November is Native American Heritage Month, which started at the turn of the century as “an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S.” and in 1990, evolved into a month of celebration and appreciation.
For many years, Native people have been silenced, their stories set aside, hidden, or drowned out. That’s why it’s especially important to read stories about Native characters, told in Native voices. Celebrate Native American Heritage Month with this updated list of books by Native authors:
Indian No More
By Charlene Willing McManis and Traci Sorell
When Regina’s Umpqua tribe is legally terminated and her family must relocate from Oregon to Los Angeles, she goes on a quest to understand her identity as an Indian despite being so far from home.
Jim Thorpe’s Bright Path
By Joseph Bruchac, illus. by S.D. Nelson
A biography of the legendary Native American Jim Thorpe, voted the Greatest Football Player and Greatest Athlete of the Half-Century.
The People Shall Continue
By Simon J. Ortiz, illus. by Sharol Graves
Told in the rhythms of traditional oral narrative, this powerful telling of the history of the Native/Indigenous peoples of North America recounts their story from Creation to the invasion and usurpation of Native lands.
Stone River Crossing
By Tim Tingle
When Martha Tom helps Lil Mo and his family escape from the plantation across the river, it’s just the beginning of a Choctaw adventure of a lifetime.
Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message
By Chief Jake Swamp, illus. by Erwin Printup
A traditional Iroquois celebration of the beauty and spirit of Mother Earth, as told by a contemporary Mohawk chief.
The Woman Who Outshone the Sun/La mujer que brillaba aún más que el sol
By Alejandro Martinez, illus. by Fernando Olivera
The legend of Lucia Zenteno is part of the oral history of the Zapotec Indians of Oaxaca, Mexico—a region of Mexico renowned for its rich cultural history with roots that go back many centuries before Columbus. The author gave up his life in his struggle to help win back the water rights of the Zapotec people.
Bears Make Rock Soup
By Lise Erdrich, illus. by Lisa Fifield
In this collection of paintings and stories, author and illustrator honor their Native American tradition in their own unique ways. Together they pay homage to the people, animals, forests, and rivers that have lived in harmony beneath the wide skies of the Plains.
Rattlesnake Mesa: Stories from a Native American Childhood
By EdNah New Rider Weber, photographed by Richela Renkun
After her beloved Grandmother dies, EdNah, a seven-year-old Pawnee girl, goes to live with a father she hardly knows on a Navajo reservation miles away. Just as EdNah starts to feel at home in her new surroundings, she is sent away to a strict government-run Indian school. With her world turned upside down once again, EdNah must learn to rely on herself and her newfound community of friends.
Home to Medicine Mountain
By Chiori Santiago, illus. by Judith Lowry
Two young brothers are separated from their family and sent to live in a government-run Indian residential school in the 1930s. Native American artist Judith Lowry based this story on the experiences of her father and her Uncle Stanley.
Killer of Enemies
By Joseph Bruchac
As the legendary Killer of Enemies was in the ancient days of the Apache people, Lozen is meant to be a more than a hunter. Lozen is meant to be a hero.
By Connie Ann Kirk, illus. by Christy Hale
John Cloud’s father is a steelworker building skyscrapers in New York City, far away from their home upstate on the Mohawk Reservation. Set in the early 1930s and based on the history of Mohawk steelworkers, this is a warm celebration of family, courage, and the forces of nature.
By Kristy Orona-Ramirez, illus. by Jonathan Warm Day
Kiki is a city girl who calls Los Angeles home. But home is also a place filled with expressions of her family’s Tiwa Indian heritage. Her parents left the Taos Pueblo reservation long ago, and Kiki hasn’t been back since she was a baby. She hardly even remembers what the Pueblo is like, until she returns with her parents during spring break.
Let us know what other books you love by Native authors in the comments below!
Further reading for Native American Heritage Month
- The Miseducation of Native American Students
- Filling in More of the Story: Modern Day Narratives of Native Americans
- Is the Term Indian Summer Racist?