Since 1990, November has been nationally celebrated as Native American Heritage Month. We take this month to honor the cultures, histories and contributions that Native people have made throughout the years. To help celebrate, we’ve curated a reading list of books from all Native American authors touching on different aspects of Native American life.
We would also like to highlight the 2021 Native Cinema Showcase going on until the 18th of this month. The National Museum of the American Indian’s Native Cinema Showcase is an annual celebration of the best in Native film. This year’s showcase focuses on Native people boldly asserting themselves through language, healing, building community, and a continued relationship with the land. Activism lies at the heart of all these stories. The showcase provides a unique forum for engagement with Native filmmakers from Indigenous communities throughout the Western Hemisphere and Arctic. Click here to learn more about the films being shown at the showcase.
BY MALINDA MAYNOR LOWERY
Lowery argues that “Indian” is a dynamic identity that, for outsiders, sometimes hinged on the presence of “Indian blood” (for federal New Deal policy makers) and sometimes on the absence of “black blood” (for southern white segregationists). Lumbee people themselves have constructed their identity in layers that tie together kin and place, race and class, tribe and nation; however, Indians have not always agreed on how to weave this fabric into a whole. Using photographs, letters, genealogy, federal and state records, and first-person family history, Lowery narrates this compelling conversation between insiders and outsiders, demonstrating how the Lumbee People challenged the boundaries of Indian, southern, and American identities.
BY JENNY TONE-PAH-HOTE
Drawing from a rich array of source material and blending personal experience with analytical skill, Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote explores carefully how, from the 1870s to the 1930s, the Kiowa created an expressive culture in pursuit of many important goals. In the face of powerful forces of assimilation and appropriation—vividly captured in this compact book—Kiowa people purposely mobilized dress, adornment, artwork, and dance to maintain bonds of kinship and community, represent change in religious identity, create new intertribal spaces, contribute to markets, preserve ties to territory, and exercise sovereignty.Daniel H. Usner, Vanderbilt University
BY CHRISTOPHER B. TEUTON
Cherokee Stories of the Turtle Island Liars’ Club paints a vivid, fascinating portrait of a community deeply grounded in tradition and dynamically engaged in the present. A collection of forty interwoven stories, conversations, and teachings about Western Cherokee life, beliefs, and the art of storytelling, the book orchestrates a multilayered conversation between a group of honored Cherokee elders, storytellers, and knowledge-keepers and the communities their stories touch. Collaborating with Hastings Shade, Sammy Still, Sequoyah Guess, and Woody Hansen, Cherokee scholar Christopher B. Teuton has assembled the first collection of traditional and contemporary Western Cherokee stories published in over forty years.
BY MALINDA MAYNOR LOWERY
This book is Maynor Lowery’s ode to the Lumbee people and her reconciliation of what it means to be American and Lumbee concurrently. She contends that the two do not exist in contradistinction to each other, nor do they exist copacetically. She writes in a way that is accessible to the reader, palatable for non-Natives, and her book is a decidedly and incontrovertibly Lumbee work by and for Lumbee people.American Indian Quarterly
BY COURTNEY LEWIS
By 2009, reverberations of economic crisis spread from the United States around the globe. As corporations across the United States folded, however, small businesses on the Qualla Boundary of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) continued to thrive. In this rich ethnographic study, Courtney Lewis reveals the critical roles small businesses such as these play for Indigenous nations. The EBCI has an especially long history of incorporated, citizen-owned businesses located on their lands. When many people think of Indigenous-owned businesses, they stop with prominent casino gaming operations or natural-resource intensive enterprises. But on the Qualla Boundary today, Indigenous entrepreneurship and economic independence extends to art galleries, restaurants, a bookstore, a funeral parlor, and more.