easily set you up.
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