We Suggest: Indigenous Peoples’ Day titles for adults

By Collection Management Librarian Kathy Sexton

We acknowledge that Oak Park is situated on the ancestral land of the Bodewamiadkiwen (Potawatomi), Myaamia (Miami), Oceti Sakowin, Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), and Peoria. We honor them and thank them for their stewardship of this land.

In 2017, the Village of Oak Park Board of Trustees approved a proclamation declaring the second Monday in October Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This day recognizes that Native peoples were the first inhabitants of North America and celebrates their history, traditions, and stories.

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Celebrate with a thought-provoking read

The Beadworkers: Stories by Beth H. Piatote

Why you should try it: Combining poetry, prose, and verse, this collection is perfect for folks who love nontraditional narratives. It also features the Nez Pearce language and includes lots of informative footnotes. 

Description: This brilliant debut collection of stories, set in the landscapes and lifeworlds of the Native Northwest, draws on indigenous aesthetics and forms to offer a powerful, sustaining vision of Native life in the Americas.

Stream & download with: Hoopla (ebook)

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Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline

Why you should try it: If you love legend and fairy tale retellings, and don’t mind some horror mixed in, this is the book for you.

Description: Inspired by the Canadian Métis legend of the Rogarou, a U.S. debut finds a woman reconnecting with her heritage when her missing husband reappears in the form of a charismatic preacher who does not recognize her.

Stream & download with: Media on Demand & Libby (ebook)

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The Yield by Tara June Winch

Why you should try it: Already a bestseller in Australia, this novel combines forgotten Aboriginal history and a heartbreaking story about the meaning of home.

Description: A young Australian woman searches for her grandfather’s dictionary, the key to halting a mining company from destroying her family’s home and ancestral land.

Stream & download with: Media on Demand & Libby (ebook)

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Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Why you should try it: This new series is perfect for fans of N.K. Jemisin, George R.R. Martin, epic fantasy, and excellent worldbuilding.

Description: A trilogy debut that is inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas and follows the unbalancing of the holy city of Tova amid a fateful solstice eclipse.

Stream & download with: Media on Demand & Libby (ebook)

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When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through edited by Joy Harjo

Why you should try it: I cannot say it any better than the Booklist review, “[I]f there’s one poetry anthology that belongs on every bookshelf in this country called America, it’s this one.”

Description: 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. 

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Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s by Tiffany Midge

Why you should try it: Standing Rock Sioux author Midge, writes hard hitting yet hilarious essays. 

Description: Provides a powerful and inviting collection of the author’s musings on life, politics and identity as a Native woman in America.

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A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott

Why you should try it: In her debut, Elliott expertly combines her personal history with cultural criticism. 

Description: The Mohawk phrase for depression can be roughly translated to “a mind spread out on the ground.” Alicia Elliott explores how apt a description that is for the ongoing effects of personal, intergenerational, and colonial traumas she and so many Native people have experienced. 

Stream & download with: Hoopla (digital audiobook)

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A History of My Brief Body by Billy-Ray Belcourt

Why you should try it: If you like poetic and philosophical writing that meanders thoughtfully, try this from Canada’s first First Nations Rhodes Scholar. 

Description: This new essay collection on grief, colonial violence, joy, love and queerness from the youngest ever winner of the Griffin Prize touches upon his personal history and demonstrates the power of words to both devastate and console us.

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Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Why you should try it: This newly illustrated edition braids together (see what I did there) science, nature, and the importance of gratitude. 

Description: As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers.

Stream & download with: Hoopla (ebook, digital audiobook), Media on Demand & Libby (digital audiobook)

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As Long As Grass Grows by Dina Gilio-Whitaker

Why you should try it: This book is a must for anyone interested in environmental justice and Native rights.

Description: Interrogating the concept of environmental justice in the U.S. as it relates to Indigenous peoples and ways the mainstream environmental movement has been an impediment to effective organizing and allyship.

Stream & download with: Media on Demand & Libby (ebook)

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Paying the Land by Joe Sacco

Why you should try it: Joe Sacco is a master of comics journalism partly because he knows to keep himself in the background, listen, and let the Dene people speak for themselves. 

Description: The Dene have lived in the vast Mackenzie River Valley since time immemorial, by their account. To the Dene, the land owns them, not the other way around, and it is central to their livelihood and very way of being. But the subarctic Canadian Northwest Territories are home to valuable resources, including oil, gas, and diamonds. In Paying the Land, Joe Sacco travels the frozen North to reveal a people in conflict over the costs and benefits of development.

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An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Why you should try it: Provides an excellent introduction, and further reading, to the genocide of Native Americans and its role in American mythology. 

Description: 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. 

Stream & download with: Media on Demand & Libby (ebook)

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Librarian Kathy Sexton

About Kathy

Kathy is a Collection Management Librarian who loves reading, sharing, and talking about books. Her missions in life are to: create communities of readers, convince folks that her official title should be “Book Pusher,” and refute that “disco” is a dirty word.

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