Plano Reads: Native American Heritage Month
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Plano Reads: Native American Heritage Month

In November, Native American Heritage Month, we recognize exceptional books for adults and teens written by Native American/First American/Indigenous writers. We hope you’ll enjoy their works and learn from their distinctive voices.

Nonfiction

An American Sunrise: Poems by Joy Harjo – A volume from the first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States, informed by the history of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and her family’s connection to the land. In An American Sunrise, Harjo finds blessings in the abundance of her homeland and reflects on love, grief, justice and healing, through the power of her poetry. Print |CD Book 

The Apache Wars by Paul Andrew Hutton – In this sprawling, monumental work, Paul Hutton unfolds over two decades the last war for the West seen through the eyes of the men and women who lived it: great Apache leaders, soldiers, scouts and frontiersmen, and great Apache warriors, both men and women. These lives shaped the violent history of the deserts and mountains of the Southwestern borderlands—a bleak and unforgiving world where a people would make a final, bloody stand against their destruction. Print |eBook 

Apple: (Skin to the Core): A Memoir in Words and Pictures by Eric Gansworth – Eric Gansworth tells his story for teen readers in Apple (Skin to the Core), a poetic memoir of his family, of Onondaga among Tuscaroras, of Native folks everywhere. From the horrible legacy of government boarding schools, to a boy watching his siblings leave and return and leave again, to a young man fighting to be an artist who balances multiple worlds. Eric and reclaims the cruel word “apple,” and reclaims it in heartbreaking verse and prose and imagery. Print |eBook |Audiobook 

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Treuer – Anthropologist and Ojibwe Nation member David Treuer uncovers a new narrative in Native American history, a story of unprecedented resourcefulness and reinvention in the face of an intense struggle to survive as a people. This classic title is the essential, intimate story of resilient First Americans as they endured the complex changes of the transformative twentieth-century. Print | Large Print |eBook |Audiobook

#NotYourPrincess : Voices of Native American Women, edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale – Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous women across North America resound in this book. #Not Your Princess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Print |eBook 

Why We Serve: Native Americans in the United States Armed Forces by Alexandra Harris and Mark Hirsch – Why We Serve chronicles the generations of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians who have served in the United States Armed Forces during every military conflict since our country’s founding. Published in conjunction with the dedication of the National Native American Veterans Memorial at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC, this groundbreaking history honors the diversity of Indigenous people and the complexity of their military experiences. Print


Graphic Novels

If I Go Missing by Brianna Jonnie – A powerfully illustrated graphic novel about the subject of missing and murdered Indigenous people. Combining graphic fiction and non-fiction, this young-adult graphic novel serves as a window into one of the unique dangers of being an Indigenous teen in Canada today. The text of the book is derived from excerpts of a letter written to the Winnipeg Chief of Police by fourteen-year-old Brianna Jonnie. Indigenous artist Neal Shannacappo provides the artwork for the book, in which he imagines that a young Indigenous woman does disappear, portraying the reaction of her community, her friends, the police and media. Print 

This Place: 150 Years Retold: An Anthology – Multiple indigenous writers and artists contributed to this adult graphic novel anthology focusing on Indigenous history in modern-day Canada. Some of the stories in the collection are based on real historical people and events. For example, stories touch on subjects such as legal land battles between Indigenous groups and the Canadian government, mandatory residential schools that separated Native children from their families, and the fight over the legitimacy of tribal sovereignty. Print 


Fiction

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of a Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live. Print |eBook |Audiobook |CD/Play 

A Calm and Normal Heart: Stories by Chelsea T. Hicks – Osage author Chelsea T. Hicks presents this story collection of Native women living with the impacts of colonization and its effect on their family histories. No two characters in these stories are truly alike, but they are all impacted by their heritage and culture as they grapple with things like heartache and strained family relationships, and as they learn to choose and fight for themselves. The characters in these stories are vulnerable, yet they allow us to follow in their journeys. Hicks incorporates some Wazhazhe ie (Osage language) into her stories, in an effort towards inclusion and preservation of the language. Print 

Night of the Living Rez: Stories by Morgan Talty – “An astounding new narrative voice arrives in this debut collection of twelve linked stories, all set in the Penobscot Nation of Maine. Morgan Talty’s accomplished stories turn an unflinching eye on the hardships of life in this community while also capturing the scrappy growing pains of adolescence.”  Just nominated for ALA’s Carnegie Medal for Fiction, this is impressive fiction from a writer to watch! Print |eBook

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich – Based on the extraordinary life and personal letters of the author’s grandfather, who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against federal termination of the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa/Ojibwa from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, D. C., The Night Watchman takes readers back to 1953-1954 to show that era, and the events and people of Turtle Mountain, in compassionate and loving detail. Winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Print | Large Print | eBook | eAudiobook

The Removed by Brandon Hobson – In the fifteen years since their teenage son, Ray-Ray, was killed in a police shooting, the Echota family has been suspended in private grief. With the family’s annual bonfire approaching—an occasion marking both the Cherokee National Holiday and Ray-Ray’s death, and a rare moment in which they openly talk about his memory—Maria attempts to call the family together from their physical and emotional distances once more. But as the bonfire draws near, each of them feels a strange blurring of the boundary between normal life and the spirit world. Print |eBook |Audiobook 

The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson – As this much-praised novel begins, Rosalie Iron Wing returns to her childhood home among Minnesota’s Dakhota people. A widow and mother, she has spent the previous two decades on her husband’s farm, finding solace in her garden even as the farm is threatened. Now, grieving, Rosalie confronts her past, on a search for family, identity, and a community where she can finally belong. In the process, she learns what it means to be descended from women with souls of iron… Print| eBook

A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger – Nina is a Lipan girl in our world. She’s always felt there was something more out there. She still believes in the old stories. Oli is a cottonmouth kid, from the land of spirits and monsters. Like all cottonmouths, he’s been cast from home. Nina and Oli have no idea the other exists. But a catastrophic event on Earth, and a strange sickness that befalls Oli’s best friend, will drive their worlds together in ways they haven’t been in centuries. And there are some who will kill to keep them apart. Print |eBook |Audiobook 

Shutter by Ramona Emerson – Rita Todacheene is a forensic photographer working for the Albuquerque police force. She is almost supernaturally good at capturing details. In fact, Rita has been hiding a secret: she sees the ghosts of crime victims who point her toward the clues that other investigators overlook. Her taboo and psychologically harrowing ability was what drove her away from the Navajo reservation, where she was raised by her grandmother. It has isolated her from friends and gotten her in trouble with the law. And now it might be what gets her killed. Print |eBook

There There by Tommy Orange – Twelve Native Americans are traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow.  Along the way they tell their stories of transitioning from reservation life to urban life.  They want to forge new lives without losing ties to their past.  A journey into an unknown future that you will not forget. Print |eBook |Audiobook |

When Two Feathers Fell From the Sky by Margaret Verble – “A deliciously strange and daringly original novel from Pulitzer Prize finalist Margaret Verble: set in 1926 Nashville, it follows Two Feathers, a death-defying young Cherokee horse-diver from a Wild West show who, with her companions from the Glendale Park Zoo, must get to the bottom of a mystery that spans centuries.” Unforgettable and irresistible! Print

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