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Native Americans: Fiction & Literature

Updated: December 1, 2021

A selection of poetry, fiction, short stories and memoirs from modern and ancient writers.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Alexie, Sherman, 1966-

In the face of constant poverty and lack of opportunities on his Spokane Indian reservation, nerdy cartoonist Junior makes the decision to leave the reservation to attend the all-white public school where he is the only Native-American and subject to constant bullying and stereotypes. His cartoons, present throughout the book, help him to cope and understand.

An American sunrise : poems
Harjo, Joy,
Call Number: 811 H2816-8

Joy Harjo, first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States, reflects on returning to her native tribal land, and the past history of her people being forcibly removed from their homeland.

Bird songs don't lie : writings from the rez
Johnson, Gordon Lee, 1951-
Call Number: 818 J6635

A collection of witty, incisive and heartbreaking essays and short stories by Gordon Lee Johnson, aka Cahuilla/Cupeno, who lives on the Pala Indian Reservation in San Diego County, Southern California.

Silko, Leslie Marmon, 1948-
Call Number: Ed.b

Tayo, WW II vet and former prisoner of war, returns to his Laguna Pueblo reservation, but does not find any consolation for all that he endured. Only by delving into the history, traditions, beliefs and ritual practices of his people will he find resolution.

Chair of tears
Vizenor, Gerald Robert, 1934-

Vizenor combines traditional trickster tale themes and biting satire to skewer stereotypes of Native Americans and academia.

House Made of Dawn
Momaday, N. Scott, 1934-

This novel was awarded the1969 Pultizer Prize for fiction.  Momaday's semi-autobiographical novel is about a Native American caught between two worlds, life on the reservation and another in an industrial American city.

Indian giver : poems
Smelcer, John E., 1963-
Call Number: 811 S638-3

Novelist and poet John E. Smelcer, member of the Ahtna Tribe of Alaska, does not mince words in his satiric send-up about Native Americans.

Kiss of the fur queen
Highway, Tomson, 1951-

The Fur Queen may be the source of life and death.  Despite successful lives as adults, two Cree brothers carry the scars of abuse after being taken from their Northern Cree Reservation to a residential school to be converted to Christianity.



Mat hekid o ju : 'O'odham Ha-Cegitodag = When it rains : Tohono O'odham and Pima poetry
Call Number: 897.08 M4255

 "When It Rains was one of the earliest published literary works in the O'odham language. Speakers from across generations shared poems that showcased the aesthetic of the written word and aimed to spread interest in reading and writing in O'odham"

Native American myths & tales : anthology of classic tales
Call Number: 897.08 N2785

A selection of myths and tales that cover the traditions and beliefs of Native American tribes that lived across the North American continent, from Alaska to the Bay of Mexico. Numerous traditions, languages and customs were part of the rich life wherever Native Americans lived.

Palominos near Tuba City : new & selected poems
Sweet, Denise,
Call Number: 811 S9740

Anishinabe poet Denise Sweet writes with precision and lyricism about Indigenous peoples of North and Central America.

Plain of jars and other stories
Hobson, Geary.

A collection of short stories about men in combat, some of whom are Native Americans, as they struggle to find meaning.

Poet warrior : a memoir
Harjo, Joy
Call Number: 811 H2816H-2

This is a sequel to U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s autobiography, Crazy Brave: a memoir  Continuing her poet-warrior path, she reflects on her life and many roles as a mother, a wife and member of her community. Harjo writes honestly about the tragedies and triumphs that she has experienced and how her community's traditions and values have sustained her, along with poetry, music and spiritual traditions. Also, look at: Joy Harjo, Library of Congress.


Ten little Indians : stories
Alexie, Sherman, 1966-
These stories about Spokane Indians living in the Seattle area are filled with vivid characters and thoughtful, wry reflections on what it means to be an Indian.

There there
Orange, Tommy, 1982-

Tommy Orange explores urban Native American identity through a spectrum of character perspectives. Twelve Native American characters who struggle with their own hardships, combined with the memory of a tragic history as a people, hope to find meaning or solace at the Big Oakland Powwow in California.


Tortured skins, and other fictions
Kenny, Maurice, 1929-2016.

Fourteen stories by Mohawk writer Maurice Kenny, who presents different aspects of truth as portrayed in old and modern tales.


Trail of Lightning
Roanhorse, Rebecca,

This story is set in the near future on the land of the Dinétah (the Navajo reservation), after a cataclysmic global warming has drowned most of the world. There has been a (literal) rebirth of the gods and heroes of myth in the aftermath of this cataclysm.  Maggie Hoskie, the heroine, is a monster slayer and is sent on an adventure that tests her origins and skills. This is an exciting story that highlights the myths and legends of the Navajo people in the context of post-apocalyptic fantasy.  


Weaving the boundary
Wood, Karenne, 1960-
Call Number: 811 W8765-1

As a member of the Monacan Indian Nation, Karenne Wood intertwines history, folklore, feminism, and a reverence for earth and nature in this collection of poems which are chant-like in form and rhythm.

What the chickadee knows = Gijigijigaaneshiinh gikendaan : poems in Anishinaabemowin and English
Noodin, Margaret
Call Number: 897 N816-1

Poet Margaret Noodin's poems are presented in facing pages of Anishinaabemowin and English. The poems focus on nature, history and traditions that are part of her tribe's past and present.

The woman who watches over the world : a native memoir
Hogan, Linda.
Call Number: 811 H7136H

In her memoir, Linda Hogan, writer, storyteller and professor, describes the insight she achieved in overcoming brain injuries, broken bones and depression. It was a reconnection with the knowledge and wisom of her ancestors that enabled her to move forward. "This is a book about love. ... The work revealed to me that there is a geography of the human spirit, common to all peoples."