A Tribute to Native American Heritage

November is Native American Heritage Month, and I have compiled a list of cafebookbean required reading. These books are sure to educate, entertain, and inspire you, while honoring and paying tribute to Native American’s and Their Culture.

The Earth is Weeping   by Peter Cozzens

Bringing together a pageant of fascinating characters including Custer, Sherman, Grant, and a host of other military and political figures, as well as great native leaders such as Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Geronimo, and Red Cloud, The Earth is Weeping—lauded by Booklist as “a beautifully written work of understanding and compassion” is the fullest account to date of how the West was won…and lost.

Rated 4.6 on amazon.com

*Winner of the Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History and the 2017 Caroline Bancroft History Prize
 *Finalist for the Western Writers of America’s 2017 Spur Award in Best Western Historical Nonfiction

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee   by Dee Brown

Immediately recognized as a revelatory and enormously controversial book since its first publication in 1971, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is universally recognized as one of those rare books that forever changes the way its subject is perceived. Now repackaged with a new introduction from bestselling author Hampton Sides to coincide with a major HBO dramatic film of the book, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

Rated 4.7 on amazon.com

Fools Crow   by James Welch

In the Two Medicine territory of Montana, the Pikuni Indians are forced to choose between fighting a futile war or accepting a humiliating surrender as the encroaching numbers of whites threaten their primitive existence.
First published to broad acclaim in 1986, Fools Crow is James Welch’s stunningly evocative portrait of his people’s bygone way of life.

Rated 4.4 on amazon.com

“A novel that in the sweep and inevitability of its events…is a major contribution to Native American literature.” (Wallace Stegner)

Walking on the Wind   by Michael Tlanusta Garrett

In the spirit of the highly acclaimed Medicine of the Cherokee, coauthored with his father J. T. Garrett, Michael Garrett shares with us the delightful, all-ages stories passed down from his great-grandfather and other medicine teachers. Blending his background as an Eastern Cherokee with his skills as a counselor, Michael reveals through these tales how to make sense of our experiences in life, see beauty in them, and be at peace with our choices.

Rated 4.7 on amazon.com

The Birchbark House   by Louise Erdrich

Set in the Lake Superior region in the mid-1800s, The Birchbark House is a vital novel providing fascinating details of a year in the life of young Omakayas, a girl of the Ojibwa.
With exquisite care, National Book Critics Circle Award winner Louise Erdrich has fashioned a story rich in the way of life and heritage of the Ojibwa people, a story that begs to be told out loud.

Rated 4.3 on amazon.com

Trail of Tears   by John Ehle

As a proud member of the Cherokee Nation, I believe the two paragraphs in my school textbook that told of the Trail of Tears, was grossly insufficient. Highly-acclaimed author John Ehle grew up on former Cherokee hunting grounds. His experience as an accomplished novelist, combined with his extensive, meticulous research, culminates in this moving tragedy rich with historical detail. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants a more fulfilling telling of the Trail of Tears.

Rated 4.4 on amazon.com

Heart Berries   by Terese Marie Mailhot
A powerful, poetic memoir of a woman’s coming of age on the Seabird Island Band in the Pacific Northwest. 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 is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. Mailhot trusts the reader to understand that memory isn’t exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept.

Rated 4.2 on amazon.com

Selected by Emma Watson as the Our Shared Shelf Book Club Pick for Mar/Apr ’18
Finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for English-Language NF

Custer Died For Your Sins

Ativist, professor, and attorney Vine Deloria, Jr., shares his thoughts about US race relations, federal bureaucracies, Christian churches, and social scientists in a collection of eleven eye-opening essays infused with humor. This “manifesto” provides valuable insights on American Indian history, Native American culture, and context for minority protest movements mobilizing across the country throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. Originally published in 1969, this book remains a timeless classic and is one of the most significant nonfiction works written by a Native American.

Rated 4.3 on amazon.com

Sequoyah   by James Rumford

The tale of an ordinary man with an extraordinary idea; to create a writing system for the Cherokee Indians and turn his people into a nation of readers and writers. The task he set for himself was daunting. He knew no English and had no idea how to capture speech on paper.
I am so fascinated by this story! One of my favorite thing my grandmother had was a plaque of the Cherokee Alphabet, it inspired a feeling of pride and curiosity, that this story helped to fill.

Rated 4.3 on amazon.com

Empire of the Summer Moon   by S.C. Gweynne

This is a fantastic book that I happened across while walking through Powell’s Book Store. I was drawn to it and devoured it page by page. It is so spectacularly written: dense with information yet it unfolded like a suspenseful yet beautiful novel. It’s no wonder it was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
It is a stunningly vivid historical account of the forty-year battle between Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of the American West, centering on Quanah, the greatest Comanche chief of them all.

Rated 4.6 on amazon.com

There There   by Tommy Orange

A wondrous and shattering portrait of an America few of us have ever seen. Heartbreaking yet fierce, funny, suspenseful, thoroughly modern, and impossible to put down. Here is a voice we have never heard—a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with urgency and force. Tommy Orange has written a stunning novel that grapples with a complex and painful history

Rated 4.0 on amazon.com

If you are looking for something a bit more light and less Historical These two novels are a great choice:

“The Bean Trees” and “Pigs in Heaven”   by Barbara Kingsolver

The charming, engrossing tale of rural Kentucky native Taylor Greer, who only wants to get away from her roots and avoid getting pregnant. She succeeds, but inherits a 3-year-old native-American little girl named Turtle along the way, and together, from Oklahoma to Tucson, Arizona, half-Cherokee Taylor and her charge search for a new life in the West.
Picking up where The Bean Trees left off, Kingsolver’s best-selling Pigs in Heaven continues the tale of Turtle and Taylor Greer, a Native American girl and her adoptive mother who have settled in Tucson, Arizona, as they both try to overcome their difficult pasts

Rated 4.3/4 on amazon.com

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10 thoughts on “A Tribute to Native American Heritage

  1. Pingback: A Tribute to Native American Heritage – worldtraveller70

    • “Fools Crow” is an Award winning Novel from prominent Native American Author James Welch. I personally believe that it respectfully earns its place. However, we all have different views, and that is totally fine 🙂

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  2. Pingback: Other Voices #14 – Riding the Blimp

  3. I loved both There There and Heartberries. Both authors are ones to watch- their voices are scorching.

    I am 3/4 of the way through Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann and would recommend it for your list. Like the prologue in There There it recounts a piece of American history I know was never taught in my school. It’s nonfiction and is about the murder of wealthy Osage Indians in Oklahoma in the 1920s. Fascinating and depressing to see factual evidence of the disregard for Native American lives even in the 20th century.

    Liked by 1 person

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