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Below are some recommended titles by Indigenous authors available from the MIT Libraries. Click on the book covers for more information.
Braiding Sweetgrass by
Publication Date: 2015-08-11
A New York Times Bestseller; a Washington Post Bestseller; named a "Best Essay Collection of the Decade" by Literary Hub.
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. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take us on "a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise" (Elizabeth Gilbert). Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, and as a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings--asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass--offer us gifts and lessons, even if we've forgotten how to hear their voices. In reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.
The Faster Redder Road by
Publication Date: 2015-04-15
This collection showcases the best writings of Stephen Graham Jones, whose career is developing rapidly from the noir underground to the mainstream. The Faster Redder Road features excerpts from Jones's novels--including The Last Final Girl, The Fast Red Road: A Plainsong, Not for Nothing, and The Gospel of Z--and short stories, some never before published in book form. Examining Jones's contributions to American literature as well as noir, Theodore C. Van Alst Jr.'s introduction puts Jones on the literary map.
Publication Date: 2017-03-07
Finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry.
WHEREAS her birth signaled the responsibility as mother to teach what it is to be Lakota therein the question: What did I know about being Lakota? Signaled panic, blood rush my embarrassment. What did I know of our language but pieces? Would I teach her to be pieces? Until a friend comforted, Don't worry, you and your daughter will learn together. Today she stood sunlight on her shoulders lean and straight to share a song in Diné, her father's language. To sing she motions simultaneously with her hands; I watch her be in multiple musics. --from "WHEREAS Statements"
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.
History & Nonfiction
Peace, Power, Righteousness by
This visionary manifesto, first published in 1999, has significantly improved our understanding of First Nations' issues. Taiaiake Alfred calls for the indigenous peoples of North America to move beyond their 500-year history of pain, loss, and colonization, and move forward to the reality ofself-determination. A leading Kanien'kehaka scholar and activist with intimate knowledge of both Native and Western traditions of thought, Alfred is uniquely placed to write this inspiring book. His account of the history and future of the indigenous peoples of North America is at once a bold andforceful critique of Indigenous leaders and politics, and a sensitive reflection on the traumas of colonization that shape our existence.This new edition of Alfred's important manifesto is thoroughly updated in the context of current issues related to government policy and First Nations politics today. In addition to new examples of indigenous-state relations, it includes the latest court cases and updated evaluations of key negotiations over land and self-government.
Custer Died for Your Sins by
In his new preface to this paperback edition, the author observes, "The Indian world has changed so substantially since the first publication of this book that some things contained in it seem new again." Indeed, it seems that each generation of whites and Indians will have to read and reread Vine Deloria’s Manifesto for some time to come, before we absorb his special, ironic Indian point of view and what he tells us, with a great deal of humor, about U.S. race relations, federal bureaucracies, Christian churches, and social scientists.
Our Beloved Kin by
Awarded the 2019 Bancroft Prize, the Western History Association's 2019 John C. Ewers Book Award, and the Donald L. Fixico Award. With rigorous original scholarship and creative narration, Lisa Brooks recovers a complex picture of war, captivity, and Native resistance during the "First Indian War" (later named King Philip's War) by relaying the stories of Weetamoo, a female Wampanoag leader, and James Printer, a Nipmuc scholar, whose stories converge in the captivity of Mary Rowlandson. Through both a narrow focus on Weetamoo, Printer, and their network of relations, and a far broader scope that includes vast Indigenous geographies, Brooks leads us to a new understanding of the history of colonial New England and of American origins. Brooks's pathbreaking scholarship is grounded not just in extensive archival research but also in the land and communities of Native New England, reading the actions of actors during the seventeenth century alongside an analysis of the landscape and interpretations informed by tribal history.
An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by
2015 Recipient of the American Book Award. Today in the United States, there are more than 500 federally recognized Indigenous nations comprising nearly 3 million people, descendants of the 15 million Native people who once inhabited this land. The centuries-long genocidal program of the US settler-colonial regimen has largely been omitted from history. Now, for the first time, acclaimed historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz offers a history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the US empire. In An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, Dunbar-Ortiz adroitly challenges the founding myth of the United States and shows how policy against the Indigenous peoples was colonialist and designed to seize the territories of the original inhabitants, displacing or eliminating them. Spanning more than 400 years, this classic bottom-up peoples' history radically reframes US history and explodes the silences that have haunted our national narrative. An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States is a 2015 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature.
Poetry & Fiction
The great Native American Novel of a battered veteran returning home to heal his mind and spirit More than thirty-five years since its original publication, Ceremony remains one of the most profound and moving works of Native American literature, a novel that is itself a ceremony of healing. Tayo, a World War II veteran of mixed ancestry, returns to the Laguna Pueblo Reservation. He is deeply scarred by his experience as a prisoner of the Japanese and further wounded by the rejection he encounters from his people. Only by immersing himself in the Indian past can he begin to regain the peace that was taken from him.
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction Finalist for the 2017 PEN Faulkner Award In this literary masterwork, Louise Erdrich, the bestselling author of the National Book Award-winning The Round House and the Pulitzer Prize nominee The Plague of Doves wields her breathtaking narrative magic in an emotionally haunting contemporary tale of a tragic accident, a demand for justice, and a profound act of atonement with ancient roots in Native American culture.
Nature Poem by
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.
In Mad Love and War by
Joy Harjo is a powerful voice for her Creek (Muscogee) tribe ("a stolen people in a stolen land"), for other oppressed people, and for herself. Her poems, both sacred and secular, are written with the passions of anger, grief, and love, at once tender and furious. They are rooted in the land; they are one with the deer and the fox, the hawk and the eagle, the sun, moon, and wind, and the seasons - "spring/ was lean and hungry with he hope of children and corn." There are enemies here, also lovers; there are ghost dancers, ancestors old and new, who rise again "to walk in shoes of fire."Indeed, fire and its aftermath is a constant image in the burning book. Skies are"incendiary"; the "smoke of dawn" turns enemies into ashes: "I am fire eaten by wind." "Your fire scorched/ my lips." "I am lighting the fire that crawls from my spine/ to the gods with a coal from my sister's flame."But the spirit of this book is not consumed. It is not limited by mad love or war, and"there is something larger than the memory/ of a dispossessed people." That something larger is, for example, revolution, freedom, birth.
One Good Story, That One by
One Good Story, That One is a collection steeped in native oral tradition and shot through with Thomas King's special brand of wit and comic imagination. These highly acclaimed stories conjure up Native and Judeo-Christian myths, present-day pop culture, and literature while mixing in just the right amount of perception and experience.