Discover adult books by Indigenous authors to share every day of the year. Visit denverlibrary.org/indigenous-heritage for events and recommendations to celebrate Indigenous People's Heritage Month all November long at the library.
Aboriginal, Barbadian, Irish and Afghani heritage
Odette Brown has lived her entire life on the fringes of Deane, a small Australian country town. Dark secrets simmer beneath the surface of Deane--secrets that could explain why Odette's daughter, Lila, left her one-year-old daughter, Sissy, and never came back, or why Sissy has white skin when her family is Aboriginal. For thirteen years, Odette has quietly raised her granddaughter without drawing notice from welfare authorities who remove fair-skinned Aboriginal children from their families. But the arrival of a new policeman with cruel eyes and a rigid by-the-book attitude throws the Brown women's lives off-kilter. It will take all of Odette's courage and cunning to save Sissy from the authorities, and maybe even lead her to find her daughter. Bolstered by love, smarts, and the strength of their ancestors, Odette and Sissy are an indomitable force, handling threats to their family and their own identities with grace and ingenuity, while never losing hope for themselves and their future.
The Natives of the Colony are restless. The Settlers are eager to have a nation of peace, and to bring the savages into line. Families are torn apart, reeducation is enforced. This rich land will provide for all. This is not Australia as we know it. This is not the Australia of our history.
In this epic, original novel in which Hawaii's fierce, sweeping past springs to life, Kiana Davenport, author of the acclaimed Shark Dialogues, draws upon the remarkable stories of her people to create a timeless, passionate tale of love and survival, tragedy and triumph, survival and transcendence. In spellbinding, sensual prose, Song of the Exile follows the fortunes of the Meahuna family--and the odyssey of one resilient man searching for his soul mate after she is torn from his side by the forces of war. From the turbulent years of World War II through Hawaii's complex journey to statehood, this mesmerizing story presents a cast of richly imagined characters who rise up magnificent and forceful, redeemed by the spiritual power and the awesome beauty of their islands.
citizen of the Chickasaw Nation
Trickster Academy is a full-length collection of poems that explore the experience of being Native in Academia -- from land acknowledgement statements to the criteria for tenure and the histories of using Native American remains within Anthropology. Organized around the premise of the Trickster Academy, a university space run by and meant for training "tricksters," this collection moves between the personal dynamics of a two-spirit Indigenous woman in spaces where there are few others, and a "trickster's" critique of those same spaces. But these realities aren't specific only to those in academic positions -- from leaving home, to being the only Indian in the room, to having to deal with the constant pressures to being a 'real Indian,' they are shared experiences of Indians across many different regions, and all of us who live among tricksters.
Mojave, Akimel O’odham and Latinx
Postcolonial Love Poem is an anthem of desire against erasure. Natalie Diaz's brilliant second collection demands that every body carried in its pages--bodies of language, land, rivers, suffering brothers, enemies, and lovers--be touched and held as beloveds. Through these poems, the wounds inflicted by America onto an indigenous people are allowed to bloom pleasure and tenderness.
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (Anishinaabe)
It is 1953. Thomas Wazhushk is the night watchman at the first factory to open near the Turtle Mountain Reservation in rural North Dakota. He is also a prominent Chippewa Council member, trying to understand a new bill that is soon to be put before Congress. The US Government calls it an 'emancipation' bill; but it isn't about freedom - it threatens the rights of Native Americans to their land, their very identity. How can he fight this betrayal? Unlike most of the girls on the reservation, Pixie - 'Patrice' - Paranteau has no desire to wear herself down on a husband and kids. She works at the factory, earning barely enough to support her mother and brother, let alone her alcoholic father who sometimes returns home to bully her for money. But Patrice needs every penny to get if she's ever going to get to Minnesota to find her missing sister Vera. In The Night Watchman multi-award winning author Louise Erdrich weaves together a story of past and future generations, of preservation and progress. She grapples with the worst and best impulses of human nature, illuminating the loves and lives, desires and ambitions of her characters with compassion, wit and intelligence.
a descendent of the Battle River Cree and a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation
Taken from their families when they are very small and sent to a remote, church-run residential school, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie are barely out of childhood when they are finally released after years of detention. Alone and without any skills, support or families, the teens find their way to the seedy and foreign world of Downtown Eastside Vancouver, where they cling together, striving to find a place of safety and belonging in a world that doesn't want them. The paths of the five friends cross and crisscross over the decades as they struggle to overcome, or at least forget, the trauma they endured during their years at the Mission. Fuelled by rage and furious with God, Clara finds her way into the dangerous, highly charged world of the American Indian Movement. Maisie internalizes her pain and continually places herself in dangerous situations. Famous for his daring escapes from the school, Kenny can't stop running and moves restlessly from job to job -- through fishing grounds, orchards and logging camps -- trying to outrun his memories and his addiction.
Joy Harjo (Muscogee (Creek) Nation) / LeAnne Howe (member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) / Jennifer Elise Foerster (member of the Mvskoke (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma)
United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo gathers the work of more than 160 poets, representing nearly 100 indigenous nations, into the first historically comprehensive Native poetry anthology. This landmark anthology celebrates the indigenous peoples of North America, the first poets of this country, whose literary traditions stretch back centuries. Opening with a blessing from Pulitzer Prize-winner N. Scott Momaday, the book contains powerful introductions from contributing editors who represent the five geographically organized sections. Each section begins with a poem from traditional oral literatures and closes with emerging poets, ranging from Eleazar, a seventeenth-century Native student at Harvard, to Jake Skeets, a young Diné poet born in 1991, and including renowned writers such as Luci Tapahanso, Natalie Diaz, Layli Long Soldier, and Ray Young Bear. When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through offers the extraordinary sweep of Native literature, without which no study of American poetry is complete.
Peter Straub's Ghost Story meets Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies in this American Indian horror story of revenge on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Four American Indian men from the Blackfeet Nation, who were childhood friends, find themselves in a desperate struggle for their lives, against an entity that wants to exact revenge upon them for what they did during an elk hunt ten years earlier by killing them, their families, and friends.
Coast Salish author from the Nooksack and Upper Skagit Indian tribes
Sasha taqwšeblu LaPointe, a Coast Salish indigenous woman, has always longed for a sense of home. As a child her family moved around frequently, often staying in barely habitable church attics and trailers, dangerous places for young Sasha. As an adolescent determined to escape the poverty and abuse of her childhood in order to build a better future for herself and her people, Sasha throws herself headlong into the world, with little more to guide her than a passion for the thriving punk scene of the Pacific Northwest and a desire to live up to the responsibility of being the namesake of her beloved great-grandmother, a linguist who helped preserve her indigineous language of Lushootseed and one in a long line of powerful ancestors. Exploring what it means to be vulnerable in love and in art while offering an unblinking reckoning with personal traumas as well as the collective historical traumas of colonialism and genocide that continue to haunt native peoples, Red Paint is an intersectional autobiography of lineage, resilience and above all the ability to heal that chronicles Sasha's struggles navigating a collapsing marriage while answering the call to greater purpose.
WHEREAS confronts the coercive language of the United States government in its responses, treaties, and apologies to Native American peoples and tribes, and reflects that language in its officiousness and duplicity back on its perpetrators. Through a virtuosic array of short lyrics, prose poems, longer narrative sequences, resolutions, and disclaimers, Layli Long Soldier has created a brilliantly innovative text to examine histories, landscapes, her own writing, and her predicament inside national affiliations. “I am,” she writes, “a citizen of the United States and an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, meaning I am a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation—and in this dual citizenship I must work, I must eat, I must art, I must mother, I must friend, I must listen, I must observe, constantly I must live.” This strident, plaintive book introduces a major new voice in contemporary literature.
Lakota and Anishinaabe, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, and a descendant of the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux Tribes
A revolutionary wellness guide rooted in Indigenous ancestral knowledge, offering wisdom for spiritual, physical, and emotional wellbeing from Native American wellness activists.
Chinese, Kānaka Maoli
The acclaimed literary essayist T Kira Madden's raw and redemptive debut is a memoir about coming of age as a queer, biracial teenager within the fierce contradictions of Boca Raton, Florida, a place where cult-like privilege, shocking social and racial disparities, rampant white-collar crime, and powerfully destructive standards of beauty hide in plain sight. As a child in Florida, T Kira Madden lived a life of extravagance--from her exclusive private school to her equestrian trophies and designer shoes, she had plenty to envy. But beneath the surface, life in "the rat's mouth" of Boca Raton was dangerous. Left to her own devices as both parents battled drug addiction, Kira navigated the perils of coming of age too quickly, and without guidance--oblivious parents and misguided babysitters at home, tormentors at school, sexual predators at the mall, and the confused, often destructive, desperately loving friendship of fatherless girls. With unflinching honesty and moving, lyrical prose, and spanning from 1960's Hawai'i to the nip and tuck rooms of 1990s Florida to the present-day struggle of a young woman in a culture of harassment, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls is the story of families both lost and found, unmade and rebuilt, crooked and beautiful.
Seabird Island Band
Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot's mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father-an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist-who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame. Mailhot trusts the reader to understand that memory isn't exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept. Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world.
Exploring intergenerational trauma in Indigenous communities -- and strategies for healing -- with provocative prose and an empathetic approach. Indigenous peoples have shockingly higher rates of addiction, depression, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions than other North Americans. According to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, these are a result of intergenerational trauma: the unresolved terror, anger, fear, and grief created in Indigenous communities by the painful experiences of colonialism, passed down from generation to generation. How are we to turn this desperate tide? With passionate argumentation and chillingly clear prose, author and educator Suzanne Methot uses her own and others' stories to trace the roots of colonial trauma and the mechanisms by which trauma has become intergenerational, and she explores the Indigenous ways of knowing that can lead us toward change.
In Earth Keeper: Reflections on an American Land, Momaday reflects on his native ground and its influence on his people. "When I think about my life and the lives of my ancestors, I am inevitably led to the conviction that I, and they, belong to the American land. This is a declaration of belonging. And it is an offering to the earth." he writes. Earth Keeper is a story of attachment, rooted in oral tradition. Momaday recalls stories of his childhood that have been passed down through generations, stories that reveal a profound and sacred connection to the American landscape and a reverence for the natural world. In this moving work, he offers an homage and a warning. Momaday reminds us that the Earth is a sacred place of wonder and beauty; a source of strength and healing that must be protected before it's too late. As he so eloquently yet simply reminds us, we must all be keepers of the Earth.
An enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma
Twelve Native Americans came to the Big Oakland Powwow for different reasons. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxedrene is pulling his life together after his uncle's death and has come to work the powwow and to honor his uncle's memory. Edwin Frank has come to find his true father. Bobby Big Medicine has come to drum the Grand Entry. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil Red Feather; Orvil has taught himself Indian dance through YouTube videos, and he has come to the powwow to dance in public for the very first time. Tony Loneman is a young Native American boy whose future seems destined to be as bleak as his past, and he has come to the Powwow with darker intentions--intentions that will destroy the lives of everyone in his path. Tommy Orange delivers a wondrous and shattering portrait of an America few of us have ever seen. A multi-generational, relentlessly paced story about violence and recovery, hope and loss, identity and power, dislocation and communion, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people.
Nez Perce from Chief Joseph’s Band and is an enrolled member of the Colville Confederated Tribes
Beth Piatote's luminous debut collection opens with a feast, grounding its stories in the landscapes and lifeworlds of the Native Northwest, exploring the inventive and unforgettable pattern of Native American life in the contemporary world.
Nature Poem follows Teebs--a young, queer, American Indian (or NDN) poet--who can't bring himself to write a nature poem. For the reservation-born, urban-dwelling hipster, the exercise feels stereotypical, reductive, and boring. He hates nature. He prefers city lights to the night sky. He'd slap a tree across the face. He'd rather write a mountain of hashtag punchlines about death and give head in a pizza-parlor bathroom; he'd rather write odes to Aretha Franklin and Hole. While he's adamant--bratty, even--about his distaste for the word "natural," over the course of the book we see him confronting the assimilationist, historical, colonial-white ideas that collude NDN people with nature. The closer his people were identified with the "natural world," he figures, the easier it was to mow them down like the underbrush. But Teebs gradually learns how to interpret constellations through his own lens, along with human nature, sexuality, language, music, and Twitter. Even while he reckons with manifest destiny and genocide and centuries of disenfranchisement, he learns how to have faith in his own voice.
a Two-Spirit Oji-Cree person of the Buffalo Clan with roots in Sapotaweyak and Skownan Cree Nation
it was never going to be okay is a collection of poetry and prose exploring the intimacies of understanding intergenerational trauma, Indigeneity, and queerness, while addressing Urban Indigenous Diaspora and breaking down the limitations of sexual understanding as a trans woman. As a way to move from the linear timeline of healing and coming to terms with how trauma does not exist in subsequent happenings, it was never going to be okay tries to breakdown years of silence in their debut collection of poetry: i am five my sisters are saying boy i do not know what the word means but-- i am bruised into knowing it: the blunt b, the hollowness of the o, the blade of y.
Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg
In fierce prose and poetic fragments, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson's Noopiming braids together humor, piercing detail, and a deep, abiding commitment to Anishinaabe life to tell stories of resistance, love, and joy.
Canadian Inuk throat singer from Cambridge Bay (Iqaluktuutiaq)
A girl grows up in Nunavut in the 1970s. She knows joy, and friendship, and parents' love. She knows boredom, and listlessness, and bullying. She knows the tedium of the everyday world, and the raw, amoral power of the ice and sky, the seductive energy of the animal world. She knows the ravages of alcohol, and violence at the hands of those she should be able to trust. She sees the spirits that surround her, and the immense power that dwarfs all of us. When she becomes pregnant, she must navigate all of this.
pαnawάhpskewi from the Penobscot Indian Nation
Set in a Native community in Maine, Night of the Living Rez is a riveting debut collection about what it means to be Penobscot in the twenty-first century and what it means to live, to survive, and to persevere after tragedy. In twelve striking, luminescent stories, author Morgan Talty-with searing humor, abiding compassion, and deep insight-breathes life into tales of family and a community as they struggle with a painful past and an uncertain future. A boy unearths a jar that holds an old curse, which sets into motion his family's unraveling; a man, while trying to swindle some pot from a dealer, discovers a friend passed out in the woods, his hair frozen into the snow; a grandmother suffering from Alzheimer's projects the past onto her grandson; and two friends, inspired by Antiques Roadshow, attempt to rob the tribal museum for valuable root clubs. A collection that examines the consequences and merits of inheritance, Night of the Living Rez is an unforgettable portrayal of an Indigenous community and marks the arrival of a standout talent in contemporary fiction.
Ho-Chunk nation of Wisconsin
A brutally honest but charming look at the pain of childhood and the alienation and anxiety of early adulthood. In his memoir, we are invited to walk through the life of the author, Jim Terry, as he struggles to find security and comfort in an often hostile environment. Between the Ho-Chunk community of his Native American family in Wisconsin and his schoolmates in the Chicago suburbs, he tries in vain to fit in and eventually turns to alcohol to provide an escape from increasing loneliness and alienation. Terry also shares with the reader in exquisite detail the process by which he finds hope and gets sober, as well as the powerful experience of finding something to believe in and to belong to at the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance at Standing Rock.
an Ojibwe Indian from Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota
The received idea of Native American history -- as promulgated by books like Dee Brown's 1970 mega-bestselling Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee -- has been that American Indian history essentially ended with the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. Not only did one hundred fifty Sioux die at the hands of the U. S. Cavalry, but Native civilization did as well. Growing up Ojibwe on a reservation in Minnesota, training as an anthropologist, and researching Native life past and present for his nonfiction and novels, David Treuer has uncovered a different narrative. Because they did not disappear -- and not despite but rather because of their intense struggles to preserve their language, their traditions, their families, and their very existence -- the story of American Indians since the end of the nineteenth century to the present is one of unprecedented resourcefulness and reinvention. Treuer melds history with reportage and memoir. Tracing the tribes' distinctive cultures from first contact, he explores how the depredations of each era spawned new modes of survival.
an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation
Louise Erdrich meets Karen Russell in this deliciously strange and daringly original novel from Pulitzer Prize finalist Margaret Verble: set in 1926 Nashville, it follows a death-defying young Cherokee horse-diver who, with her companions from the Glendale Park Zoo, must get to the bottom of a mystery that spans centuries.
Wabaseemoong Independent Nations (Ojibwe)
Saul Indian Horse is a child when his family retreats into the woods. Among the lakes and the cedars, they attempt to reconnect with half-forgotten traditions and hide from the authorities who have been kidnapping Ojibway youth. But when winter approaches, Saul loses everything: his brother, his parents, his beloved grandmother--and then his home itself. Alone in the world and placed in a horrific boarding school, Saul is surrounded by violence and cruelty. At the urging of a priest, he finds a tentative salvation in hockey. Rising at dawn to practice alone, Saul proves determined and undeniably gifted. His intuition and vision are unmatched. His speed is remarkable. Together they open doors for him: away from the school, into an all-Ojibway amateur circuit, and finally within grasp of a professional career. Yet as Sauls victories mount, so do the indignities and the taunts, the racism and the hatred--the harshness of a world that will never welcome him, tied inexorably to the sport he loves.
member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe
Throughout her life, Elissa Washuta has been surrounded by cheap facsimiles of Native spiritual tools and occult trends, "starter witch kits" of sage, rose quartz, and tarot cards packaged together in paper and plastic. Following a decade of abuse, addiction, PTSD, and heavy-duty drug treatment for a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder, she felt drawn to the real spirits and powers her dispossessed and discarded ancestors knew, while she undertook necessary work to find love and meaning. In this collection of intertwined essays, she writes about land, heartbreak, and colonization, about life without the escape hatch of intoxication, and about how she became a powerful witch. She interlaces stories from her forebears with cultural artifacts from her own life-Twin Peaks, the Oregon Trail II video game, a Claymation Satan, a YouTube video of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham-to explore questions of cultural inheritance and the particular danger, as a Native woman, of relaxing into romantic love under colonial rule.
enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota Nation
Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. When justice is denied by the American legal system or the tribal council, Virgil is hired to deliver his own punishment, the kind that's hard to forget. But when heroin makes its way into the reservation and finds Virgil's nephew, his vigilantism suddenly becomes personal. He enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend and sets out to learn where the drugs are coming from, and how to make them stop. They follow a lead to Denver and find that drug cartels are rapidly expanding and forming new and terrifying alliances. And back on the reservation, a new tribal council initiative raises uncomfortable questions about money and power. As Virgil starts to link the pieces together, he must face his own demons and reclaim his Native identity. He realizes that being a Native American in the twenty-first century comes at an incredible cost.
Two-Spirit, Oji-nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation
Off the reserve and trying to find ways to live and love in the big city, Jonny Appleseed, a young Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer, becomes a cybersex worker who fetishizes himself in order to make a living. Jonny's world is a series of breakages, appendages, and linkages - and as he goes through the motions of preparing to return home for his step-father's funeral, he learns how to put together the pieces of his life. Jonny Appleseed is a unique, shattering vision of Indigenous life, full of grit, glitter, and dreams.
Urban Native of Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee descent
White Horse is a gritty, vibrant debut from Erika T. Wurth about an Indigenous woman who must face her past when she discovers a bracelet haunted by her mother's spirit. Some people are haunted in more ways than one. Old denim jackets, ripped jeans, Stephen King novels, and the occasional beer at the White Horse Lounge have defined urban Indian Kari James's life so far. But when her cousin Debby finds an old family bracelet that once belonged to Kari's mother, it inadvertently calls up both her mother's ghost and a monstrous entity, and her willful ignorance about her past is no longer sustainable... Haunted by visions of her mother and hunted by this mysterious creature, Kari must search for what happened to her mother all those years ago. Her father, permanently disabled from a car crash, can't help her. Her Auntie Squeaker seems to know something, but isn't eager to give it all up at once. Debby's anxious to help, but her controlling husband keeps getting in the way. Kari's journey towards a truth long-denied by both her family and law enforcement forces her to confront her dysfunctional relationships, her spiritual beliefs, and her desire for the one thing she's always wanted but could never have.