Recommended Reads - Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month began as American Indian Week in 1986, and in 1990 became National American Indian Heritage Month. The observance was renamed Native American Heritage Month in 2009. November was chosen to coincide with the traditional end of harvest season. Here are some materials to learn about their culture, heritage, and history.

American Indian: Celebrating the Traditions and Arts of Native Americans

by Ashley Kircher

American Indian art and culture is vibrant and thriving today, with exciting new artists, writers, filmmakers, and chefs drawing on inspirations from the cutting edge of the 21st century to the most hallowed traditions of their ancestors. This gorgeous, oversized art book explores the intersection where the new generation meets the wisdom of the elders.

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Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices

by Various Authors

Anthology of art and writings from some of the most groundbreaking Native artists working in North America today who contribute thoughtful and heartfelt pieces on their experiences growing up Indigenous, expressing them through such mediums as art, food, the written word, sport, dance, and fashion. Whether addressing the effects of residential schools, calling out bullies through personal manifestos, or simply citing hopes for the future, Dreaming In Indian refuses to shy away from difficult topics.

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Everything You Know About Indians is Wrong

by Paul Chaat Smith

In this sweeping work of memoir and commentary, leading cultural critic Paul Chaat Smith illustrates with dry wit and brutal honesty the contradictions of life in "the Indian business."

Smith walks this tightrope between comforting and dangerous, offering unrepentant skepticism and, ultimately, empathy. "This book is called Everything You Know about Indians Is Wrong , but it's a book title, folks, not to be taken literally. Of course I don't mean everything, just most things. And 'you' really means we, as in all of us."

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The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present

by David Treuer

In The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, Treuer melds history with reportage and memoir. Tracing the tribes' distinctive cultures from first contact, he explores how the depredations of each era spawned new modes of survival. The devastating seizures of land gave rise to increasingly sophisticated legal and political maneuvering that put the lie to the myth that Indians don't know or care about property. The forced assimilation of their children at government-run boarding schools incubated a unifying Native identity. Conscription in the US military and the pull of urban life brought Indians into the mainstream and modern times, even as it steered the emerging shape of self-rule and spawned a new generation of resistance. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee is the essential, intimate story of a resilient people in a transformative era.

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An Indigenous People’s History of the United States

by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Today in the United States, there are more than five hundred federally recognized Indigenous nations comprising nearly three million people, descendants of the fifteen million native people who once inhabited this land. The centuries-long genocidal program of the U.S. settler-colonial regimen has largely been omitted from history. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz adroitly challenges the founding myth of the United States and shows how policy against the indigenous peoples was colonialist and designed to seize the territories of the original inhabitants, displacing or eliminating them. And as Dunbar-Ortiz reveals, this policy was praised in popular culture and in the highest offices of government and the military.Spanning more than four hundred years, this classic bottom-up peoples' history radically reframes U.S. history and explodes the silences that have haunted our national narrative.

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Legends of American Indian Resistance

by Edward J. Rielly

Legends of American Indian Resistance describes the plight of Native Americans from the 17th through the 20th century as they struggled to maintain their land, culture, and lives, and the major Indian leaders who resisted the inevitable result.

It also discusses American Indian leaders over the course of four centuries, offering a chronological history of the Indian resistance effort. Organized into 12 chapters, each describes the life and accomplishments of a major American Indian resistance leader, providing an engaging overview of the many systematic efforts to subjugate Native Americans and take possession of their valuable land and resources.

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Native Nations: Cultures and Histories of Native North America

by Nancy Bonvillain

Native Nations provides context for the regional and tribe-specific chapters through a brief overview of Native American history beginning around 1500 and covering the early period of European exploration and colonization. The book details both U.S. and Canadian policies affecting the lives, cultures, and survival of more than five hundred Native nations on this continent. Finally it offers up-to-date demographics and addresses significant social, economic, and political issues concerning Native communities.

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Rez Life: An Indian’s Journey Through Reservation Life

by David Treuer

A member of the Ojibwe of northern Minnesota, David Treuer grew up on Leech Lake Reservation, but was educated in mainstream America. Exploring crime and poverty, casinos and wealth, and the preservation of native language and culture, Rez Life is a strikingly original blend of history, memoir, and journalism, a must read for anyone interested in the Native American story. With authoritative research and reportage, he illuminates issues of sovereignty, treaty rights, and natural-resource conservation. Ultimately, he shows how casinos, tribal government, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have transformed the landscape of modern Native American life.

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RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World

by Stevie Salas

This revelatory documentary brings to light the profound and overlooked influence of Indigenous people on popular music in North America. Focusing on music icons like Link Wray, Jimi Hendrix, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Taboo (The Black Eyed Peas), Charley Patton, Mildred Bailey, Jesse Ed Davis, Robbie Robertson, and Randy Castillo, RUMBLE shows how these pioneering Native American musicians helped shape the soundtracks of our lives.

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The Warrior Tradition

by Lawrence Hott.

The Warrior Tradition tells the astonishing, heartbreaking, inspiring, and largely-untold story of Native Americans in the United States military. The film chronicles the accounts of Native American warriors from their own points of view stories of service and pain, of courage and fear. The old duality of the Noble Savage/helpless victim has dominated our cultural portrait of Native Americans for fifty years. But it's a more complicated story. Indian warriors have a wide mix of emotions and motives - patriotism, pride, rage, courage, practicality, and spirituality all mingle with an abiding respect for tribal, familial, and national traditions.

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