Expand your reading collection with these great Native American authors.
October 9 marks Indigenous People’s Day, a day to celebrate the unique culture and achievements of Native Americans. If you’re not Indigenous yourself, this is a great opportunity to learn more about the history of Native Americans, who they were then, who they are now, and how their culture is represented in the world today.
Unfortunately, there’s a fairly large number of misconceptions surrounding Native American culture, and many of these misconceptions are spread through supposedly reliable literary sources, so it’s more important than ever to ensure you’re hearing Native stories from Native speakers. That being said, we’ve put together a list of five great Native American authors, so feel free to take a look!
1. Leslie Marmon Silko
Leslie Marmon Silko was born in 1948 and is widely regarded as one of the driving minds behind the Native American Renaissance, a literary movement marked by a sudden boom in literary works authored by Native Americans. Through this movement, otherwise untold stories were seen and read by countless people, bringing the unique lives, cultures, and struggles of Native Americans to the forefront. She rose to prominence with her 1977 novel Ceremony, which tells the story of a mixed Laguna and Anglo soldier returning from World War II and his healing journey as he reconnects with his cultural roots.
2. David Treuer
David Treuer has a storied history in the world of literature, with a background in teaching both English and creative writing classes. In addition to his scholarly career, he’s an acclaimed author and language enthusiast, known for penning stories about Native American life, as well as working with his brother to preserve the language of the Ojibwe people.
3. Joy Harjo
Joy Harjo is a prominent Native American author and poet with a long and decorated career. She’s written ten books of poetry, released seven musical albums, and even authored a few children’s books, giving a platform to Native American voices through her work. As a result of her career, she served as the United States Poet Laureate from 2019–22 and is currently the first and only Native American ever to do so.
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4. Tommy Orange
Though now a renowned author, Tommy Orange began his career as a musician. However, after working at a bookstore for a time, he developed a passion for literature, reading, and writing and began his career as an author. His flagship title, There There, was written to convey the stories of Native Americans living in urban areas outside reservations and released to critical acclaim in 2018.
5. Oscar Hokeah
A rising star among Native American novelists, Oscar Hokeah has spent decades working with and helping the Native American community but has only just recently turned to writing as a method of doing so. His debut novel, Calling for a Blanket Dance, was released just over a year ago at the time of writing and follows a young Native American man throughout the many stages of his life, observing how he finds strength and solace in his rich heritage.
If you’re looking to diversify your reading list a bit with great authors, we’re here to help! Check out our blog for more information on great authors, great libraries, and how to support them both at EveryLibrary today!
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