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November is Native American Heritage Month!

November 1, 2020 at 5:21 PM by Alejandria Galarza

Did you know there are 574 federally recognized Tribal Nations, each with their own rich culture and traditions? This November, curl up with a good book and learn about their diverse traditions through stories created by indigenous authors. 

KPL is honored to curate a list of books and resources for your whole family. From beautifully illustrated picture books to vibrant young adult graphic novels, there is something for everyone. Additionally, if you stop by one of the KPL’s library branches in the month of November, check out our display of Indigenous Children’s Book Authors, located in our Children’s Areas. Be sure to tell a librarian one fact you learned to get a surprise! 

If you’re interested in diving deeper into Native American history and culture, check out the Native American Heritage Month website, powered by the Library of Congress. It compiles exhibits from the Smithsonian, National Archives, National Park Services and more! 



Bowwow Powwow by Brenda J. Child

A powwow with dancing dogs? Windy Girl and her best canine friend Itchy, hop into Uncle’s pickup and head to a powwow. As the dancing, singing, and celebration continue late into the night, Windy dreams up a bowwow powwow complete with dancing dogs. 


Fry Bread: a Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard

What is fry bread? This beautiful picture book explores fry bread and it’s tradition in Native American culture. Come for the fry bread, stay for the gorgeous illustrations. 


We are Grateful: otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell

Otsaliheliga is a Cherokee word to express gratitude. We are Grateful provides a glimpse at modern Native American life through a year of celebrations with a Cherokee family.


Birdsong by Julie Flett

When Katherena moves to the country, she can’t help but miss her old home. Soon she meets her elderly neighbor and, as they teach each other new things, a friendship blossoms. 


A Day with Yayah by Nicola I. Campbell

A Day with Yayah is a peek into a day spent in nature, gathering herbs and mushrooms. As they work, grandmother teaches her language and knowledge to the younger generations. 




I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day 

Suggested for Grades Grade 3-6

12-year-old Edie has always known her Native American mother was adopted and raised by a white family. But when she discovers a treasure trove of letters and photographs of a woman named Edith, who looks exactly like Edie, she finds herself in the middle of a family mystery that needs unraveling. Who is Edith Graham? 


Stone River Crossing by Tim Tingle

Suggested for Grades 3-7

Martha Tom has been told not to cross the Bok Chitto River as it’s the only border between the Choctaw Nation and a slave-owning plantation. And the slave owners could catch her too. But her trip across the river brings her a friendship with Lil Mo, a boy who is enslaved. When Lil Mo discovers his family is about to be separated, Martha Tom has the answer: escape across the river into freedom. 


Two Roads by Joseph Bruchac

Suggested for Grades 4-8

In this Depression-era tale, 12-year-old Cal enjoys being a hobo with his father. But one day, Cal discovers that his Pop is actually Creek and planning to head to Washington D.C. to protest with other veterans. While Pop is gone, Cal must attend the Challagi Indian Boarding School. The school is often tough, but it’s also the first time Cal has met other Native kids. 


I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis 

Suggested for Grades 4-6

Irene is 8 years-old when a man shows up at her and her front door and demands she be taken to the nearby residential school as a ward of the government. At the school, Irene is scared and homesick. She tries to hold onto the things that make her unique, but it’s hard when school doesn’t allow them to use names and assigns them numbers. 

This fictional book is based on the true story of Dupuis’ grandmother and shares a dark piece of Canada’s history. 


In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III

Suggested for Grades 4-8

11-year-old Jimmy McLean is three-quarters Lakoa and one-quarter white. But he is mercilessly teased for his light brown hair and blue eyes. To teach him about his heritage, Jimmy’s grandfather takes him on a journey to visit the sites and share stories that were important to the life of Crazy Horse. 


Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis

Suggested for Grades 4-7

In 1957, after the Umpqua nation is legally terminated, Regina and her family enroll in the Indian Relocation Program and find themselves in Los Angeles. As she struggles with what this means for her identity, Regina makes new friends and finds ways to hold onto her culture in the big city. 


Speaking Our Truth: a Journey of Reconciliation by Monique Gray Smith

Suggested for Grades 4-7, Nonfiction 

In this nonfiction title, Monique Gray Smith weaves together historical events, movements and laws related to the treatment of indigenous people in Canada. She also connects them to the impact felt generations later. More than just a history book, Speaking Our Truth also inspires young people to take action. 



Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac

Grades 5 & up

Ned Begay leaves his Navajo nation to attend a boarding school, where he learns English and his language is forbidden. When he enlists in the U.S. Marines during World War II and becomes a code talker, his native language is used over the airwaves to share secret information. This is a great book for those interested in historical fiction stories.


Apple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley

Suggested for Grades 6 & up

In this coming-of-age story, 15 year-old Apple struggles with what it means to live in two worlds. Apple is Native, but is being raised by a nonindigenous family. One summer, she is sent to live on the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Reservation with grandparents she doesn’t know. Apple must learn to bridge her two identities and figure out who she is. 


Fire Starters by Jen Storm

Suggested for Grades 6 & up

In this graphic novel, Ron and Ben find themselves wrongly accused of arson after a gas station on Agamiing Reserve burns. As the sheriff’s son points the finger at them, an investigation begins and the truth is slowly revealed.


Surviving the City Vol. 1 by Tasha Spillett-Sumner

Suggested for Grades 7 & up

Best friends Miikwan and Dez have had to grow up navigating what it means to be indigenous in a city. When Dez’s grandmother becomes too ill to continue caring for her, Dez becomes anxious about her future and disappears. Miikwan, whose own mother went missing, fears the worst. The graphic novel also contains factual information about the murdered and missing indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people. 


Give Me Some Truth by Eric Gansworth

Suggested for Grades 9 & up

On the Tuscarora Reservation, Carson dreams of starting a band and getting off the reservation. At the same time Maggi moves back to the reservation and would rather be creating her own high-concept artwork than the traditional beadwork her family sells. As both of them navigate the issues in their lives, tensions rise between the reservation and surrounding communities. 

Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Suggested for Grades 9 & up

After moving to Kansas, senior Louise begins working on the school newspaper and her brother, Hughie, wins a role in the high school production of Wizard of Oz. But trouble comes when a disapproving group of parents voice their opposition to Hughie and other students of color being cast in the school play. 


Dreaming in Indian: contemporary Native American Voices 

Suggested for Grades 6 & up, Nonfiction

This gorgeous non-fiction work introduces the writing of 64 indigenous young people. Hear from a hip-hop dancer, activist, comic book creator, makeup artist and more as they share who they are with their own artwork. 


An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, adapted by Debbie Reese & Jean Mendoza, Nonfiction

Suggested for Grades 9 & up

This is an adaptation of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (2014) for younger audiences. This narrative non-fiction book looks at U.S. history through an Indigenous lens. Notes offer critical thinking activities and more information. An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People is a great resource for anyone interested in U.S. history.