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Littlefield Named “Legend Among Us” for Contributions to Black History

Dr. Daniel Littlefield
Dr. Daniel Littlefield

Longtime University of Arkansas at Little Rock educator and historian Dr. Daniel Littlefield will be honored as a “Legend Among Us” for his contributions to Black history.

Littlefield, director of the Sequoyah National Research Center at UA Little Rock, will be honored during the 8th Annual Arkansas Heritage Celebration of Black History Month “Legend Among Us” presentation. The event will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center and will be live streamed on YouTube.

“A legend is not a term I would use to describe myself, but I am honored that others might see me in that light,” Littlefield said of the award. “Whoever I am or whatever I am, I enjoy the work I do.”

The event will also include a remembrance of the late Dr. Raye Jean Montague by Carla Coleman. Raye Montague is the mother of Dr. David Montague, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at UA Little Rock.

Author Jason Irby, who will be presenting the award, said Littlefield was selected for his unique scholarship at the intersection of shared Black and Native American history.

“Dr. Littlefield has investigated the shared American Heritage that exposes the relationship among these two cultures and the forgotten experiences among friends, family, and the enslaved,” Irby said. “This American story has been buried in the past and is only most remembered by a generation that is quickly passing away. His efforts and research bring the past to the forefront and ties loose ends together and completes pieces missing from a puzzled past. This is a tale of blood, sweat, and a Trail of Tears.”

Littlefield has worked continuously to share and preserve documents in the Sequoyah National Research Center that detail “new beginnings, old practices that pass away, and people that survive together while still being denied humanity or livelihood,” Irby said.

After joining UA Little Rock as a professor in 1970, Littlefield served as the director of the American Native Press Archives, the world’s largest archival repository of Native American newspapers and periodicals, from 1983 to 2005. He left teaching in 2005 to join the newly created Sequoyah National Research Center, which houses the archives and other major collections.

“Dr. Littlefield deserves all the accolades for his lifetime commitment to the truth in history and archives,” said Littlefield’s colleague, Erin Fehr, assistant director of Sequoyah. “He built his career by seeking out untold stories to tell and by creating a legacy built on hard work and generosity. I am so pleased that he is being honored as a Legend Among Us.”

In addition, Littlefield has been a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow in the Institute of Southern and Negro History at John’s Hopkins University; has been a visiting professor of history at the University of Arizona, where he was an assistant editor of “Arizona and the West;” and has taught as a visiting professor of English at the University of Alabama, as well as a distinguished visiting professor of ethno-history at Colgate University.

Littlefield’s most recent research concerns the Dawes Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes and Indian removal. He has served as a member of the Cherokee Nation’s Great State of Sequoyah Commission and a member of the Board of Directors of the Arkansas Humanities Council.

In 2001, Littlefield was inducted into the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame. The Arkansas Historical Association honored him with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 for his co-founding of the Sequoyah National Research Center and his promotion of Arkansas history. At the end of the spring semester, Littlefield will celebrate the completion of 63 years in his career as a teacher and scholar.