Monday, October 28, 2013

November is Native American Heritage Month. What will you read to celebrate?

What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S. has (in 1990) resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.

I'm sure that for most people November brings to mind Thanksgiving with happy and oh so Thankful Pilgrims sitting down to a feast with the Native Americans (the Wampanoags).  I can't help but wonder how different things would be if the Native Americans had chosen not to help those struggling and starving people?

As a tribally enrolled direct descendant of the Nipmuck tribe of Massachusetts I would like to celebrate and acknowledge, throughout the month of November and beyond, those people who were instrumental in the success of our nation at the expense of their own lives, freedom and culture... The Native Americans.  

What most people don't realize is that Native Americans still exist, and not just out west, but here in the east as well. Tribes are active and alive within their cultures where a main goal is to keep new generations immersed in the culture. For me, it has been like living in two worlds.

Here is my daughter Little Owl getting ready to jingle dress dance at our annual Pau Wau at Lake Siog in Massachusetts. This dance is done as a medicine dance to bring healing to our people. 

Here is a video of my husband Stone Oak drumming with the Eastern Medicine Singers (a drumming/singing group of Native men from Rhode Island). 


This month I will feature some excellent books written by Native authors.  The first, and perhaps one of my favorite books of all time is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

About This Book

2007 National Book Award Winner
Wanting to better his life, fourteen-year-old Arnold Spirit Jr., a teenager on the Spokane Indian reservation, who is often the brunt of his community's jokes, decides to make a brave and bold decision. He begins attending a nearby all-white school. Because of this decision Jr. is regarded as a traitor by his own people.  In this book Junior struggles to make new friends as he adjusts to his new school.
I loved this book because it discusses situations that many Native youths must face and also because it is based on the author's own experiences.  This first young adult novel by bestselling author Sherman Alexie features poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art as it chronicles the contemporary issues facing Native youth and particularly of one Native American boy who is attempting to break away from the life he was destined to live.  

           I give this book 5 stars!!!