November is Native American Heritage Month
On August 3rd, 1990 the month of November was declared to Native American Heritage Month. Although there had been attempts at establishing a national day previously, and some states had adopted a day, it wasn’t until the bill was passed in 1990 that it was declared federally. Here are 12 recommended books and a few movies to help honor Native American Heritage Month.
By Susan Power
Presented in the form of interconnected short stories, each told from a different point of view provides the reader with a snapshot of the life of one tribe from the 1860s through the 1980s. The novel includes non-human as well as human characters; the spirit world is an important part of all the stories, and ghosts and magical powers are part of the characters’ everyday lives.
By Louise Erdrich
A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store’s most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls’ Day, but she simply won’t leave the store. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration that she survived by reading with murderous attention, must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation, and furious reckoning.
By Richard Wagamese
Saul Indian Horse is in trouble, and there seems to be only one way out. As he journeys his way back through his life as a northern Ojibway, from the horrors of residential school to his triumphs on the hockey rink, he must question everything he knows.
By Velma Wallis
Based on a legend told and retold for many generations in the remote Yukon River region of northeast Alaska, this is the tragic and shocking story (with an unexpected upbeat ending) of two elderly women who are abandoned by a migrating band facing starvation because of unusually harsh Arctic weather and a shortage of fish and game.
By Sean Sherman and Beth Dooley
Here is real food: indigenous American fruits and vegetables, wild and foraged grains, game, and fish. Locally sourced, seasonal, “clean” ingredients and nose-to-tail cooking are nothing new to Sean Sherman, the Oglala Lakota chef and founder of The Sioux Chef. Sherman dispels outdated notions of Native American fare – no fry bread or Indian tacos here – and uses no European staples such as wheat flour, dairy products, sugar, and domestic pork and beef. Contemporary and authentic, his recipes include Cedar-Braised Bison, Griddled Wild Rice Cakes, Amaranth Crackers with Smoked White Bean Paste, Three Sisters Salad, Deviled Duck Eggs, Smoked Turkey Soup, Roasted Corn Sorbet, and Hazelnut-Maple Bites.
By Toni Jensen
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. And she has always known she is not alone. 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. In Carry, Jensen maps her personal experience onto the historical, exploring how history is lived in the body and redefining the language we use to speak about violence in America.
Please note: This is an ebook
By Leslie Marmon Silko
Silko takes readers along on her daily walks through the arroyos and ledges of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, weaving tales from both sides of her family’s past into her observations, and using the turquoise stones that she finds on her walks to unite the strands of her stories.
By Joy Harjo
Poet Laureate Joy Harjo offers a vivid, lyrical, and inspiring call for love and justice in this contemplation of her trailblazing life. A musical, kaleidoscopic meditation, Poet Warrior reveals how Harjo came to write poetry of compassion and healing, poetry with the power to unearth the truth and demand justice. Weaving together the voices that shaped her, Harjo listens to stories of ancestors and family, the poetry and music that she first encountered as a child, the teachings of a changing earth, and the poets who paved her way. She explores her grief at the loss of her mother and sheds light on the rituals that nourish her as an artist, mother, wife, and community member.
By Angeline Boulley
Eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. She dreams of a fresh start at college, but when family tragedy strikes, Daunis puts her future on hold to look after her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into an FBI investigation of a lethal new drug.
By Cherie Dimaline
In a future world ravaged by global warming, people have lost the ability to dream, and the dreamlessness has led to widespread madness. The only people still able to dream are North America’s indigenous population– and it is their marrow that holds the cure for the rest of the world. But getting the marrow– and dreams– means death for the unwilling donors. Driven to flight, a 15-year-old and his companions struggle for survival, attempt to reunite with loved ones, and take refuge from the “recruiters” who seek them out to bring them to the marrow-stealing ‘factories’.
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
When Louise Wolfe’s boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. She’d rather spend her senior year with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper. The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, an ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time the paper’s staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director’s inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town. As tensions mount at school, so does a romance between Lou and Joey. But ‘dating while Native’ can be difficult. In trying to protect her own heart, will Lou break Joey’s?
By Tasha Spillett and Natasha Donovan
Miikwan and Dez are best friends. Miikwan’s Anishinaabe; Dez is Inninew. Together, the teens navigate the challenges of growing up in an urban landscape – they’re so close, they even completed their Berry Fast together. However, when Dez’s grandmother becomes too sick, Dez is told she can’t stay with her anymore. With the threat of a group home looming, Dez can’t bring herself to go home and disappears. Miikwan is devastated, and the wound of her missing mother resurfaces. Will Dez’s community find her before it’s too late? Will Miikwan be able to cope if they don’t?
A shaman has placed a curse on a nomadic Inuit village in the Canadian Arctic leading to malevolence and violence among the clan’s leader and Atanarjuat, a man who has stolen the affections of the clan’s betrothed; Atanarjuat escapes the village, only to return stronger and with the power to break the curse. This was one of the first films to be filmed entirely in the Inuktitut language.
Documentary/ Prairie Ecology
Tells the story of one of the world’s great ecosystems and its transformation from natural landscape to farmland. The tallgrass prairie was once a prominent feature of the North American continent that was reduced, in less than a century, to the vanishing point.
On a beautifully desolate Navajo reservation in New Mexico, three young people, a college-bound, devout Christian woman; a rebellious and angry father-to-be; and a promiscuous but gorgeous transsexual woman, search for love and acceptance. As the three find their lives becoming more complicated and their troubles growing, their paths begin to intersect.
Documentary/ History and Criticism
Traveling through the heartland of the U.S., to the Black Hills and Monument Valley, Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond examines how the myth of the movie “Injun” has influenced the world’s understanding — and misunderstanding — of Natives. With clips from hundreds of classic and recent films document the shift from nuanced silent-era heroes to the Western’s “noble savage” stereotype, leading up to the bourgeoning Native independent scene of Smoke Signals and The Fast Runner. Containing candid interviews with celebrated directors, writers, actors and activists, including Clint Eastwood, Robbie Robertson, Sacheen Littlefeather, John Trudell, and Russell Means.