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Native American Heritage Month: Literature: Home

This guide was created as the library's contribution to the university's celebration of Native American Heritage Month 2020.

Native American Heritage: More than a Month

The Medicine Wheel

The Medicine Wheel

Ojibwe Medicine Wheel

Ojibwe stone medicine wheel

The Medicine Wheel, sometimes known as the Sacred Hoop, has been used by generations of various Native American tribes for health and healing. It embodies the Four Directions, as well as Father Sky, Mother Earth, and Spirit Tree—all of which symbolize dimensions of health and the cycles of life.”

"The Medicine Wheel can take many different forms. It can be an artwork such as artifact or painting, or it can be a physical construction on the land. Hundreds or even thousands of Medicine Wheels have been built on Native lands in North America over the last several centuries.”

“Different tribes interpret the Medicine Wheel differently. Each of the Four Directions (East, South, West, and North) is typically represented by a distinctive color, such as black, red, yellow, and white, which for some stands for the human races.”

The Directions can also represent stages of life, seasons, aspects of life (spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical), elements of nature, animals, or ceremonial plants.

Tribal Nations Map

Native American Tribal Map

Cropped local area of Native Tribal Map

This is just part of the bigger picture!
For the full map, designed by Aaron Carapella, follow the linked thumbnail above.

AVON Resources

AVON Video Database

Thousands of videos about Native American culture, history, and more are available on the AVON database from Alexander Street Press!

Avon screenshot

Heritage Quest Online

Heritage Quest Online

According to librarian Olivia Poulton:
You can search the U.S. Indian Census Rolls to trace your family members. My cousin, Mitchell Red Cloud Jr, was a Congressional Medal of Honor Winner for his heroism in Korea. A ship was even named after him. I used him as an example of how we can use our library’s resources to research our connections to the past. We are related through the Decorah line from my Great Great Grandmother Sadie Decorah Red Eagle. My great grandmother was Maud Red Eagle who was born after Uncle Guy who you can see below Sadie in the roll below. Above that, you can see Mitchell’s name highlighted.

Follow image links to enlarge.

Database entry for census rollUS Indian census roll

More about Cpl. Mitchell Red Cloud Jr.

Photograph of Mitchell Red Cloud in military uniform

CAMP RED CLOUD -- Camp Red Cloud, the U.S. Army installation in Uijeongbu that serves as headquarters for the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea, is named for Cpl. Mitchell Red Cloud Jr., the Soldier whose fight-to-the-death valor in the Korean War was recognized with a posthumous Medal of Honor.

Red Cloud was killed in action against Chinese forces in North Korea in November, 1950, and was awarded the medal for "dauntless courage and gallant self-sacrifice." He was from Wisconsin, a Native-American of the Ho-Chunk tribe, also known as the Winnebago, and a veteran of World War II combat in the Pacific. He saw action as a Marine on Guadalcanal and Okinawa. He was a sergeant when he left the Marines after World War II, but in 1948 returned to active duty, enlisting in the Army.

Photograph of large shipThe USNS Red Cloud slides down the ways at NASSCO Ship Yard in San Diego after being christened by Anita Red Cloud and Marilyn Clemins on Aug. 7, 1999. The ship is named after Medal of Honor winner Cpl. Mitchell Red Cloud Jr., U.S. Army.
(U.S. Navy)

Unsettling Truths

Unsettling TruthsYou cannot discover lands already inhabited. 

In this prophetic blend of history, theology, and cultural commentary, Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah reveal the damaging effects of the "Doctrine of Discovery," which institutionalized American triumphalism and white supremacy. This book calls our nation and churches to a truth-telling that will expose past injustices and open the door to conciliation and true community.

-- Provided by the publisher

Where the Dead Sit Talking

Set in rural Oklahoma during the late 1980s, Brandon Hobson’s Where the Dead Sit Talking is a stunning and lyrical Native American coming-of-age story. With his single mother in jail, Sequoyah, a fifteen-year-old Cherokee boy, is placed in foster care with the Troutt family. Literally and figuratively scarred by his mother’s years of substance abuse, Sequoyah keeps mostly to himself, living with his emotions pressed deep below the surface.

At least until he meets seventeen-year-old Rosemary, a troubled artist who also lives with the family. Sequoyah and Rosemary bond over their shared Native American background and tumultuous paths through the foster care system, but as Sequoyah’s feelings toward Rosemary deepen, the precariousness of their lives and the scars of their pasts threaten to undo them both.

--Provided by the publisher

Author Brandon Hobson

photo of Brandon Hobson

Before Yellowstone

Before Yellowstone

Since 1872, visitors have flocked to Yellowstone National Park to gaze in awe at its dramatic geysers, stunning mountains, and impressive wildlife. Yet more than a century of archaeological research shows that the wild landscape has a long history of human presence. In fact, Native American people have hunted bison and bighorn sheep, fished for cutthroat trout, and gathered bitterroot and camas bulbs here for at least 11,000 years, and twenty-six tribes claim cultural association with Yellowstone today.

-Provided by the publisher

There, There

There, There"With a literary authority rare in a debut novel, it places Native American voices front and center before readers' eyes." —NPR/Fresh Air

One of The New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year and winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award, Tommy Orange's wondrous and shattering bestselling novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. Among them is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, pulling his life together after his uncle's death and working at the powwow to honor his memory.

Fourteen-year-old Orvil, coming to perform traditional dance for the very first time. Together, this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American—grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism. Hailed as an instant classic, There There is at once poignant and unflinching, utterly contemporary and truly unforgettable.

--Provided by the publisher

Author Tommy Orange

Photo of Tommy Orange

The Other Movement

The Other Movement

The Other Movement: Indian Rights and Civil Rights in the Deep South examines the most visible outcome of the Southern Indian Rights Movement: state Indian affairs commissions.

In recalling political activism in the post-World War II South, rarely does one consider the political activities of American Indians as they responded to desegregation, the passing of the Civil Rights Acts, and the restructuring of the American political party system. Native leaders and activists
across the South created a social and political movement all their own, which drew public attention to the problems of discrimination,
poverty, unemployment, low educational attainment, and poor living conditions in tribal communities.

This book looks specifically at Alabama and Louisiana, places of intensive political activity during the civil rights era and increasing Indian visibility and tribal reorganization in the decades that followed.

--Provided by the publisher

Killers of the Flower Moon


In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath
their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe. Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed o. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. One of her relatives was shot. Another was poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more Osage were dying under mysterious circumstances, and many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll rose, the newly created FBI took up the case, and the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including a Native American agent who infiltrated the region, and together with the Osage began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.

--Provided by the publisher