Honoring Indigenous Peoples’: Reads

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday that celebrates and honors Native American peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures. It is celebrated across the United States on the second Monday in October, and is an official city and state holiday in various localities.

To honor the celebration this year on October 11, here are some books available with your Livingston Library card that might serve as an introduction to a rich and diverse heritage of fiction, nonfiction, history, poetry, memoir, and more by and about Indigenous peoples in the United States. 

Blood And Treasure : Daniel Boone And The Fight For America’s First Frontier by Bob Drury

The explosive true saga of the legendary figure, Daniel Boone, and the bloody struggle for America’s frontier. This fast-paced and fiery narrative, fueled by contemporary diaries and journals, newspaper reports, and eyewitness accounts, is a stirring chronicle of the conflict over America’s “First Frontier.”

Cheyenne Summer : The Battle Of Beecher Island : A History by Terry Mort

Evoking the spirit and danger of the early American West, this is the story of the Battle of Beecher Island, pitting an outnumbered United States Army patrol against six hundred Native warriors, where heroism on both sides of the conflict captures the vital themes at play on the American frontier.

Covered With Night : A Story Of Murder And Indigenous Justice In Early America by Nicole Eustace

In the summer of 1722, on the eve of a conference between the Five Nations of the Iroquois and British-American colonists, two colonial fur traders brutally attacked an Indigenous hunter in colonial Pennsylvania. Frantic efforts to resolve the case created a contest between Native American forms of justice, centered on community, forgiveness, and reparations, and an ideology of harsh reprisal, based on British law, that called for the killers’ execution. In a stunning narrative history based on painstaking original research, acclaimed historian Nicole Eustace reconstructs the crime and its aftermath, taking us into the worlds of Euro-Americans and Indigenous peoples in this formative period. 

Crazy Horse and Custer:The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors by Stephen E. Ambrose

On the sparkling morning of June 25, 1876, 611 men of the United States 7th Cavalry rode toward the banks of Little Bighorn in the Montana Territory, where three thousand Indians stood waiting for battle. The lives of two great warriors would soon be forever linked throughout history: Crazy Horse, leader of the Oglala Sioux, and General George Armstrong Custer. Both were men of aggression and supreme courage. Both became leaders in their societies at very early ages. Both were stripped of power, in disgrace, and worked to earn back the respect of their people. And to both of them, the unspoiled grandeur of the Great Plains of North America was an irresistible challenge. 

The Heartbeat Of Wounded Knee : Native America From 1890 To The Present by David Treuer

Beginning with the tribes’ devastating loss of land and the forced assimilation of their children at government-run boarding schools, Treuer shows how the period of greatest adversity also helped to incubate a unifying Native identity.  He traces how conscription in the US military and the pull of urban life brought Indians into the mainstream and modern times, even as it steered the emerging shape of their self-rule and spawned a new generation of resistance.

Iwígara : American Indian Ethnobotanical Traditions And Science by Enrique Salmón

Salmón reveals the deep relationship between people and plants by exploring 80 plants of importance to American Indians. The belief that all life-forms are interconnected and share the same breath–known in the Rarámuri tribe as iwígara–has resulted in a treasury of knowledge about the natural world, passed down for millennia by native cultures.  Salmón teaches us the ways plants are used as food and medicine, the details of their identification and harvest, their important health benefits, plus their role in traditional stories and myths.

Killing Crazy Horse : The Merciless Indian Wars In America by Bill O’Reilly

A venture through the fraught history of our country’s founding on already occupied lands, from General Andrew Jackson’s brutal battles with the Creek Nation to President James Monroe’s epic “sea to shining sea” policy, to President Martin Van Buren’s cruel enforcement of a “treaty” that forced the Cherokee Nation out of their homelands along what would be called the Trail of Tears.

Living Nations, Living Words : An Anthology Of First Peoples Poetry by Joy Harjo

Harjo, the first Native poet to serve as U.S. Poet Laureate, has championed the voices of Native peoples past and present. Her signature laureate project gathers the work of contemporary Native poets into a national, fully digital map of story, sound, and space, celebrating their vital and unequivocal contributions to American poetry.

The Night Watchman : A Novel by Louise Erdrich

 Drawing on her grandfather’s letters, written while he was tribal chairman, Edrich re-creates a shameful chapter in America’s history when Congress introduced a bill to terminate the treaty rights of Native tribes, which would force assimilation and pave the way for a land grab. Members of the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa, led by the fictional Thomas Wazhushk, a night watchman at the local jewel-bearing plant, travel to Washington to protest. With him is his sharply observant niece Patrice Paranteau, who supports her family on wages from the plant yet yearns for an education and a future unfettered by men and babies. In Erdrich’s hands, daily life on the reservation comes alive, the crushing poverty and lack of opportunity tempered by family cohesion and the wisdom of the elders

The Only Good Indians : A Novel by Stephen Graham Jones

Four American Indian men from the Blackfeet Nation, who were childhood friends, find themselves in a desperate struggle for their lives, against an entity that wants to exact revenge upon them for what they did during an elk hunt ten years earlier by killing them, their families, and friends.

Redbone : The True Story Of A Native American Rock Band by Christian Staebler

Brothers Pat and Lolly Vegas were talented Native American rock musicians that took the 1960s Sunset Strip by storm. They influenced The Doors and jammed with Jimmy Hendrix before he was “Jimi,” and the idea of a band made up of all Native Americans soon followed. Determined to control their creative vision and maintain their cultural identity, they eventually signed a deal with Epic Records in 1969. But as the American Indian Movement gained momentum the band took a stand, choosing pride in their ancestry over continued commercial reward.

Spirit Run : A 6,000-mile Marathon Through North America’s Stolen Land by Noé Álvarez

Álvarez’s account of the four months he spends trekking from Canada to Guatemala alongside Native Americans representing nine tribes, all of whom are seeking brighter futures through running, self-exploration, and renewed relationships with the land they’ve traversed.

Surviving Genocide : Native Nations And The United States From The American Revolution To Bleeding Kansas by Jeffrey Ostler

In the first part of this sweeping two-volume history, Ostler investigates how American democracy relied on Indian dispossession and the federally sanctioned use of force to remove or slaughter Indians in the way of U.S. expansion. This well-researched book deepens our understanding of the seizure of indigenous lands, including the use of treaties to create the appearance of Native consent to dispossession. Ostler also carefully documents the resilience of Native people, showing how they survived genocide by creating alliances, defending their towns, and rebuilding their communities.

The Taking Of Jemima Boone : Colonial Settlers, Tribal Nations, And The Kidnap That Shaped America by Matthew Pearl

Explores the little-known true story of the kidnapping of thirteen-year-old Jemima Boone, Daniel Boone’s daughter, by a Cherokee-Shawnee raiding party and the ensuing battle with reverberations that nobody could predict.

Tecumseh And The Prophet : The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied A Nation by Peter Cozzens

The riveting story of the Shawnee brothers who led the last great pan-Indian confederacy against the United States.

There There : A Novel by Tommy Orange

Orange’s debut novel offers a kaleidoscopic look at Native American life in Oakland, California, through the experiences and perspectives of 12 characters. It reveals that, like all people, Native Americans don’t share a single identity; theirs is a multifaceted landscape, made more so by the sins, the weight, of history. 

This Land Is Their Land : the Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, And The Troubled History Of Thanksgiving by David J. Silverman

Much of how non-Native Americans imagine the first Thanksgiving is wrong. Most importantly, the alliance between Wampanoags and pilgrims was not forged in a political and historical vacuum, as portrayed by generations of pageants. Focusing on the Wampanoag and their Native American neighbors in New England, historian Silverman repositions the Wampanoag-pilgrim relationship within the region’s history and brings its complexity to life.

The Three-Cornered War : The Union, The Confederacy, And Native Peoples In The Fight For The West by Megan Kate Nelson

A dramatic, riveting, and deeply researched narrative account of the epic struggle for the West during the Civil War, revealing a little-known, vastly important episode in American history. Exploring the connections among the Civil War, the Indian wars, and western expansion, Nelson reframes the era as one of national conflict–involving not just the North and South, but also the West. Against the backdrop of this larger series of battles, Nelson introduces nine individuals who fought for self-determination and control of the region,

Tragic Encounters: A People’s History of Native Americans by Page Smith

From Jamestown to Wounded Knee, the story of these Native peoples from coast to coast is explored, granting these oppressed and nearly destroyed people a chance to tell their own broad story.  Smith is one of America’s greatest historians who uses contemporaneous documents to provide the structure and substance of his story.

Unworthy Republic : The Dispossession Of Native Americans And The Road to Indian Territory by Claudio Saunt

A masterful and unsettling history of the forced migration of 80,000 Native Americans across the Mississippi River in the 1830s. Saunt upends the common view that “Indian Removal” was an inevitable chapter in US expansion across the continent. Instead, Saunt argues that it was a contested political act-resisted by both indigenous peoples and US citizens-that passed in Congress by a razor-thin margin. He reveals how expulsion became national policy, abetted by southern slave owners and financed by Wall Street. 

We Had A Little Real Estate Problem : The Unheralded Story Of Native Americans in Comedy by Kliph Nesteroff

Comedy historian Nesteroff focuses on one of comedy’s most significant and little-known stories: how, despite having been denied representation in the entertainment industry, Native Americans have influenced and advanced the art form. Profiles important events and humorists from the 1880s to the present.

Why We Serve : Native Americans In The United States Armed Forces by Alexandra N. Harris

Commemorates the 2020 opening of the National Native American Veterans Memorial at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the first landmark in Washington, DC, to recognize the bravery and sacrifice of Native veterans. The book brings fascinating history to life with historical photographs, sketches, paintings, and maps. Incredible contributions from important voices in the field offer a complex examination of the history of Native American service.

Winter Counts : A Novel by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

A groundbreaking thriller about a vigilante on a Native American reservation who embarks on a dangerous mission to track down the source of a heroin influx. 

Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. When justice is denied by the American legal system or the tribal council, Virgil is hired to deliver his own punishment, the kind that’s hard to forget. But when heroin makes its way into the reservation and finds Virgil’s nephew, his vigilantism suddenly becomes personal. He enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend and sets out to learn where the drugs are coming from, and how to make them stop.

-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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