By Librarian Hanna, Coulee City Library
This resource list contains books, films, and music in various formats celebrating Native American Heritage Month for teens and adults. This month-long celebration originated over 100 years ago to recognize the contributions the first Americans made — and continue to make — to the United States. Modern celebrations dually honor Native American cultures, achievements, and wisdom and educate about the United State’s ugly history (and present acts) of land theft and other injustices. These resources offer varied perspectives on Native American life. Feel free to read outside your age group!
Young Adult Fiction
Imagine an America very similar to our own. It’s got homework, best friends, and pistachio ice cream. There are some differences. This America has been shaped dramatically by the magic, monsters, knowledge, and legends of its peoples, those Indigenous and those not. Seventeen-year-old Elatsoe (“Ellie” for short) lives in this slightly stranger America. She can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Her beloved cousin has just been murdered, in a town that wants no prying eyes. But she is going to do more than pry. The picture-perfect façade of Willowbee masks gruesome secrets, and she will rely on her wits, skills, and friends to tear off the mask and protect her family.
Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, either in her hometown or on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. She dreams of college, but when her family is struck by tragedy she puts her future on hold to care for her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, a new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. When Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, she reluctantly agrees to go undercover, drawing on her knowledge of chemistry and Ojibwe traditional medicine to track down the source of a new drug. How far will she go to protect her community, if it threatens to tear apart the only world she’s ever known?
Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are an emotional and enlightening journey through Indigenous wonderworks, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.
How can Shane reconcile his feelings for David with his desire for a better life? Shane is still reeling from the suicide of his kid sister, Destiny. How could he have missed the fact that she was so sad? He tries to share his grief with his girlfriend, Tara. What he really wants is to be able to turn to the one person whom he loves — his friend, David. Things go from bad to worse as Shane’s dream of going to university is shattered and his grieving mother withdraws from the world. Worst of all, he and David have to hide their relationship from everyone. With deep insight into the life of Indigenous people on the reserve, this book masterfully portrays how a community looks to the past for guidance and comfort while fearing a future of poverty and shame.
After being taught in a boarding school run by whites that Navajo is a useless language, Ned Begay and other Navajo men are recruited by the Marines to become Code Talkers, sending messages during World War II in their native tongue.
The winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world. A ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. An epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade
Alone in the world and placed in a horrific boarding school, Saul is surrounded by violence and cruelty. At the urging of a priest, he finds a tentative salvation in hockey. Rising at dawn to practice alone, Saul proves determined and undeniably gifted. His intuition and vision are unmatched. His speed is remarkable. Together they open doors for him: away from the school, into an all-Ojibway amateur circuit, and finally within grasp of a professional career. Yet as Saul’s victories mount, so do the indignities and the taunts, the racism and the hatred-the harshness of a world that will never welcome him. A heartbreaking account of a dark chapter in our history and a moving coming-of-age story.
Rosalie Iron Wing has grown up in the woods with her father, Ray, a former science teacher who tells her stories of plants, of the stars, of the origins of the Dakota people. Until, one morning, Ray doesn’t return from checking his traps. Told she has no family, Rosalie is sent to live with a foster family in nearby Mankato -— where the reserved, bookish teenager meets rebellious Gaby Makespeace, in a friendship that transcends the damaged legacies they’ve inherited. On a winter’s day many years later, Rosalie returns to her childhood home. A widow and mother, she has spent the previous two decades on her white husband’s farm, finding solace in her garden even as the farm is threatened first by drought and then by a predatory chemical company. Now, grieving, Rosalie begins to confront the past, on a search for family, identity, and a community where she can finally belong.
This Town Sleeps by Dennis E. Staples. Print.
Set on an Ojibwe reservation in northern Minnesota, This Town Sleeps is the story of Marion Lafournier, a gay Ojibwe man, and his search for meaning in a town he cannot seem to leave. When he begins a romance with a closeted former high school classmate Shannon, Marion finds himself struggling to connect with the volcanic and unstable man. One night, while roaming the dark streets of Geshig, Marion unknowingly brings to life a dog from underneath the elementary school playground. The mysterious revenant leads him to the grave of Kayden Kelliher, an Ojibwe basketball star who was murdered at the young age of 17. While investigating the fallen hero’s death, Marion discovers family connections and an old Ojibwe legend that may be the secret to unraveling the mystery he has found himself in.
A bold and breathtaking anthology of queer Indigenous speculative fiction, edited by the author of Jonny Appleseed. This exciting and groundbreaking fiction anthology showcases a number of new and emerging 2SQ (Two-Spirit and queer) Indigenous writers from across Turtle Island. These visionary authors show how queer Indigenous communities can bloom and thrive through utopian narratives that detail the vivacity and strength of 2SQness throughout its plight in the maw of settler colonialism’s histories. Here, readers will discover bioengineered AI rats, transplanted trees in space, the rise of a 2SQ resistance camp, a primer on how to survive Indigiqueerly, virtual reality applications, mother ships at sea, and the very bending of space-time continuums queered through NDN time.
Carry by Toni Jensen. Print.
Toni Jensen grew up in the Midwest around guns: As a girl, she learned how to shoot birds with her father, a card-carrying member of the NRA. As an adult, she’s had guns waved in her face in the fracklands around Standing Rock, and felt their silent threat on the concealed-carry campus where she teaches. As a Métis woman, she is no stranger to the violence enacted on the bodies of indigenous women, on indigenous land, and the ways it is hidden, ignored, forgotten.
We Had a Little Real Estate Problem: The Unheralded Story of Native Americans in Comedy by Kliph Nesteroff. Print.
Comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff focuses on one of comedy’s most significant and little-known stories: how, despite having been denied representation in the entertainment industry, Native Americans have influenced and advanced the art form. Profiles important events and humorists from the 1880s to the present
Indian Givers: How Native Americans Transformed the World by J. McIver Weatherford Print.
Beloved author Jack Weatherford’s classic work is now available with a new introduction by the author. ‘Indian Givers’ is the utterly compelling story of how the cultural, social, and political practices of Native Americans transformed the way life is lived throughout the world
The gospel of Jesus has not always been good news for Native Americans. But despite the far-reaching effects of colonialism, some Natives have forged culturally authentic ways to follow Jesus. In his final work, Richard Twiss surveys the complicated history of Christian missions among Indigenous peoples and voices a hopeful vision of contextual Native Christian faith.
In matter-of-fact responses to over 120 questions, both thoughtful and outrageous, modern and historical, Ojibwe scholar and cultural preservationist Anton Treuer gives a frank, funny, and sometimes personal tour of what’s up with Indians. What is the real story of Thanksgiving? -Why are tribal languages important? -What do you think of that incident where people died in a sweat lodge? White/Indian relations are often characterized by guilt and anger. Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians but Were Afraid to Ask cuts through the emotion and builds a foundation for true understanding and positive action.
The Good Berry Cookbook: Harvesting and Cooking Wild Rice and Other Wild Foods by Tashia Hart. Print.
Manoomin, wild rice, also known as “the good berry,” first drew the Anishinaabeg people to the Great Lakes region in search of the prophesied “food that grows on water.” Honoring the sustenance they found in the place known as Mni Sota Makoce, The Good Berry Cookbook follows the Anishinaabeg through seasons and spaces to gather wild foods and contemplate connections among the people and their plant and animal relatives. Hart shares foraging tips and basic preparations that equip home cooks to expand their repertoire. She invites other talented Native cooks and chefs to share favorite recipes.
In these poems, the joys and struggles of the everyday are played against the grinding politics of being human. Beginning in a hotel room in the dark of a distant city, we travel through history and follow the memory of the Trail of Tears from the bend in the Tallapoosa River to a place near the Arkansas River. Stomp dance songs, blues, and jazz ballads echo throughout. Lost ancestors are recalled. Resilient songs are born, even as they grieve the loss of their country.
Walking on Earth & Touching the Sky by Lakota Youth at Red Cloud Indian School Print.
Collects poetry written by Lakota students at Red Cloud Indian School in South Dakota on such topics as the history of oral tradition, the struggles of everyday life, and their personal connections to the natural world.
Living Nations, Living Words : An Anthology of First Peoples Poetry collected by Joy Harjo. Print.
Joy Harjo, the first Native poet to serve as U.S. Poet Laureate, has championed the voices of Native peoples past and present. Her signature laureate project gathers the work of contemporary Native poets into a national, fully digital map of story, sound, and space, celebrating their vital and unequivocal contributions to American poetry. This companion anthology features each poem and poet from the project to offer readers a chance to hold the wealth of poems in their hands. With work from Natalie Diaz, Ray Young Bear, Craig Santos Perez, Sherwin Bitsui, Layli Long Soldier, among others.
New poets of Native Nations edited by Heid E. Erdrich Print
New Poets of Native Nations gathers poets of diverse ages, styles, languages, and tribal affiliations to present the extraordinary range and power of new Native poetry. Heid E. Erdrich has selected twenty-one poets whose first books were published after the year 2000 to highlight the exciting works coming up after Joy Harjo and Sherman Alexie. Collected here are poems of great breadth–long narratives, political outcries, experimental works, and traditional lyrics–and the result is an essential anthology of some of the best poets writing now.
Nature Poem follows Teebs — a young, queer, American Indian poet — who can’t bring himself to write a nature poem. For the reservation-born, urban-dwelling hipster, the exercise feels stereotypical, reductive, and boring. He hates nature. He prefers city lights to the night sky. While he’s adamant about his distaste for the word “natural,” over the course of the book we see him confronting the assimilationist, historical, colonial-white ideas that collude people like himself with nature. But Teebs gradually learns how to interpret constellations through his own lens, along with human nature, sexuality, language, music, and Twitter. Even while he reckons with manifest destiny and genocide and centuries of disenfranchisement, he learns how to have faith in his own voice.