November is Native American Heritage Month, a month-long celebration to pay tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans. It is vital to recognize Indigenous voices all year round, but this critical time of the year to acknowledge the actual historical accounts and legacy of Native Americans and not rely on fantasy and stereotypes.
The good thing is that with the increased need for diverse books, we have seen an increase of books written by minority authors and what better way to learn about a cultural heritage than written by an author of that said culture? So in honor of this month, I am highlighting newly released books by indigenous authors that will not only entertain you but give you more insight and enlightenment in your everyday reading life:
Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend by Dawn Quigley and illustrated by Tara Audibert
Jo Jo Makoons Azure is a spirited seven-year-old who moves through the world a little differently than anyone else on her Ojibwe reservation. It always seems like her mom, her kokum (grandma), and her teacher have a lot to learn—about how good Jo Jo is at cleaning up, what makes a good rhyme, and what it means to be friendly.
Even though Jo Jo loves her #1 best friend Mimi (who is a cat), she’s worried that she needs to figure out how to make more friends. Because Fern, her best friend at school, may not want to be friends anymore…(Credit: Heartdrum)
Sugar Falls: A Residential School Story by David A. Robertson and illustrated by Scott B. Henderson
Abandoned as a young child, Betsy is adopted into a loving family. A few short years later, at the age of 8, everything changes. Betsy is taken away to a residential school. There she is forced to endure abuse and indignity, but Betsy recalls the words her father spoke to her at Sugar Falls–words that give her the resilience, strength, and determination to survive.
Sugar Falls is based on the true story of Betty Ross, Elder from Cross Lake First Nation. We wish to acknowledge, with the utmost gratitude, Betty’s generosity in sharing her story. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Sugar Falls goes to support the bursary program for The Helen Betty Osborne Memorial Foundation. (Credit: Highwater Press)
The Case of the Burgled Bundle by Michael Hutchinson
The National Assembly of Cree Peoples has gathered together in the Windy Lake First Nation, home to the Mighty Muskrats–cousins Chickadee, Atim, Otter, and Sam. But when the treaty bundle, the center of a four-day-long ceremony, is taken, the four mystery-solving cousins set out to catch those responsible and help protect Windy Lake’s reputation!
What’s worse, prime suspect Pearl takes off to the city with her older brother and known troublemaker, Eddie. If they have the burgled bundle with them, the Mighty Muskrats fear it may be lost for good. With clues pointing in too many different directions, the cousins need to find and return the missing bundle before the assembly comes to an end. The history and knowledge passed down to each generation through the bundle is at stake. (Credit: Second Story Press)
A Perfect Likeness: Two Novellas by Richard Wagamese
The volume brings together two previously published novellas by Richard Wagamese, Him Standing and The Next Sure Thing, with a foreword from author Waubgeshig Rice. Both stories follow the lives of young men who have dreams for a better future. In their search for fame and fortune, Cree Thunderboy and Lucas Smoke end up on paths where their biggest challenge is staying true to themselves.
In Him Standing, Lucas Smoke learns the art of carving from his grandfather. He discovers that he is a natural; he can literally make people come to life in wood. But when Lucas is asked to carve a spirit mask by a mysterious stranger, he quickly learns that his skill with a knife could cost him his dreams.
In The Next Sure Thing, Cree Thunderboy has two things he does well: playing blues guitar and picking winning horses at the track. Picking winners is just meant to be a means to an end–Cree’s goal is to make his living playing the blues. He meets a powerful man at the racetrack who convinces him he can parlay his special skill with the horses into a shot at the fame and fortune he seeks. (Credit: Orca Book Publishers)
A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger
Expected Publication Date: November 23
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. He’s found a new one on the banks of the bottomless lake.
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. (Credit: Levine Querido)
Borders by Thomas King and illustrated by Natasha Donovan
Borders is a masterfully told story of a boy and his mother whose road trip is thwarted at the border when they identify their citizenship as Blackfoot. Refusing to identify as either American or Canadian first bars their entry into the US, and then their return into Canada. In the limbo between countries, they find power in their connection to their identity and to each other.
Borders explores nationhood from an Indigenous perspective and resonates deeply with themes of identity, justice, and belonging. (Credit: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Notable Native People: 50 Indigenous Leaders, Dreamers, and Changemakers from Past and Present by Adrienne Keene and illustrated by Ciara Sana
Celebrate the lives, stories, and contributions of Indigenous artists, activists, scientists, athletes, and other changemakers in this beautifully illustrated collection. From luminaries of the past, like nineteenth-century sculptor Edmonia Lewis–the first Black and Native American female artist to achieve international fame–to contemporary figures like linguist jessie little doe baird, who revived the Wampanoag language, Notable Native People highlights the vital impact Indigenous dreamers and leaders have made on the world. This powerful and informative collection also offers accessible primers on important Indigenous issues, from the legacy of colonialism and cultural appropriation to food sovereignty, land and water rights, and more. An indispensable read for people of all backgrounds seeking to learn about Native American heritage, histories, and cultures, Notable Native People will educate and inspire readers of all ages. (Credit: Ten Speed Press)
My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
Jade Daniels is an angry, half-Indian outcast with an abusive father, an absent mother, and an entire town that wants nothing to do with her. She lives in her own world, a world in which protection comes from an unusual source: horror movies…especially the ones where a masked killer seeks revenge on a world that wronged them. And Jade narrates the quirky history of Proofrock as if it is one of those movies. But when blood actually starts to spill into the waters of Indian Lake, she pulls us into her dizzying, encyclopedic mind of blood and masked murderers, and predicts exactly how the plot will unfold.
Yet, even as Jade drags us into her dark fever dream, a surprising and intimate portrait emerges…a portrait of the scared and traumatized little girl beneath the Jason Voorhees mask: angry, yes, but also a girl who easily cries, fiercely loves, and desperately wants a home. A girl whose feelings are too big for her body. My Heart Is a Chainsaw is her story, her homage to horror and revenge and triumph. (Credit: Gallery / Saga Press)
Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians But Were Afraid to Ask: Young Readers Edition by Anton Treuer
From the acclaimed Ojibwe author and professor Anton Treuer comes an essential book of questions and answers for Native and non-Native young readers alike. Ranging from Why is there such a fuss about nonnative people wearing Indian costumes for Halloween? to Why is it called a ‘traditional Indian fry bread taco’? to What’s it like for natives who don’t look native? to Why are Indians so often imagined rather than understood?, and beyond, Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask (Young Readers Edition) does exactly what its title says for young readers, in a style consistently thoughtful, personal, and engaging.
Updated and expanded to include:- Dozens of New Questions and New Sections–including a social activism section that explores the Dakota Access Pipeline, racism, identity, politics, and more!
– Over 50 new Photos
– Adapted text for broad appeal (Credit: Levine Querido)
White Magic by Elissa Washuta
Throughout her life, Elissa Washuta has been surrounded by cheap facsimiles of Native spiritual tools and occult trends, “starter witch kits” of sage, rose quartz, and tarot cards packaged together in paper and plastic. Following a decade of abuse, addiction, PTSD, and heavy-duty drug treatment for a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder, she felt drawn to the real spirits and powers her dispossessed and discarded ancestors knew, while she undertook necessary work to find love and meaning.
In this collection of intertwined essays, she writes about land, heartbreak, and colonization, about life without the escape hatch of intoxication, and about how she became a powerful witch. She interlaces stories from her forebears with cultural artifacts from her own life–Twin Peaks, the Oregon Trail II video game, a Claymation Satan, a YouTube video of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham–to explore questions of cultural inheritance and the particular danger, as a Native woman, of relaxing into romantic love under colonial rule. (Credit: Tin House Books)
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