There's a Book for That: National American Indian Heritage Month
November is National American Indian Heritage Month designated as such by President George W. Bush in 1990. The Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and other cultural centers join in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans.
In commemoration of the culture and people that were the original settlers of this land, we present the following books that celebrate and offer insight into Native life.
FOOLS CROW by James Welch, Foreword by Thomas McGuane
In the Two Medicine Territory of Montana, the Lone Eaters, a small band of Blackfeet Indians, are living their immemorial life. The men hunt and mount the occasional horse-taking raid or war party against the enemy Crow. The women tan the hides, sew the beadwork, and raise the children. But the year is 1870, and the whites are moving into their land. Fools Crow, a young warrior and medicine man, has seen the future and knows that the newcomers will punish resistance with swift retribution. First published to broad acclaim in 1986, Fools Crow is James Welch’s stunningly evocative portrait of his people’s bygone way of life.
INDIAN NATIONS OF NORTH AMERICA (National Geographic)
Walk with the indigenous people who settled North America —and with their descendants, whose more than 500 tribes range from the Arctic Circle across the Great Plains and to the Eastern Seaboard. Lakota, Cherokee, Navajo, Haida: these groups and many others are profiled in engaging entries and portrayed in magnificent images and maps that authentically evoke each tribe’s history and character.
THE CHEROKEE NATION AND THE TRAIL OF TEARS (Penguin Library of American Indian History) by Theda Perdue and Michael Green
Historians Perdue and Green reveal the government’s betrayals and the divisions within the Cherokee Nation, follow the exiles along the Trail of Tears, and chronicle the hardships found in the West. In its trauma and tragedy, the Cherokee diaspora has come to represent the irreparable injustice done to Native Americans in the name of nation building and in their determined survival, it represents the resilience of the Native American spirit.
AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
American Book Award winner for 2015
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.
A magisterial, essential history of the struggle between whites and Native Americans over the fate of the West. Here is the fullest account to date of how the West was won—and lost—giving us both sides in comprehensive and singularly intimate detail of the wars and negotiations that destroyed tribal ways of life even as they made possible the emergence of the modern United States.
CODE TALKER: A NOVEL ABOUT THE NAVAJO MARINES OF WORLD WAR TWO by Joseph Bruchac; Young Adult fiction
Throughout World War II, in the conflict fought against Japan, Navajo code talkers were a crucial part of the U.S. effort, sending messages back and forth in an unbreakable code that used their native language. They braved some of the heaviest fighting of the war, and with their code, they saved countless American lives. Yet their story remained classified for more than twenty years. But now Joseph Bruchac brings their stories to life for young adults through the riveting fictional tale of Ned Begay, a sixteen-year-old Navajo boy who becomes a code talker.
By Bear Heart
With eloquent simplicity, one of the world’s last Native American Medicine Men demonstrates how traditional tribal wisdom can help us maintain spiritual and physical health in today’s world.
SPIDER WOMAN’S GRANDDAUGHTERS: TRADITIONAL TALES AND CONTEMPORARY WRITING BY NATIVE AMERICAN WOMEN edited by Paula Gunn Allen
American scholar, literary critic, poet, and novelist Paula Gunn Allen, who is herself a Laguna Pueblo-Sioux Indian, became increasingly aware in her academic career that the writings of Native Americans, especially women, have been marginalized by the Western literary canon. Allen set out to understand why this was so and, more importantly, to remedy the situation. The result is this powerful collection of traditional tales, biographical writings, and contemporary short stories, many by the most accomplished Native American women writing today including Louise Erdrich, Linda Hogan and many others.
For more on these and related titles visit the collection Native American Heritage Titles
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