November is Native American History month and a terrific time to head to your library.
When my local librarian handed me this beautiful book, I slumped myself into a chair and wept. Photographer (and incredible professor) John Willis has been documenting the Lakota people living on the Pine Ridge Reservation since 1995.
I was amazed at Willis’s ability to capture the daily life and hardship of the people living at Pine Ridge.
There is nothing romantic about the culture he captures in his photographs. The black and white images (shot on film and printed in a dark room!) do not exoticize the community that eventually trust and befriend him. Over the years, Willis had access to their homes, celebrations and sacred rituals but very little of that is in the book. This collection documents their every day. It is about their struggle. Their lives. Among the beautiful photographs are poems and artful contributions from people of all ages living on the reservation. This. Book. Is. Stunning. Buy this book, learn about the beautiful people of Pine Ridge and carefully consider A View from the Reservation.
In the 1920’s the Osage Tribe in Oklahoma struck oil on their land, making them the RICHEST people per capita IN THE WORLD!!!! They bought cars, mansions, and began living a life of luxury (not privilege because outside the reservation they had zero rights) then, they started dying. The people of the Osage nation were being poisoned and shot. People in the tribe began dying mysteriously AND the people investigating the deaths began dying too!! A young J. Edgar Hoover (in an attempt to build and strengthen the F.B.I) began investigating this insane series of events.
Killers of the Flower Moon is one of the best books I have read this year.
David Grann’s detailed account brings history alive in a way that is both depressing and captivating. I am so grateful that he has written such a stellar book on a piece of history that I knew nothing about. You better believe I will be buying several copies of this book to give as gifts this holiday season.
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me is Sherman Alexie’s memoir that will rip your heart out.
I was a puddle after reading this book. Alexies’s stories of his life on the reservation are riddled with alcoholism, parental abuse and the struggle for identity. This book was tough to read. I ached for all his sadness and acceptance of how his mother treated him. It was heartbreaking, unnerving and important.
#NotYourPrincess is a collection of essays, poems, photos and artwork by Native American women who live in North America. This collection breaks stereotypes and asks the tough questions. It is a stunningly personal account that would resonate with anyone.
Grand Theft Horse by G. Neri is not about a Native American tribe but I am including it because it was recommended to me by someone with a background in Native American studies. It is a graphic novel about a woman who trains dangerous horses. While Corban Wilkin’s illustrations are not my favorite (I prefer color and a large layout) I loved the story. Gail, the protagonist is a strong and compelling character that fights for the humane treatment of race horses. I appreciated this recommendation because I am not one to really care about horse racing however, this book is a phenomenal read.
I want to read more books about different Native American cultures.
After spending some time with these books I am floored by the way the Osage were treated in 1920 and how the Lakota are treated today. Friends, there is so much more that we can do. There are so many things to apologize for. The United States has such an insane history and there is so much that we don’t know or talk about. I have learned a mere speck of the history and want to learn more. Do you recommend any books about a Native American Culture or history? How about an author that has lived on a reservation? Let’s all try to read harder, loiter and learn something.