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Library Resources Celebrate Native American Heritage

By Kristina Schulz

What began over a century ago as a single day to recognize the contributions of the first Americans is now a month devoted to honoring Native American heritage. This past summer, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden appointed Joy Harjo, member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, as the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry (popularly known as the Poet Laureate of the United States). Harjo is both the first Native American and the first Oklahoman to serve in this role. According to Hayden, Harjo's poems tell “an American story of tradition and loss, reckoning and myth-making. Her work powerfully connects us to the Earth and the spiritual world with direct, inventive lyricism that helps us reimagine who we are.”

Roesch Library has many resources that celebrate the rich culture and traditions of Native Americans. 

Resources on Kanopy

We Shall Remain

This provocative multimedia project establishes Native history as an essential part of American history. The centerpiece is a television series that tells five heartbreaking yet inspiring stories that highlight Native ingenuity and resilience over the course of 300 years (Kanopy). Also available on DVD.

The Thick Dark Fog

Walter Littlemoon is a 69-year old Lakota man born and raised in Wounded Knee, South Dakota. At the age of 5, he was removed from his family to attend a federal government boarding school where his culture, language and spirituality were suppressed. This film profiles Littlemoon’s journey to heal and reclaim his heritage (Kanopy).

More than a Word

This film explores the impact of Native American-based mascots on real-life attitudes, issues and policies. Through interviews with scholars, tribal leaders, lawyers, policy experts, activists, and fans, the film explores the history of the slanderous term "redskin," delves into cultural stereotypes and argues for representations that honor indigenous people (Kanopy).

Leisure Reading Collection

Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems

By Joy Harjo. In these poems, the joys and struggles of the everyday are played against the grinding politics of being human. Beginning in a hotel room in the dark of a distant city, we travel through history and follow the memory of the Trail of Tears from the bend in the Tallapoosa River to a place near the Arkansas River. Stomp dance songs, blues and jazz ballads echo throughout. Lost ancestors are recalled. Resilient songs are born, even as they grieve the loss of their country (Goodreads).

Winter in the Blood 

By James Welch. A nameless, aimless young man’s attempts to track down an absconding girlfriend lead him on an odyssey of beer-drenched encounters, one-night stands and improbable mock intrigues. Only when the narrator seeks the counsel of an elderly, blind Native American named Yellow Calf does he begin to grasp the truth (Penguin Random House). Also available on Kanopy.  

There There 

By Tommy Orange. This relentlessly paced multigenerational story interweaves violence and recovery, memory and identity, and beauty and despair in telling the stories of twelve characters, each of whom has private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow (Goodreads).

Resources in University Archives Rare Book Collection

Several rare books in the University Archives and Special Collections are written in Native American languages.

Leaf from a 1663 Eliot Indian Bible: Jeremiah XL, XLII-XLIII

This is the first Bible printed in what is now the United States and is in a Native American language. John Eliot, a Cambridge scholar, Christian missionary, translator and linguist learned the Wôpanâak dialect of the tribes of colonial New England with the assistance of several native speakers. His New Testament translation was printed in 1661. Two years later, he completed the Old Testament in Wôpanâak. His translations documented a language that didn’t exist in written form before his translation. Museum of the Bible provides an informative video on the first Bible printed in America.

Prières, Cantiques, Catéchisme, etc., en Langue Crise

Text in Cree syllabics; title in French and Cree. This is a book of prayers and devotions. 

— Kristina Schulz is the University Archivist.

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