November is Native American Heritage Month. During this time, it is important to celebrate the culture, traditions, and history of Indigenous people.
The following titles are written by Indigenous authors and tell important stories based around traditions and the hard truths of everyday life. They are suitable for middle grade and young adult readers, and span across different genres.
In a futuristic world ravaged by global warming, people have lost the ability to dream, and the dreamlessness has led to widespread madness. The only people still able to dream are North America's Indigenous people, and it is their marrow that holds the cure for the rest of the world.
Elatsoe lives in this slightly stranger America. She can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Her beloved cousin has just been murdered in a town that wants no prying eyes. But she is going to do more than pry.
Lately, seventh-grader Nizhoni Begay has been able to detect monsters, like that man in the fancy suit who was in the bleachers at her basketball game. Turns out he's Mr. Charles, her dad's new boss at the oil and gas company, and he's alarmingly interested in Nizhoni and her brother, Mac, their Navajo heritage, and the legend of the Hero Twins.
As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she'll go to protect her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.
A YA memoir-in-verse, Eric Gansworth tells the story of his life, an Onondaga family living among Tuscaroras, and of Native people in America, including the damaging legacy of government boarding schools—and in doing so grapples with the slur common in Native communities, for someone “red on the outside, white on the inside,” and reclaims it.
Echo Desjardins, a 13-year-old Métis girl adjusting to a new home and school, is struggling with loneliness while separated from her mother. Then an ordinary day in Mr. Bee’s history class turns extraordinary, and Echo’s life will never be the same.
Tasha Spillett’s graphic novel debut, Surviving the City, is a story about womanhood, friendship, colonialism, and the anguish of a missing loved one. Miikwan and Dez are best friends. Miikwan is 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.
A collection of intersecting stories set at a powwow that bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride.
In the real world, Bugz's a shy and self-conscious Indigenous teen who faces the stresses of teenage angst and reservation life. But in the virtual world, her alter ego is not only confident but dominant in a massive multiplayer video game universe. Feng is a teen boy who has been sent from China to live with his aunt, a doctor on the reserve, after his online activity suggests he may be developing extremist sympathies. Meeting each other in real life, as well as in the virtual world, Bugz and Feng immediately relate to each other as outsiders and avid gamers. As their connection is strengthened through their virtual adventures, they find they have much in common in the real world, too: both must decide what to do in the face of temptations and pitfalls, and both must grapple with the impact of family and community trauma.
This young reader’s edition of the original book for adults includes new material for the younger lens. Structured around dozens of different questions, some weighty and some minor, but all the time funny, insightful, personal, and interesting, this book will tell you everything you ever wanted to learn about Native Americans but were afraid to ask.
Alyssa Krob is Reference & Teen Services Librarian of the Bluffton Branch Library, Beaufort County Library System