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Native American Books & Resources: Teens
Fiction & nonfiction print and web sources for adults, kids, teens, & educators that reflect accurate, authentic and contemporary representations of Native Americans.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieBestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live. With a forward by Markus Zusak, interviews with Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney, and four-color interior art throughout, this edition is perfect for fans and collectors alike.
My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dahl EdwardsonLuke knows his I´nupiaq name is full of sounds white people can't say. He knows he'll have to leave it behind when he and his brothers are sent to boarding school hundreds of miles from their Arctic village. At Sacred Heart School things are different. Instead of family, there are students--Eskimo, Indian, White--who line up on different sides of the cafeteria like there's some kind of war going on. And instead of comforting words like tutu and maktak, there's English. Speaking I´nupiaq--or any native language--is forbidden. And Father Mullen, whose fury is like a force of nature, is ready to slap down those who disobey. Luke struggles to survive at Sacred Heart. But he's not the only one. There's smart-aleck Amiq, a daring leader--if he doesn't self destruct; Chickie, blond and freckled, a different kind of outsider; and small quiet Junior, noticing everything and writing it all down. Each has their own story to tell. But once their separate stories come together, things at Sacred Heart School--and in the wider world--will never be the same.
The Great Death by John SmelcerThe Great Death arrived with the man from downriver, the one who came with the light-colored strangers and had little red spots covering his body. Thirteen-year-old Millie and her younger sister, Maura, are fascinated by the guests, but soon sickness takes over their village. As they watch the people they know and love die, the sisters remain unaffected and begin to realize that they will have to find a new home. Alone in the cold Alaskan winter of 1917, struggling to overcome the obstacles nature throws their way, the girls discover that their true strength lies in their love for each other. John Smelcer's spare and beautiful prose shapes the sisters' story with tenderness and skill, presenting a powerful tale of determination, survival, and family.
Touching Spirit Bear by Ben MikaelsenIn his Nautilus Award-winning classic Touching Spirit Bear, author Ben Mikaelson delivers a powerful coming-of-age story of a boy who must overcome the effects that violence has had on his life. After severely injuring Peter Driscal in an empty parking lot, mischief-maker Cole Matthews is in major trouble. But instead of jail time, Cole is given another option: attend Circle Justice, an alternative program that sends juvenile offenders to a remote Alaskan Island to focus on changing their ways. Desperate to avoid prison, Cole fakes humility and agrees to go. While there, Cole is mauled by a mysterious white bear and left for dead. Thoughts of his abusive parents, helpless Peter, and his own anger cause him to examine his actions and seek redemption--from the spirit bear that attacked him, from his victims, and, most importantly, from himself. Ben Mikaelsen paints a vivid picture of a juvenile offender, examining the roots of his anger without absolving him of responsibility for his actions, and questioning a society in which angry people make victims of their peers and communities. Touching Spirit Bear is a poignant testimonial to the power of a pain that can destroy, or lead to healing. A strong choice for independent reading, sharing in the classroom, homeschooling, and book groups.
Lone Wolves by John Smelcer"A beautiful and moving story of courage and love."--Ray Bradbury Praise for The Great Death: "An amazing story."--Frank McCourt "Gripping and poignant. . . . An unforgettable survival tale."--Horn Book "A beautiful, poignant story."--Elie Wiesel, Nobel Prize winner "Graphically illustrates the effects of a plague on isolated peoples."--School Library Journal "An engaging tale of survival."--Kirkus Reviews Praise for The Trap: "An unforgettable story. Brilliant!"--Ray Bradbury "A gripping example of talented storytelling. Unforgettable."--Tony Hillerman Praise for The Edge of Nowhere: "More psychological depth than Robinson Crusoe."--Frank McCourt Praise for Alaskan: "Smelcer is Alaska's modern-day Jack London."--W.P. Kinsella "A celebration of the diversity of cultures. Undeniably important!"--James Michener "An indispensible contribution to Alaskan literature."--JD Salinger "This writer speaks from the land, and for the land, and the people who belong to it."--Ursula K. Le Guin Deneena Yazzie's love of the woods and trail come from her grandfather, who teaches her their all-but-vanished Native Alaskan language. While her peers lose hope, trapped between the old and the modern cultures, and turn to destructive behaviors, Denny and her mysterious lead dog, a blue-eyed wolf, train for the Great Race--giving her town a new pride and hope. John Smelcer is poetry editor of Rosebud and the author of more than forty books. He is an Alaskan Native of the Ahtna tribe, and the last surviving reader and writer of Ahtna. John holds degrees in archeology, linguistics, literature, and education, and formerly chaired the Alaska Native Studies program and the University of Alaska (Anchorage).
Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich SmithWinner of an American Indian Youth Literature Award New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith turns to realistic fiction with the thoughtful story of a Native teen navigating the complicated, confusing waters of high school -- and first love. When Louise Wolfe's first real boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. It's her senior year, anyway, and she'd rather spend her time with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper. The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, the ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time the paper's staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director's inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town. From the newly formed Parents Against Revisionist Theater to anonymous threats, long-held prejudices are being laid bare and hostilities are spreading against teachers, parents, and students -- especially the cast members at the center of the controversy, including Lou's little brother, who's playing the Tin Man. As tensions mount at school, so does a romance between Lou and Joey -- but as she's learned, "dating while Native" can be difficult. In trying to protect her own heart, will Lou break Joey's?
The House of Purple Cedar by Tim Tingle"The hour has come to speak of troubled times. It is time we spoke of Skullyville." Thus begins Rose Goode's story of her growing up in Indian Territory in pre-statehood Oklahoma. Skullyville, a once-thriving Choctaw community, was destroyed by land-grabbers, culminating in the arson on New Year's Eve, 1896, of New Hope Academy for Girls. Twenty Choctaw girls died, but Rose escaped. She is blessed by the presence of her grandmother Pokoni and her grandfather Amafo, both respected elders who understand the old ways. Soon after the fire, the white sheriff beats Amafo in front of the town's people, humiliating him. Instead of asking the Choctaw community to avenge the beating, her grandfather decides to follow the path of forgiveness. And so unwinds this tale of mystery, Indian-style magical realism, and deep wisdom. It's a world where backwoods spiritualism and Bible-thumping Christianity mix with bad guys; a one-legged woman shop-keeper, her oaf of a husband, herbal potions, and shape-shifting panthers rendering justice. Tim Tingle--a scholar of his nation's language, culture, and spirituality--tells Rose's story of good and evil with understanding and even laugh-out-loud Choctaw humor. Tim Tingle, responding to a scarcity of Choctaw literature, began interviewing tribal elders in the early '90s. His collectionWalking the Choctaw Road was the Oklahoma Book of the Year. Tingle's children's book,Crossing Bok Chitto, garnered over twenty state and national awards, including Best Children's Book from the American Indian Library Association, and was an Editor's Choice in theNew York Times Book Review.
The Talking Earth by Jean Craighead George"Billie Wind lives with her Seminole tribe. She follows their customs, but the dangers of pollution and nuclear war she's learned about in school seem much more real to her. How can she believe the Seminole legends about talking animals and earth spirits? She wants answers, not legends. "You are a doubter,"say the men of the Seminole Council and so Billie goes out into the Everglades alone, to stay until she can believe. In the wilderness, she discovers that she must listen to the land and animals in order to survive. With an otter, a panther cub, and a turtle as companions and guides, she begins to understand that the world of her people can give her the answers she seeks.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
Director Yves Simoneau explores the plight of the American Indian in the later half of the 19th century in this docudrama exploring the effects of westward expansion and based on the book by Dee Brown. ~
Recounting how the West was won through the eyes of a white man raised as a Native American, this comic yet stinging allegory is about the bloody results of American imperialism. 121-year-old Jack Crabb narrates the story of being the only white survivor of Custer's Last Stand. White orphan Crabb was adopted by the Cheyenne, renamed "Little Big Man," and raised in the ways of the "Human Beings" accepting non-conformity and living peacefully with nature.
Collection of films related to the Native American experience. Great Indian leaders & nations presents true stories of Chief Joseph, Crazy Horse, Quanah Parker, Geronimo, and the Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne tribes.
Trail of tears : Cherokee legacy: Documents the forced removal in 1838 of the Cherokee Nation from the southeastern United States to Oklahoma. Shows the suffering endured by the Cherokees as they lost their land and the difficult conditions they endured on the trail. Describes how thousands of Cherokees died during the Trail of Tears, nearly a quarter of the nation, including most of their children and elders.
Non Fiction Books
Apple by Eric GansworthHow about a book that makes you barge into your boss's office to read a page of poetry from? That you dream of? That every movie, song, book, moment that follows continues to evoke in some way? The term "Apple" is a slur in Native communities across the country. It's for someone supposedly "red on the outside, white on the inside." Eric Gansworth is telling his story in Apple (Skin to the Core). The story of his family, of Onondaga among Tuscaroras, of Native folks everywhere. From the horrible legacy of the government boarding schools, to a boy watching his siblings leave and return and leave again, to a young man fighting to be an artist who balances multiple worlds. Eric shatters that slur and reclaims it in verse and prose and imagery that truly lives up to the word heartbreaking.
Urban Tribes by Lisa Charleyboy; Mary Beth LeatherdaleYoung, urban Natives powerfully show how their culture and values can survive--and enrich--city life. Much of the popular discourse on Native Americans and Aboriginals focuses on reservation life. But the majority of Natives in North America live off the rez. How do they stay rooted to their culture? How do they connect with their community? Urban Tribes offers unique insight into this growing and often misperceived group. Emotionally potent and visually arresting, the anthology profiles young urban Natives from across North America, exploring how they connect with Native culture and values in their contemporary lives. Their stories are as diverse as they are. From a young Dene woman pursuing a MBA at Stanford to a Pima photographer in Phoenix to a Mohawk actress in New York, these urban Natives share their unique perspectives to bridge the divide between their past and their future, their cultural home, and their adopted cities. Unflinchingly honest and deeply moving, contributors explore a wide-range of topics. From the trials and tribulations of dating in the city to the alienating experience of leaving a remote reserve to attend high school in the city, from the mainstream success of Electric Pow wow music to the humiliation of dealing with racist school mascots, personal perspectives illuminate larger political issues. An innovative and highly visual design offers a dynamic, reading experience.
An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz; Debbie Reese2020 American Indian Youth Literature Young Adult Honor Book 2020 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People,selected by National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and the Children's Book Council 2019 Best-Of Lists: Best YA Nonfiction of 2019 (Kirkus Reviews) · Best Nonfiction of 2019 (School Library Journal) · Best Books for Teens (New York Public Library) · Best Informational Books for Older Readers (Chicago Public Library) Spanning more than 400 years, this classic bottom-up history examines the legacy of Indigenous peoples' resistance, resilience, and steadfast fight against imperialism. Going beyond the story of America as a country "discovered" by a few brave men in the "New World," Indigenous human rights advocate Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz reveals the roles that settler colonialism and policies of American Indian genocide played in forming our national identity. The original academic text is fully adapted by renowned curriculum experts Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza, for middle-grade and young adult readers to include discussion topics, archival images, original maps, recommendations for further reading, and other materials to encourage students, teachers, and general readers to think critically about their own place in history.
All the Real Indians Died Off by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz; Dina Gilio-WhitakerUnpacks the twenty-one most common myths and misconceptions about Native Americans In this enlightening book, scholars and activists Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker tackle a wide range of myths about Native American culture and history that have misinformed generations. Tracing how these ideas evolved, and drawing from history, the authors disrupt long-held and enduring myths such as: "Columbus Discovered America" "Thanksgiving Proves the Indians Welcomed Pilgrims" "Indians Were Savage and Warlike" "Europeans Brought Civilization to Backward Indians" "The United States Did Not Have a Policy of Genocide" "Sports Mascots Honor Native Americans" "Most Indians Are on Government Welfare" "Indian Casinos Make Them All Rich" "Indians Are Naturally Predisposed to Alcohol" Each chapter deftly shows how these myths are rooted in the fears and prejudice of European settlers and in the larger political agendas of a settler state aimed at acquiring Indigenous land and tied to narratives of erasure and disappearance. Accessibly written and revelatory, "All the Real Indians Died Off" challenges readers to rethink what they have been taught about Native Americans and history.
#Notyourprincess by Lisa Charleyboy (Editor); Mary Beth Leatherdale (Editor)Native Women demand to be heard in this stunning anthology. Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous women across North America resound in this book. In the same style as the best-selling Dreaming in Indian, #Not Your Princess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give teen readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.
Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians but Were Afraid to Ask by Anton Treuer"I had a profoundly well-educated Princetonian ask me, 'Where is your tomahawk?' I had a beautiful woman approach me in the college gymnasium and exclaim, 'You have the most beautiful red skin.' I took a friend to see Dances with Wolves and was told, 'Your people have a beautiful culture.' . . . I made many lifelong friends at college, and they supported but also challenged me with questions like, 'Why should Indians have reservations?' " What have you always wanted to know about Indians? Do you think you should already know the answers--or suspect that your questions may be offensive? In matterof-fact responses to over 120 questions, both thoughtful and outrageous, modern and historical, Ojibwe scholar and cultural preservationist Anton Treuer gives a frank, funny, and sometimes personal tour of what's up with Indians, anyway. * What is the real story of Thanksgiving? * Why are tribal languages important? * What do you think of that incident where people died in a sweat lodge? White/Indian relations are often characterized by guilt and anger. Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians But Were Afraid to Ask cuts through the emotion and builds a foundation for true understanding and positive action. Anton Treuer, author of The Assassination of Hole in the Day and many other books on Ojibwe history and language, received an Ambassador Award in 2011 from Facing Race: We're All in This Together, an initiative of the St. Paul Foundation. All around Minnesota, Treuer has given scores of public lectures and been asked hundreds of questions--many like the ones in this book.