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By Jessica B.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a celebration of Native American peoples and their contributions in American culture. This holiday is an important reminder that we recognize and celebrate Indigenous people as the first inhabitants of the United States.

To honor this day, we would like to share a list of titles as an introduction to a rich and diverse heritage within our country. This is list is only a starting point of the many voices that remind us of the beginning of America and the experiences, struggles, and triumphs that continue to this day. Please visit any of our locations for additional recommendations regarding these remarkable stories to both entertain and educate.

 

Young Readers

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Ages 8-12

Edited by award-winning and bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith, this collection of intersecting stories by both new and veteran Native writers bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride.

Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock by Dallas Hunt

Ages 4-8

As young Awâsis searches for the ingredients to make Kohkum’s world-famous bannock recipe, they run into a variety of other-than-human relatives that help them along in their journey. Includes a pronunciation guide and Kohkum’s world-famous bannock recipe at the back of the book. — Provided by publisher.

Bowwow Powwow: Bagosenjige-Niimi’idim by Brenda J. Child

Ages 3-7

When Uncle and Windy Girl attend a powwow, Windy watches the dancers and listens to the singers. She eats tasty food and joins family and friends around the campfire. Later, Windy falls asleep under the stars. Uncle’s stories inspire visions in her head: a bowwow powwow, where all the dancers are dogs. In these magical scenes, Windy sees veterans in a Grand Entry, and a visiting drum group, and traditional dancers, grass dancers, and jingle-dress dancers–all with telltale ears and paws and tails. All celebrating in song and dance. All attesting to the wonder of the powwow.–Provided by publisher.

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard

Ages 3-6

Using illustrations that show the diversity in Native America and spare poetic text that emphasizes fry bread in terms of provenance, this volume tells the story of a post-colonial food that is a shared tradition for Native American families all across the North American continent. Includes a recipe and an extensive author note that delves into the social ways, foodways, and politics of America’s 573 recognized tribes.

My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith; illustrations by Julie Flett

Ages 4-7

The sun on your face. The smell of warm bannock baking in the oven. Holding the hand of someone you love. What fills your heart with happiness? This beautiful board book, with illustrations from celebrated artist Julie Flett, serves as a reminder for the little ones and adults to reflect on and cherish the moments in life that bring us joy.

International speaker and award-winning author Monique Gray Smith wrote My Heart Fills with Happiness to support the wellness of indigenous children and families, and to encourage young children to reflect on what makes them happy.

The Water Walker by Joanne Robertson

Ages 6-9

This is the story of a determined Ojibwe Grandmother (Nokomis) Josephine Mandamin and her great love for Nibi (Water). Nokomis walks to raise awareness of our need to protect Nibi for future generations, and for all life on the planet. She, along with other women, men, and youth, have walked around all of the Great Lakes from the four salt waters – or oceans – all the way to Lake Superior. The water walks are full of challenges, and by her example, Josephine inspires and challenges us all to take up our responsibility to protect our water and our planet for all generations. Her story is a wonderful way to talk with children about the efforts that the Ojibwe and many other Indigenous peoples give to the protection of water – the giver of life.– Provided by publisher.

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell

Ages 3-7

Otsaliheliga is a Cherokee word that is used to express gratitude. Journey through the year with a Cherokee family and their tribal nation as they express thanks for celebrations big and small. A look at modern Native American life as told by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

Ages 3-6

Water is the first medicine. It affects and connects us all… When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth and poison her people’s water, one young water protector takes a stand to defend Earth’s most sacred resource. Inspired by the many indigenous-led movements across North America, this bold and lyrical picture book issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth’s water from harm and corruption.

* Winner of the 2021 Caldecott Medal

Chapter Books

Apple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley (Contemporary Voices of Indigenous Peoples Series; Book 1)

Grades 7-9

Apple Starkington turned her back on her Native American heritage the moment she was called a racial slur for someone of white and Indian descent, not that she really even knew how to be an Indian in the first place. Too bad the white world doesn’t accept her either. And so begins her quirky habits to gain acceptance. Apple’s name, chosen by her Indian mother on her deathbed, has a double meaning: treasured apple of my eye, but also the negative connotation, a person who is red, or Indian, on the outside, but white on the inside. After her wealthy father gives her the boot one summer, Apple reluctantly agrees to visit her Native American relatives on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in northern North Dakota for the first time. Apple learns to deal with the culture shock of Indian customs and the Native Michif language, while she tries to find a connection to her dead mother. She also has to deal with a vengeful Indian man who loved her mother in high school but now hates Apple because her mom married a white man. Bouncing in the middle of two cultures, Apple meets her Indian relatives, shatters Indian stereotypes, and learns what it means to find her place in a world divided by color.

Healer of the Water Monster by Brian Young

Ages 9-12

When Nathan goes to visit his grandma, Nali, at her mobile summer home on the Navajo reservation, he knows he’s in for a pretty uneventful summer, with no electricity or cell service. Still, he loves spending time with Nali and with his uncle Jet, though it’s clear when Jet arrives that he brings his problems with him. One night, while lost in the nearby desert, Nathan finds someone extraordinary: a Holy Being from the Navajo Creation Story–a Water Monster–in need of help. Now Nathan must summon all his courage to save his new friend. With the help of other Navajo Holy Beings, Nathan is determined to save the Water Monster, and to support Uncle Jet in healing from his own pain. — Amazon.com

How I Became a Ghost: a Choctaw Trail of Tears Story by Tim Tingle

Grades 4-6

A Choctaw boy tells the story of his tribe’s removal from the only land its people had ever known, and how their journey to Oklahoma led him to become a ghost–one with the ability to help those he left behind.

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall

Grades 4-8

Teased for his fair coloring, eleven-year-old Jimmy McClean travels with his maternal grandfather, Nyles High Eagle, to learn about his Lakota heritage while visiting places significant in the life of Crazy Horse, the nineteenth-century Lakota leader and warrior, in a tale that weaves the past with the present. Includes historical note and glossary.

Indian No More by Charlene Willing

Grades 4-7

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.

Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Ages 9-12

Together with Grampa, Ray Halfmoon, a Seminole-Cherokee boy, finds creative and amusing solutions to life’s challenges.

Surviving the City by Tasha Spillett (Graphic Novel)

Grades 7-12

Tasha Spillet’s graphic-novel debut, Surviving the City, is a story about womanhood, friendship, resilience, and the anguish of a missing loved one. Miikwan and Dez are best friends. Miikwan’s Anishinaabe; Dez is Inninew. Together, the teens navigate the challenges of growing up in an urban landscape – they’re so close, they even completed their Berry Fast together. However, when Dez’s grandmother becomes too sick, Dez is told she can’t stay with her anymore. With the threat of a group home looming, Dez can’t bring herself to go home and disappears. Miikwan is devastated, and the wound of her missing mother resurfaces. Will Dez’s community find her before it’s too late? Will Miikwan be able to cope if they don’t? Colonialism and the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People are explored in Natasha Donovan’s beautiful illustrations.– Provided by publisher.

 

All descriptions from NoveList unless otherwise noted.

 

Jessica B.

Jessica B.


With 8 locations throughout Vanderburgh County, EVPL is ready to discover, explore, and connect WITH you! We encourage you to uncover new things, revisit old favorites, and to engage with us along the way.

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