You don’t need to wait until a specific day or change in season to dive into the rich and often painful history of the land that so many of us currently inhabit. Below, you will find resources that have been written or illustrated by Indigenous people of North America. While some are filled with the tragic truths of colonization, others are beautiful and poetic celebrations of culture and heritage. We encourage you to dive into these resources often—year-round!
Books for Children
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Told in lively and powerful verse by debut author Kevin Noble Maillard, Fry Bread is an evocative depiction of a modern Native American family, vibrantly illustrated by Pura Belpre Award winner and Caldecott Honoree Juana Martinez-Neal.
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, We Are Water Protectors issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth’s water from harm and corruption—a bold and lyrical picture book.
When We Are Kind celebrates simple acts of everyday kindness and encourages children to explore how they feel when they initiate and receive acts of kindness in their lives.
Celebrated author Monique Gray Smith has written many books on the topics of resilience and reconciliation and communicates an important message through carefully chosen words for readers of all ages.
When We Are Kind / Nihá’ádaahwiinít’í̂j̨go, written by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt, and translated by Mildred Walters, $18.335, Bookshop
The cone-shaped jingles sewn to Grandma Wolfe’s dress sing tink, tink, tink, tink…
Jenna loves the tradition of jingle dancing that has been shared over generations in her family and intertribal community. She hopes to dance at the next powwow. But with the day quickly approaching, she has a problem—how will her dress sing if it has no jingles?
Native Authors to Read
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Sherman Alexie is one of the best known Native American writers today. He has authored several novels and collections of poetry and short stories, a number of which have garnered him prestigious awards, including a National Book Award. In his work, Alexie draws on his experiences growing up on the Spokane Indian reservation, addressing sometimes difficult themes like despair, poverty, alcoholism, and Native American identity with humor and compassion. As a result, no survey of Native American literature is complete without Alexie’s work.
A key figure in the first wave of the “Native American Renaissance” (a term fraught with controversy, but that’s another discussion), Silko is an accomplished writer who has been the recipient of MacArthur Foundation Grants and a lifetime achievement award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas. Her most well-known work is the novel Ceremony, in which she draws on her Laguna heritage to tell the story of a WWII veteran returning home from the war to his poverty-striken reservation. She has written numerous novels, short stories, and poems in the years since, and remains a powerful figure in American literature.
One of the most outspoken voices in Indian affairs for decades, Vine Deloria’s writings helped to redefine Native activism in the 60s and 70s. He is perhaps best-known for his book Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto, which upon its publication in 1969 generated unprecedented attention to Indian issues. He would go on to write more than 20 books, addressing stereotypes, challenging accepted ideas of American history, and helping the American Indian Movement to gain momentum.
A writer, teacher, artist, and storyteller, N. Scott Momaday is one of the most celebrated Native American writers of the past century. His novel, House Made of Dawn, is widely credited with helping Native American writers break into the mainstream and won Momaday the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969. Since then, he has published several more novels, collections of short stories, plays, and poems and has been honored with numerous awards, including a National Medal of Arts and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas. He was also made Poet Laureate of Oklahoma.
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Minnesota Native News is a weekly radio segment covering ideas and events relevant to Minnesota’s Native American communities.
Interviews with Scholars of Native America about their New Books.
All My Relations is a podcast hosted by Matika Wilbur (Swinomish and Tulalip), and Desi Small Rodriguez (Northern Cheyenne) [previously by Dr. Keene] to explore relationships— relationships to land, to our creatural relatives, and to one another. Each episode invites guests to delve into a different topic facing Native American peoples today.
In Native Lights, people in Native communities around Mni Sota Mkoce – a.k.a. Minnesota – tell their stories about finding their gifts and sharing them with the community. These are stories of joy, strength, history, and change from Native people who are shaping the future and honoring those who came before them.