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November is Native American Heritage Month, a time to honor and celebrate the history and culture of Native peoples.

Stories have a powerful role in our understanding of history and can take many shapes. Native American Heritage Month invites us to dig deeper, to learn more about Native American history and elevate contemporary Native voices.  The stories on this list are a great place to start!

Note: The land that makes up Illinois is the ancestral home of a number of Tribal Nations, including the people of the Council of the Three Fires (the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Odawa), the Peoria, Kaskaskia, Piankashaw, Wea, Miami, Mascoutin, Sauk and Fox, Mesquaki, Kickapoo, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, and Chickasaw Nations. It is important to recognize this fact; a Land Acknowledgement tells a story, too.

Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory

by Claudio Saunt

Using firsthand accounts and federal government documents, Saunt argues that corruption and white supremacy were at the heart of Native American expulsion.

The Only Good Indians

by Stephen Graham Jones

Four men from the Blackfeet Nation are haunted by a terrifying and vengeful entity after an incident on an elk hunt years ago.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Indigenous Continent: The Epic Contest for North America

by Pekka Hämäläinen

Historian Hämäläinen argues that, during colonization, Native American populations fought much harder — and held onto power for much longer — than commonly thought.                                                                                            

The Sentence

by Louise Erdrich

A Native bookseller with a complicated past is haunted: by the ghost of a troublesome customer, by everything happening in the changing world, and by her past.                                                                                                                                                                  

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

by Charles C. Mann

Mann examines the pre-Columbus Americas, revealing a new understanding of the way Native Americans lived before colonization.                                                                                                                                                                   

There There

by Tommy Orange

Twelve Native characters on their way to the Big Oakland Powwow discover connection through their varied experiences and motivations.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Drawing on stories from her own life, Kimmerer combines her scientific and Indigenous backgrounds in meditations on plants, reciprocity, and our relationship with nature.

Where the Dead Sit Talking

by Brandon Hobson

A coming-of-age story about two Native American teens in foster care, their inevitable bond and the unraveling that follows.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Rez Life: An Indian’s Journey Through Reservation Life

by David Treuer

Treuer covers many aspects of reservation life and the issues that influence it: treaty rights, resource conservation, public policy, tribal government, casinos, crime, and the preservation of culture, to name a few.        

Winter Counts

by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

A vigilante on a reservation finds himself facing a heroin epidemic head-on, working to find out where the drugs are coming from and how to stop them.                                                                                                                                         

Heart Berries: A Memoir

by Terese Marie Mailhot

Mailhot tells the story of growing up on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation while working through a dysfunctional upbringing, complex relationships with her parents, and her own mental health struggles.                                                                 

House Made of Dawn

by Scott Momaday

A young Native American who’s just returned from war grapples with identity and the feeling of being torn between two worlds.