A Reading List for Native American Heritage Month

For Native American Heritage Month, observed annually during the month of November, we asked our members—independent presses, literary journals, and others—to share with us some of the books and magazines they recommend reading in celebration.


To My Grandmother, c/o the Mush Hole by Amber Meadow Adams

Off Assignment; September 2020

In this installment of Off Assignment‘s “Letter to a Stranger” series, Adams addresses the grandmother she never met and considers her experience at the Mohawk Institute; in an interview accompanying this essay, Adams describes the former residential school as “in many ways, a North American concentration camp.”



“Queer Indigenous Poetics

Anomaly #30

In this issue of Anomaly, tanner menard sought to gently weave a space where Indigenous poets & artists who exist outside of heteronormative realms of gender & sexuality could reveal their wisdom & share their hearts with the literary community as a single but diverse chorus of voices.



“#NoDAPL #StillHere: Native and Anti-Colonial Craft Against Dispossession


This web folio is, according to editor Sarah Clark, who is Nanticoke, about the struggles and survivals at Standing Rock and about broader indigenous survival and resistance. It’s about the broken promises of our oppressors, and about our promises to each other and to the planet.



Dissolve by Sherwin Bitsui

Copper Canyon Press; 2018

Bitsui’s latest poetry collection “hums with the co-existence and dissonance of landscape and waste, crisis and continuity—with Navajo thought inherent to the movement of the book.”




A Generous Spirit: Selected Work by Beth Brant

Sinister Wisdom; 2019

Edited by Janice Gould and a finalist for the 2020 Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBTQ Fiction from the Publishing Triangle, this selection of Brant’s work is a “portrait of survival and empathy at the intersection of Native American and lesbian experience..”




In Search of a Course by Mark Cladis

Regal House Publishing; January 2021

Naomi Shihab Nye writes that Cladis’s memoir “layers introspective study with a thoughtful journey of personal loss and continuing discovery.”




Natalie DiazPostcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz

Graywolf Press; 2020

In Natalie Diaz’s second collection, “the wounds inflicted by America onto an indigenous people are allowed to bloom pleasure and tenderness.”




When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz

Copper Canyon Press; 2012

Natalie Diaz’s debut poetry collection “foregrounds the particularities of family dynamics and individual passion against the backdrop of the mythological intensity of tribal life and a deeply rooted cultural history.”




Restless Continent by Aja Couchois Duncan

Litmus Press; 2016

Winner of the Gold Medal for the 2017 California Book Award in Poetry, Restless Continent “communes with a North America that speaks elegiac, celebratory, and melancholic histories human and geological.”




Perfidia by Sky Hopinka

Wendy’s Subway & CCS Bard; September 2020

Edited by Julie Niemi, Perfidia is a collection of poetic writings by filmmaker Sky Hopinka; “each brief text swirls together to form an image of multiple landscapes that bid us remember: the past has come and gone, and the future is told through traces of nostalgic lore.”




How We Go Home: Voices from Indigenous North America

Haymarket Books; October 2020

Edited by Sara Sinclair, this anthology “shares contemporary Indigenous stories in the long and ongoing fight to protect Native land and life.”




His Feathers Were Chains by Denise K. Lajimodiere

North Dakota State University Press; September 2020

The third volume in the Contemporary Voices of Indigenous Peoples Series, this poetry collection is an “is overt criticism of settler society… subtle, approachable, and grounded in Ojibwe knowledge and customs.”




Stringing Rosaries: The History, the Unforgivable, and the Healing of Northern Plains American Indian Boarding School Survivors by Denise K. Lajimodiere

North Dakota State University Press; 2019

This book by Denise Lajimodiere, who is an enrolled citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Belcourt, North Dakota, “presents a brief history of the boarding school programs for Indigenous Americans, followed by sixteen interviews with boarding school survivors, and ending with the author’s own healing journey with her father.”




whereas by Layli Long Soldier

Graywolf Press; 2017

According to Krista Tippett, “Layli Long Soldier’s lyrical first book, WHEREAS, explores the freedom real apologies can bring—and offers entry points for us all to histories that are not merely about the past.”




Native Voices: Indigenous American Poetry, Craft and Conversations

Tupelo Press; 2019

This groundbreaking anthology, edited by CMarie Fuhrman and Dean Rader, offers “a diverse collection of stories told by Indigenous writers about themselves, their histories, and their present.”




New Poets of Native Nations 

Graywolf Press; 2018

Edited by Heid Erdrich, New Poets of Native Nations “gathers poets of diverse ages, styles, languages, and tribal affiliations to present the extraordinary range and power of new Native poetry.”




Habitat Threshold by Craig Santos Perez

Omnidawn; April 2020

Perez’s latest poetry collection “explores his ancestry as a native Pacific Islander, the ecological plight of his homeland, and his fears for the future.”




With Teeth by Natanya Ann Pulley

New Rivers Press; 2019

According to Lee Ann Roripaugh, this short story collection is “part creation myth, part surreal horror story, part smart parable of the consumption and commodification of vulnerable bodies.”




Horse Tracks by Henry Real Bird

Lost Horse Press; 2010

M.L. Smoker says of this book, “The inner heart commotion of Henry Real Bird is posed in a physical and metaphysical terrain marked by the history, culture, language and identity of his Apsaalooke nation.”




Dragonfly Weather by Lois Red Elk

Lost Horse Press; 2013

According to Alice M. Azure, these poems by Lois Red Elk—an enrolled member of the Ft. Peck Sioux in Montana—“bring the reader into a primeval, watery world of warm swamps, spiraling whirl winds, and fog.”




Another Attempt at Rescue by ML Smoker

Hanging Loose Press; 2005

Another Attempt at Rescue is the first poetry collection from M.L. Smoker, an Assiniboine/Sioux writer from the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana.




Popol Vuh: A Retelling by Ilan Stavans

Restless Books; October 2020

Illustrated by Gabriela Larios and introduced by Homero Aridjis, this is “an inspired and urgent prose retelling of the Maya myth of creation.”




Open the Dark by Marie Tozier

Red Hen Press/Boreal Books; August 2020

According to Elizabeth Bradfield, this debut poetry collection “clearly is emplaced in family, community, geography, history, and the seasonality of animals and plants in Western Alaska.”




This Is Where by Louise K. Waakaa’igan

Aquarius Press / Willow Books; March 2020

According to Becky Thompson, in this poetry collection, Anishinaabekwe poet Louise K. Waakaa’igan “lets us hear the ‘winds of flutes’ even as she writes from ‘concrete plains’ of prison.”




My Body Is a Book of Rules by Elissa Washuta

Red Hen Press; 2014

In this memoir of linked essays, Washuta’s  “crisis of American Indian identity bleeds into other areas of self-doubt; mental illness, sexual trauma, ethnic identity, and independence become intertwined.”



Carlisle Longings by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Shenandoah Vol. 69, No. 1; Fall 2019

In this essay, as well as an accompanying craft essay, Weiden writes about his maternal grandmother, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, and her experience at the Carlisle Industrial Indian School.