November is National American Indian Heritage Month and we are excited to share a few suggestions of different aspects of Native culture with our guests and followers each week throughout the month. Our goal is not just to push out information for you to absorb – we would love to hear suggestions and recommendations on these topics from you as well! We hope this month is an opportunity for conversation, growth, learning and passion for the whole community.
Kicking off this month, we are excited to share a few book and author recommendations. You may not know this, but co-owner Ben Jacobs is not only a tribal member of the Osage Nation, but he majored in History and Native American studies during his time at the University of Denver. We thought it would be fun to pick his brain for a loose recommended reading list. As he puts it, “from childrens’ to history to fiction, Native authors have and continue to create amazing works in literature. Here are a few of my favorites…”
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Louise Erdrich won the National Book Award in 2012 for this novel. She has written several novels, but this is a favorite. The judge’s citation for the National Book Award reads “In this haunting, powerful novel, Erdrich tells the story of a family and community nearly undone by violence. Using the quiet, reflective voice of a young boy forced into an early adulthood following a brutal assault on his mother, Erdrich has created an intricately layered novel that not only untangles our nation’s history of moral and judicial failure, but also offers a portrait of a community sustained by its traditions, values, faith, and stories.” Erdrich is enrolled as a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.
Meet Christopher by Genevieve Simermeyer
This children’s book is recommended for children 9 and up, and was written by Ben’s sister, making it a special addition to the list. It is the 4th book in the Council Oak / Smithsonian series, My World: Young Native Americans Today. It is a great way to introduce modern American Indian culture to young readers.
Author, Vine Deloria, Jr.
Vine Deloria, Jr. was the author of many books, including Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto, God is Red, and, The World We Used to Live In: Remembering the Powers of the Medicine Men. Not only was he an author, but he was a theologian, professor, served as the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians as well as on the board of the National Museum of the American Indian. Look up anything by Vine Deloria and you will be sure to learn a lot.
A Pipe for February by Charles H. Red Corn
This novel explores the topic of the Oklahoma oil boom of the 1920s that dramatically changed the lives of many in the Osage tribe. This book is a historical fiction that illuminates a fascinating and dark period of history for the Osage and the nation. This is another book that is close to Ben’s heart as it was written by his uncle.
Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden by Gilbert L. Wilson
Whether you are a gardener or not, this book is a fascinating look at the methods used by a Hidatsa Indian woman born in about the year 1839. This book was originally published in 1917 and is an anthropological look at the woman’s methods, actually transcribing her words and telling the traditional gardening methods she and her family had used for centuries. It’s a great way to delve deeper into what we believe to be core elements of the Indigenous food movement.
Talking to the Moon by John Joseph Matthews
This is a beautifully written book by Osage author John Joseph Matthews. After attending university and serving as a pilot in World War I, Matthews returns to his Osage home and writes about his adventures and experiences in the natural world.
We hope that you are able to go out and pick up something new this month to learn a bit more about the history and culture of American Indians. We also really hope to hear your own favorite books and authors. Please share your recommendations in the comments here, or on our Facebook page, and check back each week in November for more on our celebration of the contributions of American Indians to our shared history.