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Native American Literature

Thirty-five years ago, Native Americans had little voice in literature. Folktales and legends, which entered American culture through movies, television and books written by outsiders, attempted to tell the stories of American Indians living on reservations, farms and in cities.

It was not until 1968, when N. Scott Momaday published his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "House Made of Dawn," that people read the primary text of a Native American. During the 1970s, more works by Momaday appeared, along with other novels, poetry and short stories. Narrating their own lives, religions and cultures, Native Americans built a genre that now fills bookstores and is taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school.

Like other historically oppressed groups, Native Americans incorporated influences, traditions and personal experiences into their work. Link to the following sites for a well-rounded overview of Native American literature:

  • IPL: Native American Authors
    This portion of the Internet Public Library allows readers to search by author, title and tribe for 450 authors and 1,400 books. It also offers links to more than 1,400 Web sites related to Native American literature. You'll find extensive bibliographies, electronic texts, resources and tribal sites.




  • NativeWeb Books
    Part of NativeWeb.com, these pages are filled with resources, reviews and online texts of books, poetry and music from aboriginal people around the world. Content is organized by genre, subject and region.

  • American Indian Library Association
    This organization's site offers conference information, bibliographies and dozens of Native American literature links and resources. You can become a member, receive newsletters, and submit your ideas, too.

  • Oyate
    Dedicated to the accurate portrayal of Native Americans in books and other media, this site provides an age-appropriate listing of books, teaching materials and multimedia resources. Be sure to check out the organizations list of books to avoid.

Essential Authors

  • The Official Sherman Alexie Site
    The author of "The Lone Ranger" and "Tonto Fistfight in Heaven," which inspired the movie Smoke Signals, offers reader reviews and excerpts from his own work. More than 13 books, anthologies, poetry, music, essays and a film make this Native author a favorite in the 21st century.

  • N. Scott Momaday
    The Academy of Achievement maintains this site, complete with a profile, biography, photos and an interview.

  • Paula Gunn Allen
    This simple Internet Public Library site provides biographical and bibliographical information on the feminist writer who pens novels, nonfiction, poetry, and articles, all while editing anthologies. Gunn Allen taught at University of California at Los Angeles before her retirement in 1999.

Early Learning

  • Children's Books with Native American Themes, History and Characters
    This comprehensive site, maintained by author Cynthia L. Smith,is a great resource for parents and children alike. It offers recommendations, discussions, interviews, bibliographies and more.

  • If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything
    This literacy project aims to assist libraries serving Native American children. You can learn about each school involved, hear from the group's president and offer donations at this site.




   --- N. Magistro

 
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