BASIC NATIVE AMERICAN BOOKS

A list of books if you want to learn more about general Native American history and ideas. Put together by me (Brook Thompson), Rachel Black Elk, and Melanin Mvskoke. Note that I have not personally read every one of these books. Please purchase books from independent or local bookstores when available.

An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States

by Kyle T. Mays

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"Beginning with pre-Revolutionary America and moving into the movement for Black lives and contemporary Indigenous activism, Afro-Indigenous historian Kyle T. Mays argues that the foundations of the US are rooted in antiblackness and settler colonialism, and that these parallel oppressions continue into the present. He explores how Black and Indigenous peoples have always resisted and struggled for freedom, sometimes together, and sometimes apart. Whether to end African enslavement and Indigenous removal or eradicate capitalism and colonialism, Mays show how the fervor of Black and Indigenous peoples calls for justice have consistently sought to uproot white supremacy.

Mays uses a wide-array of historical activists and pop culture icons, “sacred” texts, and foundational texts like the Declaration of Independence and Democracy in America. He covers the civil rights movement and freedom struggles of the 1960s and 1970s, and explores current debates around the use of Native American imagery and the cultural appropriation of Black culture. Mays compels us to rethink both our history as well as contemporary debates and to imagine the powerful possibilities of Afro-Indigenous solidarity."

 

Author: Kyle T. Mays is an Afro-Indigenous (Saginaw Chippewa) writer and scholar of US history, urban studies, race relations, and contemporary popular culture. He is an Assistant Professor of African American Studies, American Indian Studies, and History at the University of California, Los Angeles

American Indians, American justice

by Vine Deloria Jr.

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"Baffled by the stereotypes presented by Hollywood and much historical fiction, many other Americans find the contemporary American Indian an enigma. Compounding their confusion is the highly publicized struggle of the contemporary Indian for self-determination, lost land, cultural preservation, and fundamental human rights—a struggle dramatized both by public acts of protest and by precedent-setting legal actions. More and more, the battles of American Indians are fought—and won—in the political arena and the courts.

American Indians, American Justice explores the complexities of the present Indian situation, particularly with regard to legal and political rights. It is the first book to present an overview of federal Indian law in language readably accessible to the layperson. Remarkably comprehensive, it is destined to become a standard sourcebook for all concerned with the plight of the contemporary Indian.

 

Beginning with an examination of the historical relationship of Indians and the courts, the authors describe how tribal courts developed and operate today, and how they relate to federal and state governments. They define such key legal concepts as tribal sovereignty and Indian Country. By comparing and contrasting the workings of Indian and non-Indian legal institutions, the authors illustrate how Indian tribes have adapted their customs, values, and institutions to the demands of the modern world. Describing the activities of attorneys and Indian advocates in asserting and defending Indian rights, they identify the difficulties typically faced by Indians in the criminal and civil legal arenas and explore the public policy and legal rights of Indians as regards citizenship, voting rights, religious freedom, and basic governmental services."

Author:

"Vine Deloria Jr. was born in 1933, in Martin, South Dakota, near the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. His father transferred his and his children's tribal membership from the Yankton Sioux to Standing Rock. From 1964 to 1967, he served as executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, increasing tribal membership from 19 to 156. Beginning in 1977, he was a board member of the National Museum of the American Indian, which now has buildings in both New York City and in Washington, DC, on the Mall."

The Great Vanishing Act: Blood Quantum and the Future of Native Nations 

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by Norbert S. Hill Jr. & Kathleen Ratteree 

"The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 was the US government’s attempt to define who “Indians” were. Among the criteria the act set was a blood quantum, which declared that “Indians” were "all other persons of one-half or more Indian blood". Today, many tribes wrestle with the legacy of blood quantum and “Indian” identity, as they work to manage tribal enrollment and social services. As the bloodlines grow increasingly diluted, within a few generation, recognized tribes might legally disappear. Through essays, personal stories, case studies, satire, and poetry, The Great Vanishing Act brings together writers from around the world to explore the biological and cultural metaphor of blood quantum, the most critical issue facing Indigenous populations in the twenty-first century."

 

Author:     
Norbert Hill, Jr., an enrolled member of the Oneida tribe, worked at the University of Wisconsin--Green Bay as an advisor and counselor 1972-1977. He talks about diversity efforts in the early days of UW-Green Bay, Native American students, liaison work with native communities, programming events for the school, relations with mentors, and his relation with Chancellor Weidner.  After leaving UW-Green Bay in 1977, he had a career as a program director at a couple of schools in Colorado and most importantly as long-time director of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). He returned to Wisconsin in 2007 as a vice president for the College of Menominee Nation and then as Education Director for the Oneida tribe. 

The Militarization of Indian Country

by Winona LaDuke & Sean Aaron Cruz 

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"When it became public that Osama bin Laden’s death was announced with the phrase “Geronimo, EKIA!” many Native people, including Geronimo’s descendants, were insulted to discover that the name of a Native patriot was used as a code name for a world-class terrorist. Geronimo descendant Harlyn Geronimo explained, “Obviously to equate Geronimo with Osama bin Laden is an unpardonable slander of Native America and its most famous leader.” The Militarization of Indian Country illuminates the historical context of these negative stereotypes, the long political and economic relationship between the military and Native America, and the environmental and social consequences. This book addresses the impact that the U.S. military has had on Native peoples, lands, and cultures. From the use of Native names to the outright poisoning of Native peoples for testing, the U.S. military’s exploitation of Indian country is unparalleled and ongoing."

 

Author: Winona LaDuke is an American economist, environmentalist, writer and industrial hemp grower. Her father was from the Ojibwe White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, and her mother of Jewish European ancestry from The Bronx, New York. 

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States 

by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

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"Today in the United States, there are more than five hundred federally recognized Indigenous nations comprising nearly three million people, descendants of the fifteen 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-Ortizoffers 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.

 

With growing support for movements such as the campaign to abolish Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day and the Dakota Access Pipeline protest led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States is an essential resource providing historical threads that are crucial for understanding the present. 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. And as Dunbar-Ortiz reveals, this policy was praised in popular culture, through writers like James Fenimore Cooper and Walt Whitman, and in the highest offices of government and the military. Shockingly, as the genocidal policy reached its zenith under President Andrew Jackson, its ruthlessness was best articulated by US Army general Thomas S. Jesup, who, in 1836, wrote of the Seminoles: “The country can be rid of them only by exterminating them.”


Spanning more than four hundred years, this classic bottom-up peoples’ history radically reframes US history and explodes the silences that have haunted our national narrative."

Author:

"Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in Central Oklahoma, the daughter of a sharecropper of Scots-Irish ancestry and a mother that Dunbar believes to have been partially Native American, although her mother never claimed to be Native and Dunbar-Ortiz grew up without any Native heritage."

LOOK FORWARD TO MORE BOOK LISTS COMING SOON

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Sea Pollution

Water Issues

Books that are esstienal in understanding the United States relationship with water, especially in California and with salmon.

At the Library

Higher Education

Intersection of Indigenous research methods within western academia.

Outdoor Book Club

General Race Studies Books

Books I and friends found useful when learning about race and ethnicity from a wider lens than just Native studies but still applicable.

Tomatillo Plant

Traditional Ecological Knowledge

AKA TEK, from Indigenous view points.

Native Drums

West Coast Natvie Studies

Histories of Natives in California and Oregon.

All Gender Restroom

Gender Studies

From Native and US perspectives. The intersection of Indigeneity with feminism and gender politics. 

Reading a Book

Native Childrens Books

Books written by and/or for Natives with tots and kids in mind. 

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