Modern day America is a melting pot of nationalities, with citizens who have migrated to its shores over the last few centuries the United States is truly a global community. Guardians of the land before the settlers arrived were the Native Americans, marginalised, pushed onto reservations and divested of their ancestral lands they are a people who have been pushed to the brink of non existence and yet still survive.
With a rich and varied history Native Americans have many stories to tell and here we have five Native American authors that are well worth adding to your shelves.
Sherman grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation and is an American novelist, short story writer, poet, and filmmaker. With much of his writing coming from his experiences as a Native American with ancestry from several tribes Sherman is an author whose works offer an insight into life as a Native American with themes of despair, poverty, violence and alcoholism among the lives of Native American people, both on and off the reservation lightened by a wry wit and pervasive humour.
Janet Campbell Hale
With a writing style that has been compared to Hemingway Hale’s works explore issues of Native American identity and discusses poverty, abuse, and the condition of women in society. Her books follow a common theme of capture with the Bloodlines narrative inverted to examine the “capture of white people by Native Americans, and change it into an account of capture of Native peoples by European-descended people”.
A writer of novels, poetry, and children’s books featuring Native American characters and settings Louise Erdrich’s best known novel Plague of Doves which focuses on the historical lynching of four Native people wrongly accused of murdering a Caucasian family, and the effect of this injustice on the current generations was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. Many of her books take place within a fictional North Dakota Reservation and are set in the early 20th century.
One of the most widely read of all Native American poets Nila’s poetry about life both on and off the reservation is gritty and realistic yet funny too; she has published five collections of poetry and one non-fiction book documenting tribal history. For those interested in reading her works Love at Gunpoint is a good place to start covering the highs and lows of life as a contemporary Native American woman
John Joseph Mathews
Focussing on and representing for the first time history from their point of view Mathews is a champion of the Osage people and his book The Osages: Children of the Middle Waters has preserved many of the collected stories and oral history of the Osage. His first book, Wa’kon-tah: The Osage and The White Man’s Road would become an instant bestseller, but he is best known for Sundown, a semi-autobiographical novel about a young man who feels estranged from tribal life after returning from college and military service.
These five are not even the tip of the metaphorical iceberg of amazing Native American authors that are writing literature about life as a Native American both in the past and in modern times.
Yet more books added to my TBR pile.