Exploring Native American Perspectives

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Keepunumuk – Weeachuman’s Thanksgiving Story

by Danielle Greendeer, Anthony Perry, and Alexis Bunten

Summary: Consider sharing this story with your children.  It is a more accurate accounting of what many Americans call Thanksgiving and Native Americans refer to as a day of mourning.

Recommendation: It is time to refresh this story, allowing the First Peoples’ perspective to be told.  It is a more accurate accounting of the time leading up to the feast shared by the New People and First People.  By teaching children this story a new interaction can be cultivated between our cultures that will bring greater understanding to our collective future by respecting both.  This is a children’s book with beautiful illustrations and a wonderfully told story from the Native American perspective.

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Braiding Sweetgrass

by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Summary: As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, the author embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers.

Recommendation: I have recently downloaded this book from the Cloud Library.  It is narrated by the author, an indigenous scientist and acclaimed botanist.  Her soothing voice brings life to the stories of indigenous peoples’ understanding of the world around us.  Her knowledge coupled with the stories of the Native American perspective has helped me cultivate a deeper understanding of my personal world-view.  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.

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Ghost Fox

by James Houston

Summary: Kidnapped by the Abenaki Indians in colonial times, sixteen-year-old Sarah Wells gradually adopts the Abenaki way of life and must eventually choose between it and returning to the life from which she was taken.

Recommendation: I first read this book in 1977, when it was originally published.  At 17, I was captivated by the story and have since read it several times.  It is one of my all time favorite books.  Since this post is focused on Native American writing, I wanted to include a novel.  The book brings life to the settlers interactions with Native Americans.  It is a story of hardship, love, loss and learning to embrace where you truly belong.

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The Native American Indian People: Sovereignty and Land Rights

by Elaine Both Raper

Summary: This book presents an account of many of the issues surrounding the concept of sovereignty and its application to the legal rights of the Native Americans in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Recommendation: I recently attended a very interesting meeting on this topic at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. This experience, compelled me to include a book that addresses sovereignty and land rights.  These issues need attention and treaty responsibility needs recognition.  If this subject interests you, there are many local organizations researching this topic. Land is an integral part of any culture.  A more accurate history of these issues need to be acknowledged so sustainable solutions can be collectively reached.

About the author

Smithton Public Library

The Smithton Public Library District is located in southern Illinois, near St. Louis, MO. The library serves nearly 5,000 residents. We hope you visit us soon!