November is Native American Heritage Month. Below you will find stories for all ages by Native American and Indigenous authors to teach, heal, and inspire their readers.
Stolen Words – Melanie Florence When a little girl learns a few words in Cree from school, she is excited to share them with her Grandfather. He shares his story of being a student, when his teachers forced him and his peers to forget his culture. Together they begin a journey to relearn the Cree language and culture. When the Shadbush Blooms – Carla Messinger This unique picture book is told in two generations, about 400 years ago and the present- to beautifully illustrate the ways in which Lenape people have maintained their culture in a changing world. Fry Bread – Kevin Noble Millard This story beautifully celebrates Fry Bread, which has fed a culture for centuries, brought families together, and is meaningful as a tradition to link generations of indigenous peoples.
We are Water Protectors – Carole Lindstrom Carole Lindstrom of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe wrote this beautiful story to connect our nation’s current water crisis to the indigenous teachings of earth, humans, animals, and plants being related. Through a young protagonist, we understand that the fight for clean water is the fight for the health of the Earth and everything that inhabits it. I Can Make This Promise – Christine Day In a powerful middle-grade novel loosely based on her own experiences, Christine Day illustrates Edie, a young girl separated from her Native American heritage by her mother’s adoption by a white couple. One day she discovers a possible connection to a Native person who shares her name, and is inspired to learn everything she can about the lost generation. At the Mountain’s Base – Traci Sorrell This historical fiction picture book brings to life the stories of the Cherokee women pilots of WWII, and members of Indigenous communities who have served our country throughout our history as a nation. Bowwow Powwow – Brenda Child This story is told in English and Ojibwe, and imagines a powwow hosted by dogs like her own, inspired by the powerful stories her uncle has told her about the real powwows he attended as a child. Two Roads – Joseph Bruchac Two Roads is set in 1932 and tells the story of Cal and his father as they navigate the U.S. post great depression. Just after discovering his Creek Indian heritage, Cal is sent to live in the Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school and must navigate this new world with the friends he makes along the way. Indian No More – Charlene Willing McManis The U.S. government deems Regina’s tribe illegitimate, forcing her family to relocate across the country in search of better opportunities. Now living in Los Angeles, Regina and her family begin a new life, with new struggles in the Civil Rights Movement, and rely on one another to maintain their heritage. Birdsong – Julie Flett Birdsong is the charming story of a little girl whose family moves far away from their home, and the bond she forms with her neighbor, Agnes, who teaches her about caring for the earth and appreciating nature.
Elatsoe – Darcie Little Badger Elatsoe, nicknamed Ellie, lives in an America enhanced by the magic and abilities of indigenous peoples. When her beloved cousin is murdered, she uses all resources, including her ghost dog, Kirby, to seek justice. The Black Sun – Rebecca Roanhorse The Black Sun visits a Sci/Fi world of the pre-Columbian Americas on the Winter Solstice that brings about a mysterious “harmless” stranger whose presence is “cloaked in destiny”. An Indigenous People’s History of the United States for Young People – Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz This YA adaptation aims to educate teens and young adults about American History through the perspective of its Native and Indigenous peoples.
Firekeeper’s Daughter – Angeline Boulley Daunis Fontaine is an aspiring doctor whose knowledge of traditional medicine and determination are put to the test when she is thrust into the middle of a murder investigation. Give Me Some Truth – Eric Gansworth High school seniors Carson and Maggi navigate young love, racial violence, and independence in their pursuit of art and music in this 1980’s-era historical fiction. Apple: Skin to the Core – Eric Gansworth Apple: Skin to the Core is Gansworth’s memoir in verse, photographs, and visual art. He describes the complicated nature of being a young person in the Tuscarora Nation in the U.S.- being simultaneously too white and not white enough- and reclaiming the slur for which the memoir is titled. Hearts Unbroken – Cynthia Leitich Smith After her breakup with an insensitive jerk, Louise shifts her focus to her friends, family, and her newly significant role in the school paper. She and the Photojournalist she is paired with are covering a major news story when they discover a romance they were not anticipating! The Marrow Thieves – Cherie Dimaline The Marrow Thieves is a fascinating dystopian look into the future in a country destroyed by climate change in which the marrow in the bones of its Indigenous people is the only antidote for the ailments that plague the rest of the population. #NotYourPrincess – Lisa Charleyboy This collection of poems, stories, and visual art by Native American and Indigenous women aim to bring visibility to a long-ignored and underrepresented nation of women. Imaginary Borders – Xiuhtezcatl Martinez Another work of the Pocket Change Collective, Imaginary Borders is an information-packed and concise essay that explores climate change through his perspective as a member of an Indigenous community, and the ways in which youth activism can change the world.
There There – Tommy Orange A debut novel for Tommy Orange, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. This novel features chapters told in the perspectives of 12 protagonists and unravels a story in which they are all connected. The Night Watchman – Louise Erdrich Loosely based on the life of Erdrich’s grandfather, The Night Watchman tells the stories of generations of Native Americans and their fight for legitimacy in the eyes of the U.S. government. An American Sunrise – Joy Harjo U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo produced this collection of poems described best by her publisher: “Her poems sing of beauty and survival, illuminating a spirituality that connects her to her ancestors and thrums with the quiet anger of living in the ruins of injustice”
An Indigenous People’s History of the United States – Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz The third of the ReVisioning History series, An Indigenous People’s History of the United States explores over four hundred years of the American experience through the perspective of Native Americans and Indigenous peoples. Braiding Sweetgrass – Robin Wall Kimmerer This moving perspective on the relationship between humans and their planet as it has evolved is equal parts informative, emotional, and inspiring. Botanist and Potawatomi citizen Robin Wall Kimmerer shares her insight from all parts of her life- as a parent, indigenous wisdom, an educator, and human to form this moving collection of essays. Where the Dead Sit Talking – Brandon Hobson Sequoyah and Rosemary form a friendship on the common bond of their Indigenous heritage that has a meaningful impact on them both in this historical fiction novel set in 1980’s Oklahoma. Iwigara – Enrique Salmón Iwigara marries plant biology, Indigenous folklore, and medicine together in a brilliant and beautiful work! Notable Native People – Adrienne Keene This compilation of biographies introduces “50 Indigenous leaders, dreamers, and changemakers from the past and present” of whom readers don’t likely know yet, but will love to learn about! Spirit Run – Noé Ȧlvarez Spirit Run is a memoir detailing the author’s life experience as an Indigenous person in a capitalist country, his discovery of the First Nations organization called Peace and Dignity Journeys, the 6,000 mile marathon from Canada to Guatemala, and the friends and connections to the Earth made along the way. The Removed – Brandon Hobson This novel blends Indigenous folklore with modern realistic fiction in this story about a Cherokee family recovering from the loss of their teenage son/brother to police violence, each member attempting to manage their grief in their own ways.