Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday that celebrates and honors Native American peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is celebrated across the United States on the second Monday in October, and is an official city and state holiday in various locations.
In April 2020, based upon a request from Forest Park parents through the Citizen’s Advisory Council, District 91 also changed the name of the official holiday from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
To learn more check out these resources and suggested books.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Rethinking How We Celebrate American History
Why more people are celebrating Indigenous People’s Day
See a full list of books for kids here.
Heart Berries:a memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot (2018)
“Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman’s coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot’s mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father-an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist-who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame. Mailhot trusts the reader to understand that memory isn’t exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept. Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world.”– Provided by publisher.
Braiding sweetgrass: indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer (2013)
“An inspired weaving of indigenous knowledge, plant science, and personal narrative from a distinguished professor of science and a Native American whose previous book, Gathering Moss, was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing. As a botanist and professor of plant ecology, Robin Wall Kimmerer has spent a career learning how to ask questions of nature using the tools of science. As a Potawatomi woman, she learned from elders, family, and history that the Potawatomi, as well as a majority of other cultures indigenous to this land, consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowing together to reveal what it means to see humans as “the younger brothers of creation.” As she explores these themes she circles toward a central argument: the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the world. Once we begin to listen for the languages of other beings, we can begin to understand the innumerable life-giving gifts the world provides us and learn to offer our thanks, our care, and our own gifts in return”– Provided by publisher.
When the light of the world was subdued, our songs came through : a Norton anthology of Native nations poetry edited by Joy Harjo (2020)
“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. This landmark anthology celebrates the indigenous peoples of North America, the first poets of this country, whose literary traditions stretch back centuries. Opening with a blessing from Pulitzer Prize-winner N. Scott Momaday, the book contains powerful introductions from contributing editors who represent the five geographically organized sections. Each section begins with a poem from traditional oral literatures and closes with emerging poets, ranging from Eleazar, a seventeenth-century Native student at Harvard, to Jake Skeets, a young Diné poet born in 1991, and including renowned writers such as Luci Tapahanso, Natalie Diaz, Layli Long Soldier, and Ray Young Bear. When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through offers the extraordinary sweep of Native literature, without which no study of American poetry is complete”– Provided by publisher.
There there by Tommy Orange (2018)
Twelve Native Americans came to the Big Oakland Powwow for different reasons. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life together after his uncle’s death and has come to work the powwow and to honor his uncle’s memory. Edwin Frank has come to find his true father. Bobby Big Medicine has come to drum the Grand Entry. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil Red Feather. Orvil has taught himself Indian dance through YouTube videos, and he has come to the powwow to dance in public for the very first time. Tony Loneman is a young Native American boy whose future seems destined to be as bleak as his past, and he has come to the Powwow with darker intentions — intentions that will destroy the lives of everyone in his path.
The night watchman: a novel by Louise Erdrich (2020)
It is 1953. Thomas Wazhushk is the night watchman at the first factory to open near the Turtle Mountain Reservation in rural North Dakota. He is also a prominent Chippewa Council member, trying to understand a new bill that is soon to be put before Congress. The US Government calls it an ’emancipation’ bill; but it isn’t about freedom – it threatens the rights of Native Americans to their land, their very identity. How can he fight this betrayal? Unlike most of the girls on the reservation, Pixie – ‘Patrice’ – Paranteau has no desire to wear herself down on a husband and kids. She works at the factory, earning barely enough to support her mother and brother, let alone her alcoholic father who sometimes returns home to bully her for money. But Patrice needs every penny to get, if she’s ever going to get, to Minnesota to find her missing sister Vera. In The Night Watchman multi-award winning author Louise Erdrich weaves together a story of past and future generations, of preservation and progress. She grapples with the worst and best impulses of human nature, illuminating the loves and lives, desires and ambitions of her characters with compassion, wit and intelligence.
You don’t have to say you love me : a memoir by Sherman Alexie (2017)
When his mother passed away at the age of 78, Sherman Alexie responded the only way he knew how: he wrote. The result is this memoir. Featuring 78 poems and 78 essays, Alexie shares raw, angry, funny, profane, tender memories of a childhood few can imagine — growing up dirt-poor on an Indian reservation, one of four children raised by alcoholic parents. Throughout, a portrait emerges of his mother as a beautiful, mercurial, abusive, intelligent, complicated woman. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me is an account of a complicated relationship, an unflinching and unforgettable remembrance.
House made of dawn by M. Scott Momaday (1968)
A novel of a proud stranger in his native land. He was a young American Indian named Abel, and he lived in two worlds. One was that of his father, wedding him to the rhythm of the seasons, the harsh beauty of the land, the ecstasy of the drug called peyote. The other was the world of the twentieth century, goading him into a compulsive cycle of sexual exploits, dissipation, and disgust. Home from a foreign war, he was a man being torn apart, a man descending into hell.
Earth keeper : reflections on the American land by M. Scott Momaday (2020)
“In Earth Keeper: Reflections on an American Land, Momaday reflects on his native ground and its influence on his people. “When I think about my life and the lives of my ancestors, I am inevitably led to the conviction that I, and they, belong to the American land. This is a declaration of belonging. And it is an offering to the earth.” he writes. Earth Keeper is a story of attachment, rooted in oral tradition. Momaday recalls stories of his childhood that have been passed down through generations, stories that reveal a profound and sacred connection to the American landscape and a reverence for the natural world. In this moving work, he offers an homage and a warning. Momaday reminds us that the Earth is a sacred place of wonder and beauty; a source of strength and healing that must be protected before it’s too late. As he so eloquently yet simply reminds us, we must all be keepers of the Earth”– Provided by publisher.
An indigenous peoples’ history of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (2014)
“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 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 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. 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.”–Publisher’s description.
Sabrina & Corina : stories by Kali Fajardo- Anstine (2019)
Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s magnetic story collection breathes life into her Latina characters of indigenous ancestry and the land they inhabit in the American West. Against the remarkable backdrop of Denver, Colorado–a place that is as fierce as it is exquisite–these women navigate the land the way they navigate their lives: with caution, grace, and quiet force.
The heartbeat of Wounded Knee : native America from 1890 to the present by David Treuer (2019)
“The received idea of Native American history has been that it essentially ended with the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee: Not only did more than 150 Sioux die at the hands of the U.S. Cavalry, but Native civilization did as well. Growing up Ojibwe on a reservation in Minnesota, training as an anthropologist, and researching Native life for his nonfiction and his novels, David Treuer began to uncover a different narrative. Not despite but rather because of American Indians’ intense struggles to preserve their tribes, their cultures, and their very existence, the true story has been one of unprecedented resourcefulness and reinvention. In [this book], Treuer melds history with reportage and memoir to explore how the depredations of each era spawned new modes of survival. The devastating seizures of land gave rise to increasingly sophisticated legal and political maneuvering. The forced assimilation of children at government-run boarding schools incubated a unifying Native identity. Conscription in the military and the pull of urban life brought Indians into the mainstream and at the same time steered the emerging shape of self-rule and inspired a new generation of resistance. [This] is the essential, intimate story of a resilient people in a transformative epoch.”–Dust jacket.
Spirit run : a 6,000-mile marathon through North America’s stolen land by Noe Alvarez (2020)
“Growing up in Yakima, Washington, Noé Álvarez worked at an apple-packing plant alongside his mother, who “slouched over a conveyor belt of fruit, shoulder to shoulder with mothers conditioned to believe this was all they could do with their lives.” A university scholarship offered escape, but as a first-generation Latino college-goer, Álvarez struggled to fit in. At nineteen, he learned about a Native American/First Nations movement called the Peace and Dignity Journeys, epic marathons meant to renew cultural connections across North America. He dropped out of school and joined a group of Dené, Secwépemc, Gitxsan, Dakelh, Apache, Tohono O’odham, Seri, Purépecha, and Maya runners, all fleeing difficult beginnings. Telling their stories alongside his own, Álvarez writes about a four-month-long journey from Canada to Guatemala that pushed him to his limits. He writes not only of overcoming hunger, thirst, and fear-dangers included stone-throwing motorists and a mountain lion-but also of asserting Indigenous and working-class humanity in a capitalist society where oil extraction, deforestation, and substance abuse wreck communities. Running through mountains, deserts, and cities, and through the Mexican territory his parents left behind, Álvarez forges a new relationship with the land, and with the act of running, carrying with him the knowledge of his parents’ migration, and-against all odds in a society that exploits his body and rejects his spirit-the dream of a liberated future.”–Amazon.com.
Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford (2020)
“It’s 1974 in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and fifteen-year-old Justine grows up in a family of tough, complicated, and loyal women, presided over by her mother, Lula, and Granny. After Justine’s father abandoned the family, Lula became a devout member of the Holiness Church-a community that Justine at times finds stifling and terrifying. But she does her best as a devoted daughter, until an act of violence sends her on a different path forever. Crooked Hallelujah tells the stories of Justine-a mixed-blood Cherokee woman-and her daughter, Reney, as they move from Eastern Oklahoma’s Indian Country in the hopes of starting a new, more stable life in Texas amid the oil bust of the 1980s. However, life in Texas isn’t easy, and Reney feels unmoored from her family in Indian Country. Against the vivid backdrop of the Red River, we see their struggle to survive in a world-of unreliable men and near-Biblical natural forces like wildfires and tornadoes-intent on stripping away their connections to one another and their very ideas of home. In lush and empathic prose, Kelli Jo Ford depicts what this family of proud, stubborn women sacrifice for those they love, amid larger forces of history, religion, class, and culture. This is a big-hearted and ambitious novel-in-stories of the powerful bonds between mothers and daughters by an exquisite and rare new talent”– Provided by publisher.
Love After the End : An Anthology of Two-spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction by Joshua Whitehead (2020)
This exciting and groundbreaking fiction anthology showcases a number of new and emerging 2SQ (Two-Spirit and queer Indigenous) writers from across Turtle Island. These visionary authors show how queer Indigenous communities can bloom and thrive through utopian narratives that detail the vivacity and strength of 2SQness throughout its plight in the maw of settler colonialism’s histories.
Here, readers will discover bio-engineered AI rats, transplanted trees in space, the rise of a 2SQ resistance camp, a primer on how to survive Indigiqueerly, virtual reality applications, motherships at sea, and the very bending of space-time continuums queered through NDN time. Love after the End demonstrates the imaginatively queer Two-Spirit futurisms we have all been dreaming of since 1492.
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (2020)
“From the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Resistance Reborn comes the first book in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas and woven into a tale of celestial prophecies, political intrigue, and forbidden magic. A god will return When the earth and sky converge Under the black sun In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world. Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain. Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade”– Provided by publisher.