I cannot believe it is already November! But since it is, let’s celebrate Native American Heritage Month by looking at some library books on the subject.
Code Talker: a Novel about the Navajo Marines of World War II was written by Joseph Bruchac. During the war, our codes were being broken by the Japanese in the Pacific Ocean. If our commanders couldn’t send secret messages, we couldn’t win the war. Navajo or Diné men were recruited by the Marines to send and receive secret instructions. Nobody could break this code because it wasn’t just a code. It was a whole other language, only understood by the Diné people.
North Carolinians: the Indians of North Carolina – This newly revised edition presents the history of Native Americans in North Carolina. Dr. Theda Perdue, a professor at UNC Chapel Hill, looks at the Indians’ way of life before Europeans first arrived in the area. She also examines Indian-white relations after the arrival of Europeans. She chronicles the Cherokee and Lumbee tribes during the past two centuries and examines their modern-day situation. If you like fact rather than fiction, check out this recent publication, revised by Dr. Christopher Arris Oakley of East Carolina University.
Hiawatha and the Peacemaker shows Hiawatha as an angry man, plotting revenge for the death of his wife and daughters. When the Great Peacemaker asks for his help in bringing the nations together, Hiawatha realizes that life marked by peace, love, and unity would be the better choice. This is a simplified version with great illustrations, for young people.
The Education of Little Tree was written by Forrest Carter in 1980. This is not a new book, but still speaks to people young and old. When orphaned at a young age, Little Tree is adopted by his Native American grandparents and begins a peaceful, beloved existence close to nature, until he is force to go to a white man’s boarding school. Cherokee culture clashes with white culture until Grandfather intervenes.
Dances with Wolves is a classic film starring Kevin Costner. The story centers on a soldier and his relationship with the local natives. His journal, his white-native wife, and his ethics create an edge-of-the-seat story.
If you are more interested in documentaries, check out Ten Days That Unexpectedly Changed America, which includes a film of the Pequot War in Mystic, Connecticut. Before this massacre, the Europeans had lived in relative peace with the Native Americans. When the English settlers slaughtered their neighbors, this set the pattern of settlers violently taking the Indians’ land for their own, throughout the country.
Celebrate Native American Heritage Month by checking out some of our books or DVDs. Don’t forget all the Native American folktales in the juvenile nonfiction room.