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Native American Heritage Month Information & Resources

Native American History Month is observed annually in November to recognize and celebrate the achievements and contributions of the Native American community.

Jump to the Library's Native American Resource List

B.D. Owens Library: Monthly Resource List

Native American History Month is observed annually in November to recognize and celebrate the achievements and contributions of the Native American community. Below is a selected list of books available at the B.D. Owen’s Library.

READER’s LIST

NAME and AUTHOR SUMMARY

We are grateful: otsaliheliga |Traci Sorell ; Illustrated by Frané Lessac.

(For children)

Otsaliheliga is a Cherokee word that is used to express gratitude. Journey through the year with a Cherokee family and their tribal nation as they express thanks for celebrations big and small. A look at modern Native American life as told by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

We are water protectors | Carole Lindstrom

(For children)

Water is the first medicine. It affects and connects us all. When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth and poison her people's water, one young water protector takes a stand to defend Earth's most sacred resource. Inspired by the many indigenous-led movements across North America, this bold and lyrical picture book issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth's water from harm and corruption.

Thunder Boy Jr. | by Sherman Alexie ; illustrated by Yuyi Morales.

(For children)

Thunder Boy Jr. wants a normal name...one that's all his own. Dad is known as Big Thunder, but Little Thunder doesn't want to share a name

The night watchman: a novel | Louise Erdrich.

It is 1953. Thomas Wazhushk is the night watchman at the first factory to open near the Turtle Mountain Reservation in rural North Dakota. He is also a prominent Chippewa Council member, trying to understand a new bill that is soon to be put before Congress. The US Government calls it an 'emancipation' bill; but it isn't about freedom - it threatens the rights of Native Americans to their land, their very identity. How can he fight this betrayal?

Unlike most of the girls on the reservation, Pixie - 'Patrice' - Paranteau has no desire to wear herself down on a husband and kids. She works at the factory, earning barely enough to support her mother and brother, let alone her alcoholic father who sometimes returns home to bully her for money. But Patrice needs every penny to get if she's ever going to get to Minnesota to find her missing sister Vera. 

Navajo code talkers | Stuart A. Kallen.

In the South Pacific during World War II, a group of Navajo Marines sent secret messages for the Allies using a code based on the Navajo language. Learn more about these heroes, whose unbreakable code helped win the war.

There there | Tommy Orange.

Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame in Oakland. Dene Oxedrene is pulling his life together after his uncle's death and has come to work the powwow and to honor his uncle's memory. Edwin Frank has come to find his true father. Bobby Big Medicine has come to drum the Grand Entry. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil Red Feather; Orvil has taught himself Indian dance through YouTube videos, and he has come to the Big Oakland Powwow to dance in public for the very first time. Tony Loneman is a young Native American boy whose future seems destined to be as bleak as his past, and he has come to the Powwow with darker intentions--intentions that will destroy the lives of everyone in his path.

Black Elk : the life of an American visionary / Joe Jackson.

Describes the life of the Native American holy man who fought at Little Big Horn, witnessed the death of his cousin Crazy Horse, traveled to Europe as part of Buffalo Bill's Wild West show and became a traditionalist in the Ghost Dance movement.

The earth is weeping : the epic story of the Indian wars for the American West | Peter Cozzens.

Peter Cozzens illuminates the encroachment experienced by the tribes and the tribal conflicts over whether to fight or make peace, and explores the squalid lives of soldiers posted to the frontier and the ethical quandaries faced by generals who often sympathized with their native enemies.

The other slavery : the uncovered story of Indian enslavement in America / Andrés Reséndez.

The sweeping story of the enslavement of tens of thousands of Indians across America, from the time of the conquistadors up to the early 20th century. Since the time of Columbus, Indian slavery was illegal in much of the American continent. Yet, as Andrés Reséndez illuminates, it was practiced for centuries as an open secret. There was no abolitionist movement to protect the tens of thousands of natives who were kidnapped and enslaved by the conquistadors, then forced to descend into the "mouth of hell" of eighteenth-century silver mines or, later, made to serve as domestics for Mormon settlers and rich Anglos. Reséndez builds the case that it was mass slavery--more than epidemics--that decimated Indian populations across North America. 

American Indian Women / Patrick Deval ; translated from the French by Jane-Marie Todd.

American Indian Women weaves together history, anthropology, folklore, and rich visuals to introduce a widely overlooked group. The first part explores American Indian cultures before the arrival of European colonists, delving into tribal mythologies, the role of the Clan Mother in society and religion, family customs, and the complex and varied artistic endeavors of American Indian women. The second part examines encounters between American Indian peoples and the Spanish, British, and French colonists, discussing intermarriage, acculturation, and the lives of prominent female figures including Pocahontas and Sacagawea. Attention is also devoted to the later portrayal of American Indian women in Hollywood and the fetishization of their cultures. The final section celebrates the American Indian Renaissance, exemplified by a new generation of female sachems, or chiefs, warriors, negotiators, educators, and advocates for the civil rights of Native peoples.

Redbone: the true story of a Native American rock band | Christian Staebler & Sonia Paoloni

Brothers Pat and Lolly Vegas were talented Native American rock musicians that took the 1960s Sunset Strip by storm. As the American Indian Movement gained momentum the band took a stand, choosing pride in their ancestry over continued commercial reward. Created in cooperation with the Vegas family, authors Christian Staebler and Sonia Paoloni with artist Thibault Balahy take painstaking steps to ensure the historical accuracy of this important and often overlooked story of America's past.

Unworthy republic: the dispossession of Native Americans and the road to Indian territory |Claudio Saunt.  

A masterful and unsettling history of the forced migration of 80,000 Native Americans across the Mississippi River in the 1830s. Claudio Saunt upends the common view that "Indian Removal" was an inevitable chapter in US expansion across the continent. Instead, Saunt reveals how expulsion became national policy, abetted by southern slave owners and financed by Wall Street. Moving beyond the familiar story of the Trail of Tears, Unworthy Republic offers a fast-paced yet deeply researched account of unbridled greed, government indifference, and administrative incompetence. The consequences of this vast transfer of land and wealth still resonate today.

When the light of the world was subdued, our songs came through: a Norton anthology of Native nations poetry | editors Joy Harjo, LeAnne Howe Jennifer Foerster.

United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo gathers the work of more than 160 poets, representing nearly 100 indigenous nations, into the first historically comprehensive Native poetry anthology. This landmark anthology celebrates the indigenous peoples of North America, the first poets of this country, whose literary traditions stretch back centuries. The book contains powerful introductions from contributing editors who represent the five geographically organized sections. Each section begins with a poem from traditional oral literatures and closes with emerging poets.

An indigenous peoples' history of the United States for young people | Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese.

Going beyond the story of America as a country "discovered" by a few brave men in the "New World," Indigenous human rights advocate Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz reveals the roles that settler colonialism and policies of American Indian genocide played in forming our national identity.

Crazy Horse weeps: the challenge of being Lakota in white America | Joseph M. Marshall III.

Poverty, physical abuse, suicide, and addiction have all reached epidemic proportions on South Dakota's Indian reservations. Crazy Horse Weeps offers a thorough historical overview of how South Dakota reservations have wound up in these tragic circumstances. These extraordinary challenges, Marshall argues, can be overcome. Using his extensive experience in traditional Lakota wisdom, he proposes a return to traditional tribal values and outlines a plan for a hopeful future.

Lakota America: a new history of indigenous power | Pekka Hamalainen.

Pekka Hamalainen explores the Lakotas' roots as marginal hunter-gatherers and reveals how they reinvented themselves twice: first as a river people who dominated the Missouri Valley, America's great commercial artery, and then in what was America's first sweeping westward expansion as a horse people who ruled supreme on the vast high plains. The Lakotas are imprinted in American historical memory. Hamalainen's deeply researched and engagingly written history places the Lakotas at the center of American history, and the results are revelatory.

As we have always done indigenous freedom through radical resistance | Leanne Betasamosake Simpson.

Simpson locates Indigenous political resurgence as a practice rooted in uniquely Indigenous theorizing, writing, organizing, and thinking. Indigenous resistance is a radical rejection of contemporary colonialism focused around refusing the dispossession of Indigenous bodies and land. Simpson makes clear that the resistance's goal can no longer be cultural resurgence as a mechanism for inclusion in a multicultural mosaic. Instead, she calls for unapologetic, place-based Indigenous alternatives to the destructive logics of the settler colonial state, including heteropatriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalist exploitation.

Critically sovereign: indigenous gender, sexuality, and feminist studies |Joanne Barker.

Critically Sovereign traces the ways in which gender is inextricably a part of Indigenous politics and U.S. and Canadian imperialism and colonialism. The contributors show how gender, sexuality, and feminism work as co-productive forces of Native American and Indigenous sovereignty, self-determination, and epistemology. Following the politics of gender, sexuality, and feminism across these diverse historical and cultural contexts, the contributor’s question and reframe the thinking about Indigenous knowledge, nationhood, citizenship, history, identity, belonging, and the possibilities for a decolonial future.

Native American clothing: an illustrated history | Theodore Brasser.

A collection of photographs from museums, collectors and private dealers that documents five centuries of Native American artistry.

Our history is the future: Standing Rock versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the long tradition of Indigenous resistance | Nick Estes.

In 2016, a small protest encampment at the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota, initially established to block construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, grew to be the largest Indigenous protest movement in the twenty-first century, attracting tens of thousands of Indigenous and non-Native allies from around the world. Its slogan "Mni Wiconi" - Water is Life -was about more than just a pipeline. Nick Estes traces traditions of Indigenous resistance leading to the #NoDAPL movement from the days of the Missouri River trading forts through the Indian Wars. Estes also draws on observations from the encampments and from growing up as a citizen of the Oceti Sakowin (the Nation of the Seven Council Fires), making Our History is the Future at once a work of history, a personal story, and a manifesto.

The heartbeat of Wounded Knee : native America from 1890 to the present | David Treuer.

The received idea of Native American history as promulgated by books like Dee Brown's 1970 mega-bestselling Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee has been that American Indian history essentially ended with the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, David Treuer has uncovered a different narrative. Because they did not disappear and not despite but rather because of their intense struggles to preserve their language, their traditions, their families, and their very existence the story of American Indians since the end of the nineteenth century to the present is one of unprecedented resourcefulness and reinvention.

Sovereign acts: contesting colonialism across indigenous nations and Latinx America | Frances Negrón-Muntaner.

This paradigm-shifting work examines the new ways colonized peoples resist subjugation and reclaim rights and political power.

Stone heart: a novel of Sacajawea | Diane Glancy.

Stone Heart is a gripping retelling of the story of American legend Sacajawea, the young Shoshoni woman who traveled with Lewis and Clark on their expedition to the West. Presented in Sacajawea's own voice juxtaposed with excerpts from Lewis and Clark's diaries, it is a work of moving and illuminating fiction cast from a famed piece of history that has long been masked by myth. Glancy's Sacajawea experiences the expedition on a different plane, one that lies between the terrestrial and the magical, where clouds speak, and ghost horses roam the plains. Both stunningly imagined and meticulously faithful to events, Stone Heart draws a lingering portrait of a woman of resilience and courage.

 

Movie List

TITLE SUMMARY

Smoke Signals

Arnold (Gary Farmer) rescued Thomas (Evan Adams) from a fire when he was a child. Thomas thinks of Arnold as a hero, while Arnold's son Victor (Adam Beach) resents his father's alcoholism, violence and abandonment of his family. Uneasy rivals and friends, Thomas and Victor spend their days killing time on a Coeur d'Alene reservation in Idaho and arguing about their cultural identities. When Arnold dies, the duo set out on a cross-country journey to Phoenix to retrieve Arnold's ashes.

Drunktowns Finest

The tough upbringing on a reservation pushes three young Native Americans to try and escape from their troubles.

A Thousand Roads

The lives of four Native Americans take significant turns as they confront the crises that arise in a single day. A young Inupiat girl, a Navajo homeboy, a Mohawk stockbroker, and a Quechua healer journey through the epic landscapes of Alaska, New Mexico, Manhattan, and Peru, drawing strength from their tribal pasts to transcend the challenges of the day and embrace the promises that await them.

Barking Water

Hoping to see his daughter and grandchild, a terminally ill man (Richard Ray Whitman) embarks on a road trip with his former lover (Casey Camp-Horinek).

Edge of America

A teacher takes a job on an American Indian reservation and becomes the coach of a ragtag girls' basketball team.

On the Ice

Two teenage best friends cause a tragic accident with another boy and weave a web of lies to avoid taking responsibility.

Mekko

Mekko, released from prison after a 19-year sentence, has nowhere to go and sleeps on the streets. When he is taken in by the native community, he becomes convinced that a man among their ranks is a witch.

Little Chief

The lives of a Native woman and a troubled young boy intersect over the course of a school day on a reservation in Oklahoma.

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World

Catherine Bainbridge examines the role of Native Americans in contemporary music history. She exposes a critical missing chapter, revealing how indigenous musicians helped influence popular culture.

Warrior Women

A documentary which details the life of Lakota activist and community organizer Madonna Thunder Hawk, whose career fighting for indigenous and women’s rights has now spanned over 50 years.

Little Big Man

When a curious oral historian turns up to hear the life story of 121-year-old Jack Crabb, he can scarcely believe his ears. Crabb tells of having been rescued and raised by the Cheyenne, of working as a snake-oil salesman, as a gunslinger, and as a mule skinner under Gen. Custer. As if those weren't astonishing enough, he also claims to be the only white survivor of the infamous Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Wind River

The film is about a Native woman who is killed, and whose death is investigated by a federal agent who realizes very quickly the red tape that keeps many Native women’s cases from being solved.

Wild Indian

Makwa, a young Anishinaabe boy, has a rough life. He often appears at school with bruises he says he got falling down, but no one believes him. He and his only friend, Ted-O, like to escape by playing in the woods, until the day Makwa shockingly murders a schoolmate. After covering up the crime, the two boys go on to live very different lives. Now, as adult men, they must face the truth of what they have done and what they have become.

Gather

The progression of settler-colonialism supplanted many tribes’ food cultivation practices through encroachment and land desecration. In this documentary, Native Americans on the front lines of a growing movement reconnect with spiritual and cultural identities that were devastated by genocide.

nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up

This documentary follows the story of a Cree tribal member Colten Boushie, who was killed by gunshot for trespassing on non-Native land. Outraged by the dehumanizing social media vitriol directed at Boushie’s memory, the victim’s family and peers contest the narrative that Boushie and his friends were looking to steal from the rancher who killed him.