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Native American Heritage Month

This guide contains information on McKee Library's collection of resources relating to Native American Heritage Month, including recommended books for further reading and films. For more information on the individual titles, please click the link to view the complete record in the library's catalog.

Featured Works

Native Universe: Voices of Indian America

The Smithsonian's new National Museum of the American Indian will be the last museum to be built on the National Mall and its opening will be a major, national media event. To commemorate the opening, the National Geographic Society has collaborated with the museum's curators and advisers to produce a lavishly illustrated, comprehensive volume based on major themes relevant to American Indian peoples. Written by a distinguished group of Native American scholars, poets, activists, and tribal leaders, the book will offer its non-Indian readers a closer understanding of Native perspectives, beliefs, and histories. The real power of this volume rests with its power to communicate firsthand the experiences, observations, and intellectual concepts of the hemisphere's indigenous peoples, who demonstrate that their ancient philosophies and folkways are integral, valuable, and still apply in modern times.

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History

Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize In the tradition of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a stunningly vivid historical account of the forty-year battle between Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of the American West, centering on Quanah, the greatest Comanche chief of them all. S. C. Gwynne's Empire of the Summer Moon spans two astonishing stories. The first traces the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history. The second entails one of the most remarkable narratives ever to come out of the Old West: the epic saga of the pioneer woman Cynthia Ann Parker and her mixed-blood son Quanah, who became the last and greatest chief of the Comanches. Although readers may be more familiar with the tribal names Apache and Sioux, it was in fact the legendary fighting ability of the Comanches that determined just how and when the American West opened up. Comanche boys became adept bareback riders by age six; full Comanche braves were considered the best horsemen who ever rode. They were so masterful at war and so skillful with their arrows and lances that they stopped the northern drive of colonial Spain from Mexico and halted the French expansion westward from Louisiana. White settlers arriving in Texas from the eastern United States were surprised to find the frontier being rolled backward by Comanches incensed by the invasion of their tribal lands. So effective were the Comanches that they forced the creation of the Texas Rangers and account for the advent of the new weapon specifically designed to fight them: the six-gun. 

We Shall Remain

A provocative multi-media project that establishes Native history as an essential part of American history. The centerpiece of this initiative is a television series that tells five heartbreaking, yet inspiring stories. Together they highlight Native ingenuity and resilience over the course of 300 years. The series upends two-dimensional stereotypes of American Indians as simply ferocious warriors or peaceable lovers of the land. 

Native Americans, Christianity, and the Reshaping of the American Religious Landscape

In this interdisciplinary collection of essays, Joel W. Martin and Mark A. Nicholas gather emerging and leading voices in the study of Native American religion to reconsider the complex and often misunderstood history of Native peoples' engagement with Christianity and with Euro-American missionaries. Surveying mission encounters from contact through the mid-nineteenth century, the volume alters and enriches our understanding of both American Christianity and indigenous religion. The essays here explore a variety of postcontact identities, including indigenous Christians, "mission friendly" non-Christians, and ex-Christians, thereby exploring the shifting world of Native-white cultural and religious exchange. Rather than questioning the authenticity of Native Christian experiences, these scholars reveal how indigenous peoples negotiated change with regard to missions, missionaries, and Christianity. This collection challenges the pervasive stereotype of Native Americans as culturally static and ill-equipped to navigate the roiling currents associated with colonialism and missionization. The contributors are Emma Anderson, Joanna Brooks, Steven W. Hackel, Tracy Neal Leavelle, Daniel Mandell, Joel W. Martin, Michael D. McNally, Mark A. Nicholas, Michelene Pesantubbee, David J. Silverman, Laura M. Stevens, Rachel Wheeler, Douglas L. Winiarski, and Hilary E. Wyss.

The Cherokees and Their Chiefs: In the Wake of Empire

In this newly researched and synthesized history of the Cherokees, Hoig traces the displacement of the tribe and the Trail of Tears, the great trauma of the civil War, the destruction of tribal autonomy, and the Cherokee people's phoenix-like rise in political and social stature during the twentieth century.

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher

How a lone man’s epic obsession led to one of America’s greatest cultural treasures: Prizewinning writer Timothy Egan tells the riveting, cinematic story behind the most famous photographs in Native American history — and the driven, brilliant man who made them.   Edward Curtis was charismatic, handsome, a passionate mountaineer, and a famous photographer, the Annie Leibovitz of his time. He moved in rarefied circles, a friend to presidents, vaudeville stars, leading thinkers. And he was thirty-two years old in 1900 when he gave it all up to pursue his Great Idea: to capture on film the continent’s original inhabitants before the old ways disappeared. An Indiana Jones with a camera, Curtis spent the next three decades traveling from the Havasupai at the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the Acoma on a high mesa in New Mexico to the Salish in the rugged Northwest rain forest, documenting the stories and rituals of more than eighty tribes. It took tremendous perseverance — ten years alone to persuade the Hopi to allow him into their Snake Dance ceremony. And the undertaking changed him profoundly, from detached observer to outraged advocate. Eventually Curtis took more than 40,000 photographs, preserved 10,000 audio recordings, and is credited with making the first narrative documentary film. In the process, the charming rogue with the grade school education created the most definitive archive of the American Indian. His most powerful backer was Theodore Roosevelt, and his patron was J. P. Morgan. Despite the friends in high places, he was always broke and often disparaged as an upstart in pursuit of an impossible dream. He completed his masterwork in 1930, when he published the last of the twenty volumes. A nation in the grips of the Depression ignored it. But today rare Curtis photogravures bring high prices at auction, and he is hailed as a visionary. In the end he fulfilled his promise: He made the Indians live forever.

The Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy

A look at the forced relocation of Cherokee tribes by the United States government from their ancestral homelands (throughout the South) to Indian Territory (in present-day Oklahoma) from 1838-1839.

Killers of the Flower Moon

In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.       Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. Her relatives were shot and poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances.       In this last remnant of the Wild West--where oilmen like J. P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes like Al Spencer, the "Phantom Terror," roamed--many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll climbed to more than twenty-four, the FBI took up the case. It was one of the organization's first major homicide investigations and the bureau badly bungled the case. In desperation, the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only American Indian agents in the bureau. The agents infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest techniques of detection.  Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.