10 Essential Native American NovelsNovember is Native American Heritage Month, a celebration meant to give recognition to the significant contribution the native peoples have made to the history, culture, and growth of the United States. One way to get into the spirit of things is by reading works by some of the greatest Native American authors from the past century. Some of their works will shed light on activism, culture, and history, some expose the challenges of living on reservations or establishing an identity in the modern world, and all are beautiful, well-written pieces of poetry, prose, and non-fiction that are excellent reads, regardless of the heritage of their authors. This list touches on just a few of the amazing Native American authors out there and can be a great starting point for those wanting to learn more throughout this month and the rest of the year. Sherman Alexie is one of the best known Native American writers today.
Books I Read For Native American Lit & British Novel
Decolonize Your Bookshelf With These Books by Native American Writers
Brandon Hobson's remarkable, moving novel, Where the Dead Sit Talking , follows year-old Sequoyah as he becomes the foster child of Harold and Agnes Troutt, a middle-aged couple already fostering year-old George and year-old Rosemary. While these writers are important to me as a reader, a writer, and as a Cherokee, I should add that there are also many short story collections, books of poetry, and memoirs that represent an active campaign for the traditions and values of Native American culture. And while this list contains such well-established writers as Momaday and Erdrich, there are newer, younger Native American writers out there right now creating amazing works of art—people like Layli Long Soldier, Terese Mailhot, and Tommy Orange, whose names and works will become are already becoming a powerful and constructive force in Native American literature. Momaday's House Made of Dawn won the Pulitzer Prize in , which alone should tell you how great it is. It's the story of a World War II veteran named Abel who returns home to try and adjust to living back in the world he once lived in, but he struggles, gets drunk a lot and fights and then commits a murder that lands him in jail for a while. Once he gets out of jail his struggles only continue. While all that may sound dark, this is ultimately a novel of hope as Abel learns to embrace his Native American heritage.
Many are more recent publications as the Native literary Times Best Seller and was named one of the best non-fiction books of by TIME.
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Since Thanksgiving is a time when the collective American imagination envisions a peaceful meal shared between colonizer and colonized, where both appear to share a mutual understanding and benefit, why not make this fantasy a reality by exercising some empathy-for-the- other muscles and read literary works written from their perspective? My list has no blood quantum standards and is complete with rez and urban, past and present, perspectives alike, which I feel is the best way to represent the beautifully tangled complex mass that is modern day Native peoples. The struggles and perspectives mapped throughout these works are some I believe to be most relevant for a well tuned socio-political perspective. 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 s. 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.
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Columbus Day was Monday, in case you were wondering why the bank and post-office were randomly closed. Why do we celebrate Columbus Day? Good question. When Columbus and other European adventurers first set foot in the Americas, they found not an empty wilderness as some of us were taught in school , but a land inhabited by millions of people with diverse cultures and traditions. Over the past few decades, scholars of Native American history and writing have given us wonderful resources with which to understand how indigenous people interacted with one another and with the Europeans whom they encountered all those centuries ago. However, they each provided a fascinating perspective on native peoples and the violence and broken promises that characterized European expansion. Check these books out, and tell us about others in the comments.