“There is no such thing as a Native American. Nor is there a Native American language. We call ourselves Mvskoke, Diné, or any of the other names of our tribal nations.”
- Joy Harjo, U.S. poet laureate, When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through (2020)
November is Native American Heritage Month, but we in the Youth Services department wanted to acknowledge that language changes and no group or person is a monolith. In the above quote, Harjo makes the point that terms like “Native American” and “American Indian” tend to carry less importance for members of Native Nations, who instead identify foremost with tribal affiliations, which often have close ties to ancestral homelands.
Because of that, the Youth Services department’s list of Indigenous and First Nations Books for Kids includes notes for the tribal affiliation(s) for each book, author, and/or illustrator where possible. We’ve also taken care to note whether a title was rated as “Recommended” or higher by Debbie Reese’s American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) blog or specifically recommended by Oyate, a Native organization dedicated to ensuring the authentic and respectful depiction of Native stories.
The links below are by no means an exhaustive list (which is very much a work in progress), but the ones we’ve chosen to spotlight in our collection and wanted to share to celebrate Native American Heritage Month.
This link will take you to the list on the FPPL website, where you can easily peruse the book list, put holds on the items, print the list, and even email to share with other people: FPPL Indigenous Peoples First Nations Books for Kids
Google Doc of the FPPL Indigenous Peoples + First Nations Books for Kids, including sections divided by Young Readers, Middle Grade, Fiction, and Non-Fiction, as well as notes for the tribal affiliations for each book, author, and/or illustrator.
In Forest Park, a land acknowledgement is being worked on. The Historical Society is preparing an official acknowledgement and is looking for public comment. You can go here to learn more: https://www.forestparkhistory.org/land-acknowledgment.html