A Wynk, a Blynk, and a Nod to Books

A Wynk, a Blynk, and a Nod to Books about the Native Americans






November is Native American Heritage Month. It’s a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. Heritage Month also provides an opportunity to educate the general public about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges

Books about Native Americans

01birchbarkThe Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich

This novel tells the story of a seven year old Native American girl from the Ojibwa tribe. The story is set on an island in Lake Superior in 1847 and includes many fascinating details of traditional Ojibwa life.



02buffalobirdgirlBuffalo Bird Girl by S.D. Nelson

This picture book biography tells the childhood story of a Hidatsa Indian woman born around 1839. The illustrations are a mix of acrylic paintings, pencil drawings, and photographs, and together they round out an exquisitely designed picture book. The author/illustrator is actually a member of the Standing Rock Sioux/Lakota tribe of the Dakotas.


03hiawathaHiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson, illus. by David Shannon

Robertson tells the story of Hiawatha, the legendary historical figure who helped form the Great Iroquois Nation. The message about uniting the tribes inspired the authors of the U.S. Constitution. The author is of Mohawk and Cayuga heritage. Shannon’s oil paintings are handsome and expressive. A cd featuring an original song written and performed by the author is included with the book.


04hunterspromiseThe Hunter’s Promise: An Abenaki Tale by Joseph Bruchac, illus. by Bill Farnsworth

Bruchac, a Native American author and storyteller, has written more than 120 books for both children and adults. In the author’s own words, this is “a tale about loyalty and trust – keeping a promise to one’s family.” Bruchac’s original retelling also centers on humans’ relationship with nature.


05islandbluedolphinsIsland of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

This classic work of children’s literature won the Newbery Medal in 1961. According to history, a young Indian girl, Karana, courageous and self-reliant, who lived alone on an isolated island off the coast of California in the early 1800’s for nearly eighteen years. This beautifully written novel is her story.


06kayaMeet Kaya: An American Girl by Janet Shaw, illus. by Bill Farnsworth

Part of the American Girl series, this story is set in 1764 and centers on a young Nez Perce Indian girl. Kaya and her family reunite with other Nez Perce Indians in the Pacific Northwest to fish for the red salmon. As with others in the American Girls collection, historical notes are included as well.


07southwestNative Nations of the Southwest by Barbara Krasner

This is one of several in the newly published Native Nations of North America series. This particular title introduces the main native nations of the southwestern United States. The historical significance of each nation as well as cultural highlights and contemporary life are all examined. Photographs accompany the text.


08pilgrimsOne Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims by B.G. Hennessy, illus. by Lynne Cravath 

The familiar counting rhyme becomes more specific when two cultures, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag, meet to hold a thanksgiving feast. The bright, autumn-colored cartoonlike illustrations depict the work both the Pilgrims and Native Americans do to grow and gather food. An author’s note provides historical information.


09redbirdRed Bird Sings by Gina Capaldi & Q.L. Pearce, illus. by Gina Capaldi

This is the story of Native American musician, author and activist Zitkala-Sa, whose name means Red Bird. This biography was adapted from three semiautobiographical stories that she wrote for the Atlantic Monthly in the early 1900’s. Zitkala-Sa, also known as Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, was born in 1876 on the Yankton Sioux reservation in South Dakota. She was educated at an Indian boarding school in Indiana, where she blossomed as a musician, writer, and talented public speaker. She used her talents to support her greater goal, which was fighting for civil liberties for Native Americans and women. The story is very compelling, and the mixed–media illustrations, which enhance the themes of grace and strength, are just as moving.

10redcloudRed Cloud’s War: Brave Eagle’s Account of the Fetterman Fight by Paul Goble

On December 21, 1866, the Ogala Sioux, led by Chief Red Cloud ambushed the troops of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry under the command of Captain William Fetterman. There were no survivors. The story is told in the words of 19 year old Brave Eagle, a fictional character.  Publication of this title marks the 150th anniversary of Red Cloud’s War.

11saltSalt by Helen Frost

This novel in verse, which is Frost’s typical style, tells the story of a friendship between two twelve year old boys, one Native American and one American, on the Indiana frontier during the War of 1812.


12tallchiefTallchief: America’s Prima Ballerina by Maria Tallchief with Rosemary Wells, illus. by Gary Kelley

Maria Tallchief describes her childhood on an Osage reservation and her journey to become America’s first major prima ballerina and the first Native American to hold the rank. She co-founded the New York City Ballet in 1946. The illustrator uses pastels to capture the drama of the dance.

13artsTraditional Native American Arts & Activities by Arlette N. Braman

Former teacher, Braman, has included easy-to-follow projects, recipes, and games unique to the heritage of Native Americans. Lots of factual information is included as well.


14sacagaweaWhat’s Your Story, Sacagawea by Ellen Labrecque, illus. by Doug Jones

Cub Reporter interviews Sacagawea to find out how she bravely guided a group of explorers across the American Northwest and how she helped them communicate with people who already lived in the area. This is part of a new series, Cub Reporter Meets Famous Americans.


 15sacajeweaWomen Who Broke the Rules: Sacajawea by Kathleen Krull, illus. by Matt Collins

This title is part of a new series about women whose lives helped shape the United States. Here Sacajawea’s unique contributions to the Lewis and Clark expedition are examined. History and humor are intertwined in this visually appealing

Maria Tallchief describes her childhood on an Osage reservation and her journey to become America’s first major prima ballerina and the first Native American to hold the rank. She co-founded the New York City Ballet in 1946. The illustrator uses pastels to capture the drama of the dance.

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