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Topic: Native and Indigenous Heritage Month — Overview

An annotated bibliography of selected works by Native American authors on display at the Avery Point Library.

What is Native and Indigenous Heritage Month?

Native and Indigenous Heritage Month is recognized annually during the month of November. On August 3, 1990, former President George H.W. Bush declared the month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month. It has also been known as Native American Heritage Month and American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month.

During this month we celebrate the diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of Native and Indigenous communities. It is intended to uplift the voices and acknowledge the contributions of all Native peoples.

The Avery Point Library has created a display and annotated bibliography of works, as well as e-resources, by Native and Indigenous American authors. These items are located in the University of Connecticut Library catalog. All items are accessible to and may be requested by all members of the UConn community. 

Created by Trevor Brown and Chay Reed at the Avery Point Library.

 

Alexie, Sherman. You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me: a Memoir. First edition., Little, Brown and Company, 2017.

An autobiography highlighting the strenuous childhood and formative years of the author and the complex bond shared with his mother, Lillian Alexie. Written in poetry and prose, several of the stories are reminiscent of Sherman's previous work, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007). Themes of violence, abuse, alcoholism, addiction, poverty, and family ties are found throughout this work. Sherman Alexie is an enrolled citizen of the Spokane Tribe of Washington state.

 

Erdrich, Louise. The Night Watchman: a Novel. First edition., Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2020. 

In "The Night Watchman," author Louise Erdrich tells the story of Thomas Wazhushk, who is modeled after her grandfather, Patrick Gourneau. Thomas works as the night watchman at the first factory in the Turtle Mountain Reservation area, in rural North Dakota. A Chippewa council member, Thomas fears a new government bill that may be designed to displace the Native community living on the reservation. This work includes themes of family, employment, community organization, exploitation, displacement, government treaties, identity, traditions, violence, love, and death. Louise Erdrich is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.

 

Harjo, Joy. Poet Warrior: a Memoir. First edition., W. W. Norton & Company, 2021.

Written in poetry, prose, and song, Harjo shares stories of her childhood, adult life as a wife and mother, family, culture, and poetry influences. The book includes themes of family, music, poetry, cultural traditions, religion, spirituality, and environmental concerns. Harjo was honored as the 23rd U.S. Poet Laureate, the first Native American to serve in that position. Joy Harjo is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. 

 

Hobson, Brandon. The Removed: a Novel. First edition., Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2021.

The Removed tells of the Echota family’s struggles, seeking a path to find the light after a tragedy. Fifteen years after their son, Ray-Ray, is shot and killed by a White police officer, Maria and Ernest Echota welcome 12-year-old foster child, Wyatt, into their home. Wyatt's personality resembles their lost son and his presence seems to miraculously improve Ernests's dementia. Themes in this work include Cherokee culture, storytelling, family, identity, mental illness, substance abuse, and displacement. Brandon Hobson is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation Tribe of Oklahoma.  

 

Orange, Tommy. There There. First edition., Alfred A. Knopf, 2018.

This book tells of the experiences of several people, all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. The stories are an impression of Native American life in Oakland, California, through the perspectives of 12 different characters. While some come to the Powwow with honest intentions, others have darker schemes at work. Orange casually intersperses thoughts on what it means to be an "Urban Indian." The themes in this book include identity, tradition, family, and culture. Tommy Orange is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma.

 

 

 

 

 

Platero, Dillon. “McCracken Mesa Land Dispute Finally Settled.” The Navajo Times, Vol 1, No 1, November 1959. American Indian Newspapers, Adam Matthew Digital.

The end of a land dispute was celebrated by the Navajo community in Aneth, Utah on November 1, 1959. The Navajo community had been forced off of the land by Mormon ranchers, using grazing lease laws granted by the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. The land dispute ended in a swap where the Navajo gave the US government 50,000 acres of land and received an equitable amount in return known as the McCracken Mesa. The end of the dispute will allow families living near McCracken Mesa to join the established reservation. Navajo families joined together for the ceremony, seen by Norman Littell as "one of the great events of Navajo history." Dillon Platero was a member of the Navajo tribe.