This Native American Heritage Month, take the time to honor and center Native voices and experiences (which we should do every day). A great way to practice this is by reading and supporting content created by Native people and communities. If you are interested in reading more about particular Native American history and culture, this is a great website to start with.
Before we start, let’s first take the time to acknowledge the land that we live on is stolen Native land. Here is a very neat website if you are interested in discovering what Native tribal land you currently occupy. Just enter your zip code and you’ll discover the names of the tribes around your local area!
In my last article, I focused on a general list of books by Native American and Indigenous authors. This time, I am amplifying children’s books by Native and Indigenous authors.
Here are just a few children’s books by Native and Indigenous authors to include in any budding bookworm’s little library.
We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom (author) and Michaela Goade (illustrator)
This first recommendation places our global issue of climate change at the forefront. We Are Water Protectors is inspired by grassroots Indigenous-led movements across the country to fight for clean water. This book will expose young children to Indigenous cultures and values. Additionally, it will leave an impact and influence any reader to take a stance and fight for not only clean water but also our planet. Carole Lindstrom is Anishinabe/Metis and is tribally enrolled with the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe.
I Sang You Down from the Stars by Tasha Spillet-Sumner (author) and Michaela Goade (illustrator)
Tasha Spillet-Sumner’s I Sang You Down from the Stars is a heart-warming and beautiful story. Spillet-Sumner herself is Inninewak (Cree) and Trinidadian. In this children’s book, she relays the strength and bond between mother and child through an Indigenous cultural identity and context. In other words, the book sings from the perspective of an Indigenous mother in welcoming her child to his world. With gorgeous and lyrical storytelling by Spillet-Sumner and the creative artwork by Michaela Goade, I Sang You Down from the Stars is requisite in any little library.
Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard (author) and Juana Martinez-Neal (illustrator)
Frybread: A Native American Family Story is by debut author Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by the talented Juana Martinez-Neal. Maillard is an enrolled member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. Frybread is a family-oriented book and captures the complexity of Native/Indigenous identity. Family, community, identity, and history are centered around fry bread in Maillard’s book, which is more than just food. Fry bread is part of culture and ties family and culture together.
Apple: (Skin to the Core) by Eric Gansworth
This last but very important read is for an older reader and is a memoir. Eric Gansworth’s Apple: (Skin to the Core) is a memoir about his experiences growing up Onondaga and raised as the Tuscarora Nation. Gansworth centers his family history and trauma and its effects on his growth. More than anything, Gansworth’s powerful memoir validates Native and Indigenous youth and tells the pain and joy of coming of age.
I hope you take a look at these recommendations because as people in the US who live on Native land, we need to at the very least amplify and center Native American voices not only for Native American Heritage Month but every time of the year.
For more Native and Indigenous poetry recommendations, click here for my last article for Native American recommendations, and click here to take a look at the poetic talent of three poets from the Native/Indigenous community.