November is National Native American Heritage Month or American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. It celebrates and recognizes the varied and rich cultures, traditions, history, and societal contributions of America’s indigenous people to the growth of the United States.
In the early 20th century, there was a push to have a day set aside for Native Americans. Part of that history happens to involve the 1915 annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting held in Lawrence, Kansas. Over time, American Indian Day was declared by individual states until 1990, when President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Since 1994, similar proclamations have been issued.
About National Native American Heritage Month. (n.d.). Native American Heritage Month. Retrieved November 18, 2022, from https://www.nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov/about/
To celebrate, we’ve gathered a list of books written by Native American or American Indian authors. Start reading them today to learn more about Native cultures from those who know them best. Fiction and nonfiction are included for varied reading enjoyment.
DB 91321 There there by Tommy Orange
Twelve people, all Native American, have their own reasons to travel to the Big Oakland Powwow. Some are looking to reconnect with family or share in a celebration of their culture, but not all those gathered have good intentions. Violence and strong language. Commercial audiobook. 2018.
DB 105284 The seed keeper by Diane Wilson
Rosalie Iron Wing grew up in the woods with her father, Ray, who told her stories of the natural world and the origins of the Dakota people. When he disappeared, Rosalie went into foster care. Years later, she returns home to the family cabin and remembers her father's teachings. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2021.
DB 104847 My heart is a chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
In a quickly gentrifying rural town, tourists begin to die, and the tension between the community and the celebrity newcomers heads to a tipping point. Protected by her encyclopedic knowledge of horror films, Jade, of Blackfoot descent, hopes it is enough to help her survive. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2021.
DB 108091 Heart berries: a memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot
"Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder, Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot's mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father, an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist, who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame. Mailhot trusts the reader to understand that memory isn't exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept. Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world." -- Amazon. -- Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2018.
DB 92274 Braiding sweetgrass: indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation argues that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of a reciprocal relationship with the world. Shares stories learned from her elders about the world around them and ways of approaching scientific inquiry. Commercial audiobook. 2013.
DB 75327 When my brother was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz
Collection of poetry exploring themes of family, life on tribal lands, and personal responsibility. In the title poem the narrator expresses sorrow at watching her brother spiral out of control while their parents sacrificed their lives to deal with his meth addiction. Strong language and some descriptions of sex. 2012.
DB 97592 Crazy brave: a memoir by Joy Harjo
The first Native American poet laureate recounts her creative journey. Describes her early years in Oklahoma with an abusive stepfather, finding sanctuary in her imagination, spiritual life, and connection with the natural world. Some strong language. 2012.
DB 98896 The night watchman by Louise Erdrich
1953. Chippewa Council member Thomas Wazhashk tries to balance the demands of his job as a night watchman at the new jewel bearing plant outside the Turtle Mountain reservation and monitoring the consequences of the bill purporting emancipation for Native American tribes wending its way through Congress. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. Bestseller. 2020.
DB 93988 The heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native American from 1890 to the present by David Treuer
A history of Native Americans, beginning with the 1890 massacre of Sioux at Wounded Knee and continuing up through the early twenty-first century. An Ojibwe Indian himself, the author discusses the treatment of Native Americans by the government. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2019.
DB 94372 Cherokee America by Margaret Verble
When a hired hand, a baby, and a gun go missing from her corner of the Cherokee Nation, Check Singer is determined to find out what happened. She has little time with the post-Civil War US Army encroaching on tribal lands. Strong language and explicit descriptions of sex. 2019.
DB 102680 The removed by Brandon Hobson
As National Cherokee Day approaches, the Echota family still grieves their teenage son, Ray-Ray, who was killed in a police shooting fifteen years ago. The mother, Maria, is dealing with the onset of Alzheimer's in her husband, Ernest. Meanwhile both surviving children face struggles of their own. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2021.
DB 92041 Trail of lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
In the wake of climate disaster, much of the world is underwater, but the Navajo reservation, or Dinétah, still stands thanks to their magic. Maggie Hoskie is a monster hunter looking for a supernatural killer who gets help from Kai, an unconventional medicine man. Violence, strong language, and some descriptions of sex. 2018.
DB 12198 House made of dawn by N. Scott Momaday
A Kiowa Indian poet and scholar traces the experience of an unassimilated Indian who cannot adjust to the white world or identify with the dying culture of the American Indian.