A groundbreaking Dakota author and activist chronicles her refusal to assimilate into nineteenth-century white society and her mission to preserve her culture--with an introduction by Layli Long Soldier, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award for Whereas.
Bright and carefree, Zitkála-Sá grows up on the Yankton Sioux reservation in South Dakota with her mother until Quaker missionaries arrive, offering the reservation's children a free education. The catch: They must leave their parents behind and travel to Indiana. Curious about the world beyond the reservation, Zitkála-Sá begs her mother to let her go--and her mother, aware of the advantages that an education offers, reluctantly agrees.
Sherman Alexie’s stature as a writer of stories, poems, and novels has soared over the course of his twenty-book, twenty-year career. His wide-ranging, acclaimed stories from the last two decades, from The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven to his most recent PEN/Faulkner award–winning War Dances, have established him as a star in modern literature.
A bold and irreverent observer of life among Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest, the daring, versatile, funny, and outrageous Alexie showcases all his talents in his newest collection, Blasphemy, where he unites fifteen beloved classics with fifteen new stories in one sweeping anthology for devoted fans and first-time readers.
"In this stunning essay-collection-cum-prose-poem-cycle, Belcourt meditates on the difficulty and necessity of finding joy as a queer NDN in a country that denies that joy all too often. Out of the 'ruins of the museum of political depression' springs a 'tomorrow free of the rhetorical trickery of colonizers everywhere.' Happiness, this beautiful book says, is the ultimate act of resistance." --Michelle Hart, O, The Oprah Magazine
The youngest ever winner of the Griffin Prize mines his personal history in a brilliant new essay collection seeking to reconcile the world he was born into with the world that could be.
For readers of Ocean Vuong and Maggie Nelson and fans of Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot, A History of My Brief Body is a brave, raw, and fiercely intelligent collection of essays and vignettes on grief, colonial violence, joy, love, and queerness.
In An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, 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, through writers like James Fenimore Cooper and Walt Whitman, and in the highest offices of government and the military. Shockingly, as the genocidal policy reached its zenith under President Andrew Jackson, its ruthlessness was best articulated by US Army general Thomas S. Jesup, who, in 1836, wrote of the Seminoles: “The country can be rid of them only by exterminating them.”
Love is complicated no matter the setting, but the potential for love is most doomed in the place of Perma, Montana for the protagonist Louise in this novel set in the 1940s. Louise is described as a beautiful mixed blood Native girl coming of age on the Flat Head Indian reservation. Being mixed, lighter skinned, hair red-tinged, she has always been an outsider to the people of her reservation; nicknamed Perma Red, degraded and sexualized from an early age by everyone around her. The story catalogues her paradoxical existence, simultaneously craving acceptance and escape from the Rez.
A bold and profound meditation on trauma, legacy, oppression and racism in North America from an award-winning Haudenosaunee writer.
The Mohawk phrase for depression can be roughly translated to "a mind spread out on the ground." In this urgent and visceral work, Alicia Elliott explores how apt a description that is for the ongoing effects of personal, intergenerational, and colonial traumas she and so many Native people have experienced.
Elliott's deeply personal writing details a life spent between Indigenous and white communities, a divide reflected in her own family, and engages with such wide-ranging topics as race, parenthood, love, art, mental illness, poverty, sexual assault, gentrification, and representation. Throughout, she makes thrilling connections both large and small between the past and present, the personal and political.
Cell Traffic presents new poems and uncollected prose poetry along with selected work from award-winning poet Heid Erdrich's three previous poetry collections. Erdrich's new work reflects her continuing concerns with the tensions between science and tradition, between spirit and body. She finds surprising common ground while exploring indigenous experience in multifaceted ways: personal, familial, biological, and cultural. The title, Cell Traffic, suggests motion and Erdrich considers multiple movements-cellular transfer, the traffic of DNA through body parts and bones, "migration" through procreation, and the larger "movements" of indigenousness and ancestral inheritance.
Thomas Wazhushk is the night watchman at the jewel bearing plant, the first factory located near the Turtle Mountain Reservation in rural North Dakota. He is also a Chippewa Council member who is trying to understand the consequences of a new 'emancipation' bill on its way to the floor of the United States Congress. It is 1953 and he and the other council members know the bill isn't about freedom; Congress is fed up with Indians. The bill is a 'termination' that threatens the rights of Native Americans to their land and their very identity. How can the government abandon treaties made in good faith with Native Americans 'for as long as the grasses shall grow, and the rivers run'?
Erdrich's Tracks is the third in a series of family saga novels, the first two being Love Medicine and Beet Queen, respectively. Tracks is my favorite, though, for its language and vivid imagery. Told in alternating narrators, Nanapush and Pauline, Erdrich brilliantly threads their narratives together into a powerful story. In Nanapush's sections, he is talking to his granddaughter, Lulu, in an attempt to reunite her with her mother, who had sent Lulu off to government school when she was young. The second narrator, Pauline, tells of her connection to Lulu's mother and how Pauline became jealous of her, which begins a descent into witchery and madness. Beautiful and haunting.
In this stunning collection, Joy Harjo finds blessings in the abundance of her homeland and confronts the site where the Mvskoke people, including her own ancestors, were forcibly displaced. From her memory of her mother’s death, to her beginnings in the Native rights movement, to the fresh road with her beloved, Harjo’s personal life intertwines with tribal histories to create a space for renewed beginnings.
In this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo, one of our leading Native American voices, details her journey to becoming a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the Trail of Tears, Harjo grew up learning to dodge an abusive stepfather by finding shelter in her imagination, a deep spiritual life, and connection with the natural world. She attended an Indian arts boarding school, where she nourished an appreciation for painting, music, and poetry; gave birth while still a teenager; and struggled on her own as a single mother, eventually finding her poetic voice. Narrating the complexities of betrayal and love, Crazy Brave is a memoir about family and the breaking apart necessary in finding a voice. Harjo’s tale of a hardscrabble youth, young adulthood, and transformation into an award-winning poet and musician is haunting, unique, and visionary.
United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo gathers the work of more than 160 poets, representing nearly 100 indigenous nations, into the first historically comprehensive Native poetry anthology.
This landmark anthology celebrates the indigenous peoples of North America, the first poets of this country, whose literary traditions stretch back centuries. Opening with a blessing from Pulitzer Prize–winner N. Scott Momaday, the book contains powerful introductions from contributing editors who represent the five geographically organized sections. Each section begins with a poem from traditional oral literatures and closes with emerging poets, ranging from Eleazar, a seventeenth-century Native student at Harvard, to Jake Skeets, a young Diné poet born in 1991, and including renowned writers such as Luci Tapahanso, Natalie Diaz, Layli Long Soldier, and Ray Young Bear. When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through offers the extraordinary sweep of Native literature, without which no study of American poetry is complete.
"A spare, lyrical Native American coming of age story set in rural Oklahoma in the late 1980s. With his single mother in jail, Sequoyah, a fifteen-year-old Cherokee boy, is placed in foster care with the Troutt family. Literally and figuratively scarred by his unstable upbringing, Sequoyah has spent years mostly keeping to himself, living with his emotions pressed deep below the surface--that is, until he meets the seventeen-year-old Rosemary, another youth staying with the Troutts. Sequoyah and Rosemary bond over their shared Native American backgrounds and tumultuous paths through the foster care system, but as Sequoyah's feelings toward Rosemary deepen, the precariousness of their lives and the scars of their pasts threaten to undo them both"-- Provided by publisher.
A book about powerful Native American women, Shell Shaker by LeAnne Howe deals with the murder of two Choctaw chiefs, as well as decolonization and corruption, as told in two time periods, modern day and 200 years earlier. The first chief, Red Shoes, was killed by his own people, while in present day a Choctaw woman named Auda Billy is accused of murdering the second. How the two murders are connected, and how the spirit, Shell Shaker, plays a role is what motivates the reader through this urgent book. Howe is a brilliant stylist, and this novel shows it.
A powerful, poetic memoir about what it means to exist as an indigenous woman in America, told in snapshots of the author's encounters with gun violence.
"Essential . . . We need more voices like Toni Jensen's, more books like Carry."--Tommy Orange, New York Times bestselling author of There There
Toni Jensen grew up around guns: As a girl, she learned to shoot birds in rural Iowa with her father, a card-carrying member of the NRA. As an adult, she's had guns waved in her face near Standing Rock, and felt their silent threat on the concealed-carry campus where she teaches. And she has always known that in this 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.
Two lost sisters find family, and themselves, among the voices of an Ojibwe reservation.
When Loretta surrenders her young girls to the county and then disappears, she becomes one more missing Native woman in Indian Country's long devastating history of loss. But she is also a daughter of the Mozhay Point Reservation in northern Minnesota and the mother of Azure and Rain, ages 3 and 4, and her absence haunts all the lives she has touched—and all the stories they tell in this novel. In the Night of Memory returns to the fictional reservation of Linda LeGarde Grover's previous award-winning books, introducing readers to a new generation of the Gallette family as Azure and Rain make their way home.
Tayo, a young Native American, has been a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II, and the horrors of captivity have almost eroded his will to survive. His return to Laguna Pueblo reservation only increases his feeling of estrangement and alienation. While other returning soldiers find easy refuge in alcohol and senseless violence, Tayo searches for another kind of comfort and resolution.
Tayo's quest leads him back to the Indian past and its traditions, to beliefs about witchcraft and evil, and to the ancient stories of his people. The search itself becomes a ritual, a curative ceremony that defeats the most virulent of afflictions: despair.
"Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation 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 Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot's mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father-an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist-who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame. Mailhot trusts the reader to understand that memory isn't exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept. Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world."-- Provided by publisher.
A powerful and visually stunning anthology from some of the most groundbreaking Native artists working in North America today.
Truly universal in its themes, Dreaming In Indian will shatter commonly held stereotypes and challenge readers to rethink their own place in the world. Divided into four sections, 'Roots,' 'Battles,' 'Medicines,' and 'Dreamcatchers,' this book offers readers a unique insight into a community often misunderstood and misrepresented by the mainstream media.
Emerging and established Native artists, including acclaimed author Joseph Boyden, renowned visual artist Bunky Echo Hawk, and stand-up comedian Ryan McMahon, 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. Renowned chef Aaron Bear Robe, for example, explains how he introduces restaurant customers to his culture by reinventing traditional dishes. And in a dramatic photo spread, model Ashley Callingbull and photographer Thosh Collins reappropriate the trend of wearing 'Native' clothing.
Why is there no Native woman David Sedaris? Or Native Anne Lamott? Humor categories in publishing are packed with books by funny women and humorous sociocultural-political commentary--but no Native women. There are presumably more important concerns in Indian Country. More important than humor? Among the Diné/Navajo, a ceremony is held in honor of a baby's first laugh. While the context is different, it nonetheless reminds us that laughter is precious, even sacred.
Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese's is a powerful and compelling collection of Tiffany Midge's musings on life, politics, and identity as a Native woman in America. Artfully blending sly humor, social commentary, and meditations on love and loss, Midge weaves short, stand-alone musings into a memoir that stares down colonialism while chastising hipsters for abusing pumpkin spice. She explains why she does not like pussy hats, mercilessly dismantles pretendians, and confesses her own struggles with white-bread privilege.
A novel of a proud stranger in his native land. He was a young American Indian named Abel, and he lived in two worlds. One was that of his father, wedding him to the rhythm of the seasons, the harsh beauty of the land, the ecstasy of the drug called peyote. The other was the world of the twentieth century, goading him into a compulsive cycle of sexual exploits, dissipation, and disgust. Home from a foreign war, he was a man being torn apart, a man descending into hell.
Twelve Native Americans came to the Big Oakland Powwow for different reasons. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxedrene is pulling his life together after his uncle's death and has come to work the powwow and to honor his uncle's memory. Edwin Frank has come to find his true father. Bobby Big Medicine has come to drum the Grand Entry. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil Red Feather; Orvil has taught himself Indian dance through YouTube videos, and he has come to the powwow to dance in public for the very first time. Tony Loneman is a young Native American boy whose future seems destined to be as bleak as his past, and he has come to the Powwow with darker intentions--intentions that will destroy the lives of everyone in his path. Tommy Orange delivers a wondrous and shattering portrait of an America few of us have ever seen. A multi-generational, relentlessly paced story about violence and recovery, hope and loss, identity and power, dislocation and communion, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people.
The moving story of a Navajo high school basketball team, its members struggling with the everyday challenges of high school, adolescence, and family, and the great and unique obstacles facing Native Americans living on reservations.
Deep in the heart of northern Arizona, in a small and isolated patch of the vast 17.5-million-acre Navajo reservation, sits Chinle High School. Here, basketball is passion, passed from grandparent to parent to child. Rez Ball is a sport for winters where dark and cold descend fast and there is little else to do but roam mesa tops, work, and wonder what the future holds. The town has 4,500 residents and the high school arena seats 7,000. Fans drive thirty, fifty, even eighty miles to see the fast-paced and highly competitive matchups that are more than just games to players and fans.
A Choctaw tale of tragedy, white and Indians, good and evil, revenge and forgiveness, even humor and magic realism.
"The hour has come to speak of troubled times. It is time we spoke of Skullyville." Thus begins Rose Goode's story of her growing up in Indian Territory in pre-statehood Oklahoma. Skullyville, a once-thriving Choctaw community, was destroyed by land-grabbers, culminating in the arson on New Year's Eve, 1896, of New Hope Academy for Girls. Twenty Choctaw girls died, but Rose escaped. She is blessed by the presence of her grandmother Pokoni and her grandfather Amafo, both respected elders who understand the old ways. Soon after the fire, the white sheriff beats Amafo in front of the town's people, humiliating him. Instead of asking the Choctaw community to avenge the beating, her grandfather decides to follow the path of forgiveness. And so unwinds this tale of mystery, Indian-style magical realism, and deep wisdom. It's a world where backwoods spiritualism and Bible-thumping Christianity mix with bad guys; a one-legged woman shop-keeper, her oaf of a husband, herbal potions, and shape-shifting panthers rendering justice. Tim Tingle--a scholar of his nation's language, culture, and spirituality--tells Rose's story of good and evil with understanding and even laugh-out-loud Choctaw humor.
Named a "Best Novel of the Decade" by Literary Hub
Saul Indian Horse is a child when his family retreats into the woods. Among the lakes and the cedars, they attempt to reconnect with half-forgotten traditions and hide from the authorities who have been kidnapping Ojibway youth. But when winter approaches, Saul loses everything: his brother, his parents, his beloved grandmother--and then his home itself.
Alone in the world and placed in a horrific boarding school, Saul is surrounded by violence and cruelty. At the urging of a priest, he finds a tentative salvation in hockey. Rising at dawn to practice alone, Saul proves determined and undeniably gifted. His intuition and vision are unmatched. His speed is remarkable. Together they open doors for him: away from the school, into an all-Ojibway amateur circuit, and finally within grasp of a professional career. Yet as Saul's victories mount, so do the indignities and the taunts, the racism and the hatred--the harshness of a world that will never welcome him, tied inexorably to the sport he loves.
Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, and as a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings--asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass--offer us gifts and lessons, even if we've forgotten how to hear their voices. In reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.
A memoir that examines rural poverty and the lingering strains of racism in the south. Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. But why? As she began to write about living through all the dying, Jesmyn realized the truth -- and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle.
“I was as distant from myself as a hawk from the moon,” the young, unnamed narrator tells us. Welch’s deeply moving novel deals with a young man’s struggle with loneliness, alienation, and identity as he tries to make sense of death and the world around him. Welch’s spare novel is quiet but forceful in its urgency and pacing. I haven’t seen the film, but the novel is gritty, dark, essential reading.
"You're gonna need a rock and a whole lotta medicine" is a mantra that Jonny Appleseed, a young Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer, repeats to himself in this vivid and utterly compelling novel. Off the reserve and trying to find ways to live and love in the big city, Jonny becomes a cybersex worker who fetishizes himself in order to make a living. Self-ordained as an NDN glitter princess, Jonny has one week before he must return to the "rez," and his former life, to attend the funeral of his stepfather. The next seven days are like a fevered dream: stories of love, trauma, sex, kinship, ambition, and the heartbreaking recollection of his beloved kokum (grandmother). Jonny's world is a series of breakages, appendages, and linkages--and as he goes through the motions of preparing to return home, he learns how to put together the pieces of his life. Jonny Appleseed is a unique, shattering vision of Indigenous life, full of grit, glitter, and dreams.