By: Aleena Khan
Recognizing Native American History Month also means appreciating and highlighting messages of Native American authors. Here are three prominent novels that reveal the experiences that have been overlooked:
Our History Is The Future by Nick Estes
Nick Estes is an indigenous historian and writer who wrote a nonfiction piece about being a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe in the nation of Oceti Sakowin.
Estes was inspired to write this novel in 2016 after a protest began at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. The protest ended up being the biggest movement in the twenty-first century for indigenous people. After the protest, he decided to write a novel that focuses on tracing back indigenous resistances that led to movements.
Estes uses his novel to emphasize the negative effects of colonialism and capitalism on indigenous people. He highlights how the US government continues to hurt indigenous lives and resources.
Lakota Woman by Mary Crow Dog
Lakota Woman focuses on Mary Brave Bird, a Rosebud Indian, who grew up in a one cabin room with no electricity or running water. Mary describes how difficult being Native American is because the government has continuously stripped her away of her culture and forced her into poverty.
After the continuous hardships, Bird fell into a downward spiral which led to her quitting school as a teenager and drinking heavily all day. Bird felt hopeless and decided to leave her home, which is where she began to see the true effects of racism. She decided to join the American Indian Movement which helped teach others about Native American Culture. The book focuses on Mary’s struggles with her identity and the racism that surrounds her.
fire power by christos
One of the most well known Native American activists throughout all of history is Chrystos (Menominee).
Chrystos is a Menomiee writer who has published countless novels and poems that expand on indigenous Americans' civil rights, justice, and feminism.
Their writing highlights difficult topics that many others aren't able to write about such as gender, genocide, and mental health.
Chrystos continuously writes “against the status quo” in order to emphasize their ideas. Their writing is a series of poems that address social issues in a direct way.