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  • Writer's pictureNora Curry

Indigenous Peoples' Day


In 2019, Governor Mills signed a bill to reestablish the day formerly celebrated as Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples' Day, a holiday that is currently recognized by fourteen states. This year on October 11th, therefore, we celebrate our third official Indigenous Peoples' Day—and a rich celebration of identity, culture, and history it is!


Maine has been the home of its Native peoples for more than 12,000 years. The four Indian tribes still present in Maine (the Maliseet, Micmac, Penobscot, and Passamaquody) are known collectively as the Wabanaki or "People of the Dawnland" and formed the Wabanaki Alliance in 2020 in order "to educate people of Maine about the need for securing sovereignty of the tribes in Maine" (Maine Dept of Ed). As the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor explains, "each community maintains its own tribal government, community schools, cultural center and each manages its respective lands and natural resources. Although most of Maine's Native people belong to one of these four federally recognized groups and reside on tribal lands, other Native people live in towns and cities across the State."


The Abbe Museum is a wonderful source, both online and on site, of information about Maine's Indigenous peoples, while the Maine State Museum in Augusta offers great advice about further online resources available here. Additionally, First Light, self-described as a "bridge between conservation organizations and Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet and Micmac Communities who seek to expand Wabanaki stewardship of land," provides a wealth of historical and current information about the Wabanaki alliance, as well as further resources. Wabanaki REACH similarly offers contemporary information about educations and rights for these communities.


If you'd like to hit the books this Indigenous Peoples' Day, please explore the reading list below to discover novels, poetry, short stories, memoirs, biographies, a wealth of varied nonfiction books, and titles for both children and teens, all about Indigenous cultures and/or by Indigenous authors. Click the titles to read more about each one or to request it from the Minerva catalog.


Fiction

Empire of Wild, Cherie Dimaline

Perma Red, Debra Magpie Earling

The Night Watchman, Louise Erdrich

Sabrina & Corina: stories, Kali Fajardo-Anstine

My Heart is a Chainsaw, Stephen Graham Jones

Last Standing Woman, Winona LaDuke

House Made of Dawn, N. Scott Momaday

There There, Tommy Orange

Trail of Lightning, Rebecca Roanhorse

Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko

This Town Sleeps, Dennis E. Staples

Split Tooth, Tanya Tagaq

Cherokee America, Margaret Verble

The Break, Katherena Vermette

Indian Horse, Richard Wagamese

Winter in the Blood, James Welch

The Seed Keeper, Diane Wilson


Poetry

New Poets of Native Nations, ed. Heid E. Erdrich

Whereas, Layli Long Soldier

Feed, Tommy Pico


Memoirs and Biographies

Lakota Woman, Mary Brave Bird

Poet Warrior, Joy Harjo

Heart Berries: a memoir, Terese Marie Mailhot


Other Nonfiction


Audiovisual

Dawnland (film)


Young Adult

Firekeeper's Daughter, Angeline Boulley

#NotYourPrincess: voices of Native American women, ed. Lisa Charleyboy & Mary Beth Leatherdale

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese)

Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger

Rain Is Not My Indian Name, Cynthia Leitich Smith


Children's

The Pencil, Susan Avingaq

Peacemaker, Joseph Bruchac

Malian's Song, Marge Bruchaco

The Sea in Winter, Christine Day

We Are Water Protectors, Carole Lindstrom

Encounter, Brittany Luby

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