Recommended Book List
by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
The first history of the United States told from the perspective of indigenous peoples. Today in the United States, there are more than five hundred federally recognized Indigenous nations comprising nearly three million people, descendants of the fifteen million Native people who once inhabited this land. The centuries-long genocidal program of the US settler-colonial regimen has largely been omitted from history. Now, for the first time, acclaimed historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz offers a history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the US empire.
In this 1996 Minnesota Book Award winner, Kent Nerburn draws the reader deep into the world of an Indian elder known only as Dan. It’s a world of Indian towns, white roadside cafes, and abandoned roads that swirl with the memories of the Ghost Dance and Sitting Bull. Readers meet vivid characters like Jumbo, a 400-pound mechanic, and Annie, an 80-year-old Lakota woman living in a log cabin. Threading through the book is the story of two men struggling to find a common voice. Neither Wolf nor Dog takes readers to the heart of the Native American experience. As the story unfolds, Dan speaks eloquently on the difference between land and property, the power of silence, and the selling of sacred ceremonies. This edition features a new introduction by the author. “This is a sobering, humbling, cleansing, loving book, one that every American should read.” — Yoga Journal
by Thomas King
“Stories are wondrous things. And they are dangerous.” In The Truth About Stories, Native novelist and scholar Thomas King explores how stories shape who we are and how we understand and interact with other people. From creation stories to personal experiences, historical anecdotes to social injustices, racist propaganda to works of contemporary Native literature, King probes Native culture’s deep ties to storytelling. With wry humor, King deftly weaves events from his own life as a child in California, an academic in Canada, and a Native North American with a wide-ranging discussion of stories told by and about Indians. So many stories have been told about Indians, King comments, that “there is no reason for the Indian to be real. The Indian simply has to exist in our imaginations.” That imaginative Indian that North Americans hold dear has been challenged by Native writers – N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Marmon Silko, Louis Owens, Robert Alexie, and others – who provide alternative narratives of the Native experience that question, create a present, and imagine a future. King reminds the reader, Native and non-Native, that storytelling carries with it social and moral responsibilities. “Don’t say in the years to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you had heard this story. You’ve heard it now.”
by Vine Deloria Jr.
In his new preface to this paperback edition, the author observes, “The Indian world has changed so substantially since the first publication of this book that some things contained in it seem new again.” Indeed, it seems that each generation of whites and Indians will have to read and reread Vine Deloria’s Manifesto for some time to come, before we absorb his special, ironic Indian point of view and what he tells us, with a great deal of humor, about U.S. race relations, federal bureaucracies, Christian churches, and social scientists. This book continues to be required reading for all Americans, whatever their special interest.
by Jack D. Forbes
Celebrated American Indian thinker Jack D. Forbes’s Columbus and Other Cannibals was one of the founding texts of the anticivilization movement when it was first published in 1978. His history of terrorism, genocide, and ecocide told from a Native American point of view has inspired America’s most influential activists for decades. Frighteningly, his radical critique of the modern “civilized” lifestyle is more relevant now than ever before.
Children and Youth Books
While searching for blackberries, young Choctaw Martha breaks her village’s rules against crossing the Bok Chitto to the plantation on the other side. She befriends the slaves, and later helps a family escape across the river to freedom. Crossing Bok Chitto is a moving story of friendship across cultures in 1800s Mississippi, beautifully complemented by dramatic paintings.
In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse
by Joseph Marshall
Jimmy McClean’ father is part white and part Lakota, and his mother is Lakota. Over summer break Jimmy embarks on a journey with his grandfather, Nyles High Eagle. While on the road, his grandfather tells him the story of Crazy Horse, one of the most important figures in Lakota and American history. Expertly intertwining fiction and non-fiction, award-winning In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse is a moving chapter book about heritage and identity.
by Joseph Bruchac
Anyone who loves lacrosse which was sacred to the Iroquois should read this book. Set in contemporary Washington D.C., Jake has left his Iroquois reservation and entered a boarding school. Lacrosse is the bridge that crosses both worlds for Jake, but is it enough?
by Joseph Bruchac
I discovered Joseph Bruchac today at the library thanks to my “go to” library in the Children’s Room. When I told her I was having trouble finding stories about the experience of Native Americans (versus non fiction about their customs), she told me about Joseph Bruchac who is a talented and prolific writer of over 70 books both chapter and picture that reflect his Abernaki Native American culture. This is a great story about a contemporary boy struggling to straddle two cultures, American and Mohawk. It’s also a perfect level for a reluctant boy reader.
by Gloria Whelan
In 1840, the Potawatomi people were rounded up and forced from their land. While visiting her Potawatomi friend Fawn and mistaken for one of the tribe, young Libby Mitchell is forced to go too. This is the sequel to Next Spring an Orieole.
Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light
by Tim Tingle
Saltypie tells the author’s family story from their life in Oklahoma Choctaw country to their move to Texas. Spanning 50 years, this heart-felt picture book describes the family’s hardships, from the grandmother’s orphan days at a boarding school to the hostility his grandparents encountered in their new home in Pasadena.
Greet the Dawn: The Lakota Way
by S. D. Nelson
Animals and humans alike greet the dawn by gazing at the sun and marveling at the colours, sounds, and smells. In the Lakota culture dawn is a time to celebrate with a smiling heart, to start a new day in the right way, excited for what might come. With bright artwork, Greet The Dawn: The Lakota Way teaches young readers to seize the new opportunities each new day offers.
Buffalo Bird Girl: A Hidatsa Story
by S. D. Nelson
This award-winning picture book biography tells the childhood story of Buffalo Bird Woman – a Hidatsa Indian born around 1839. With beautiful original artwork and archival photographs, Buffalo Bird Girl is a moving account of the lost way of life of a Native American community on the shores of the Missouri River.
When I Was Eight
by Christy Jordan-Fenton
Strong-willed Olemaun wants to learn to read and persuades her father to let her go to residential school, despite his concerns. At the Catholic-run school the Inuit girl is stripped of her Native identity, humiliated and treated harshly. Olemaun remains undaunted and draws the attention of one nun who tries to break her spirit. When I was Eight is a stunning picture book adaptation of the bestselling memoir Fatty Legs, a story about a remarkable girl and the power of the human spirit.
by David Alexander Robertson
story about a difficult time in history, about empowerment and strength. A young girl is curious about her grandmother’s long braided hair, coloured clothing and different language. Her grandmother tells her about life in a residential school, where all of these things were taken away from her.
When the Shadbush Blooms
by Carla Messinger
Traditional Sister and Contemporary Sister, each from her own time, tell the reader of life as a Lenape Indian girl. Some things have changed but many have stayed the same: fishing for shad, picking ripe berries, being with family and listening to stories. With expressive illustrations and simple text, When The Shadbush Blooms is a warm book about traditions and change
by Jan Bourdeau Waboose
Two Ojibway sisters set off across the frozen north country to see the SkySpirits’ midnight dance. Following their grandmother’s advice (“wisdom comes on silent wings”), they silently experience their surroundings and patiently wait for the arrival of the SkySpirits. With stunning oil-on-canvas paintings, SkySisters is an atmospheric story that captures the chill of a northern night, the warmth of family bonds and the radiance of a child’s wonder.