National American Indian Heritage Month

In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 National American Indian Heritage Month. Similar proclamations have been issued each year since 1994. The National Register of Historic Places has put together a list of sites promoting the history and culture of Native Americans. The following Special Collection is designed to highlight some of the library's many resources about Native Americans.

General Reference

Historical Dictionary of North American Archaeology edited by Edward B. Jelks: This comprehensive guide to mainly prehistoric sites, cultures and artifacts in the United States and Canada features some 1800 signed entries by 151 expert contributors.

American Indians edited by Harvey Markowitz: This three-volume set, arranged alphabetically in an encyclopedia style, highlights hundreds of important characters, events, places and concepts in Native American culture. Also included are a timeline, addresses of educational institutions, agencies, museums as well as statistical information.

The Columbia Guides to American Indian History and Culture Series: The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Northeast by Kathleen J. Bragdon and The Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Southeast by Theda Perdue and Michael D. Green: These concise and authoritative reference resources to the history and culture of the varied indigenous peoples of the eastern United States. Includes annotated lists of tribes, bibliographies, museums, published sources, Internet sites and films.

Indians of North America: Although these slim volumes are intended to be read by middle to high school-aged students, their informative nature make them helpful to all age groups. The library owns many of these titles, and many of them are tribe specific.


Retrieving Michigan's Buried Past: The Archaeology of the Great Lakes State edited by John R. Halsey: Comprised of 13 chapters contributed by archaeologists, the book covers not only the full range of prehistoric occupations in the state but also gives extensive coverage of the archaeology of Michigan from the time of first European exploration to the dawn of the 20th century.


The Earth Shall Weep: The History of Native Americans by James Wilson: A comprehensive history of Native America that draws on ethnography, archaeology, Indian oral tradition, and other sources to document the evolution of native cultures and examines the collision between indigenous cultures and European settlers over the course of the past four centuries.

America in 1492: The World of the Indian Peoples Before the Arrival of Columbus edited by Alvin Josephy, Jr.: By including essays written by historians, linguists, anthropologists and other experts in the field of American Indian history, editor Alvin Josephy has attempted to paint an accurate portrait of North America at the time of Columbus.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown: A fully documented account of the systematic destruction of the American Indian during the second half of the nineteenth century.

Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee by Paul Chaat Smith and Robert Allen Warrior: Follows the radical attempts of Native Americans in the late 1960s to establish what became known as the American Indian Movement.

History: DVDs

Black Indians: an American story (2000, DVD) Explores the issue of racial identity among Native and African Americans and examines the coalescence of these two groups in American history. Narrated by James Earl Jones.

500 nations (2004, DVD) An eight-part documentary that looks back at life in North America before the arrival of the Europeans, then follows the epic struggles of Indian Nations as the continent is reshaped by contact. Hosted by Kevin Costner and narrated by Gregory Harrison.

Geronimo and the Apache resistance (2007, DVD) This film separates myth from reality in the story of the  tragic collision of two cultures with dramatically different views of the world and of each other

Land of the Eagle (2006, DVD) The story of how North America was discovered is told through the eyes of the Native Americans and the European newcomers. A magnificent ensemble of paintings, photographs, wildlife films, and Native Americans voicing the words of their ancestors

The mystery of Chaco Canyon (2003, DVD) Examines the enigmas presented by the prehistoric remains found in Chaco Canyon in New Mexico. Narrated by Robert Redford.

Social Life and Customs: Food/Cookery

Spirit of the Harvest: North American Indian Cooking by Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs: A wealth of Native American recipes and historic information, organized regionally.

Social Life and Customs: Clothing

Indian Clothing of the Great Lakes, 1740-1840 by Sheryl Hartman: A detailed book illustrating the various clothing of Native Americans from several tribes in the Great Lakes region. An extensive bibliography and glossary are included.

Social Life and Customs: Artwork

Art of the American Indian Frontier: The Chandler-Pohrt Collection by David W. Penney: Twenty-four full-color plates depicting North American clothing, jewelry, religious items and other artwork made between 1780 and 1920 is complemented by an informative booklet by a curator at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Folklore and Religion

Turtle Island Alphabet: A Lexicon of Native American Symbols and Culture by Gerald Hausman: Examines the themes of Native American culture in poetry, storytelling, crafts and other social means.

American Indian Myths and Legends selected and edited by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz: With 160 legends from 80 tribes by living storytellers across North America, this book gives the reader a glimpse into the folklore of the past.


The Encyclopedia of Native American Biography: Six Hundred Life Stories of Important People from Powhatan to Wilma Mankiller by Bruce E. Johansen and Donald A. Grinde, Jr.: This extensively researched reference book portrays both Native and non-Native Americans who are significant in Native American culture and history.

Tecumseh: A Life by John Sugden: An in-depth look at the famous Shawnee leader and his efforts to create a Pan Indian resistance.


The Black Robe (DVD): Chronicles the journey of Father Laforgue (Lothaire Blutheau) as he leaves his Jesuit brothers and, with the aid of a young translator and guide, Daniel (Aden Young), and eight canoes of Algonquin Indians, moves into the uncompromising Canadian northern territory on a mission to convert the natives.

The Last of the Mohicans ( DVD):The dramatic version of James Fennimore Cooper's sweeping novel of the French Indian war in 1757, and the romance between Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis), an American settler raised by the Mohicans who is forced to serve as a guide for British adventurism in upstate New York, and Cora (Madeleine Stowe), the daughter of a British general. Many notable performances by Native Americans are presented, including Russell Means as Chingachgook, Wes Studi as Magua, Eric Schweig as Uncas, and a cameo appearance by Dennis Banks as Ongewasgone.

Smoke Signals (DVD): This film is a bittersweet comedy about two individuals, Victor and Thomas, who leave their small town for adventure. Notably, this film was written, directed and produced by Native Americans.

Windtalkers (DVD): In the war against Japan in World War II, a battle-weary Marine (Nicholas Cage) is assigned to guard - and ultimately befriends - a young Navajo soldier (Adam Beach) who has been trained to be a radio code talker.


Music for the Native Americans by Robbie Robertson & The Red Road Ensemble: Described as a complex and challenging, this music cd explores Native American music with modern elements.

Makoce Wakan by Red Thunder: Incorporating Native American music with elements of rock, reggae and other contemporary music, Red Thunder succeeds in creating its own sound.

Putumayo Presents a Native American Odyssey: Contemporary Native music of the Americas, from northern Canada to Cuzco, Peru.


American Indian Lacrosse: Little Brother of War by Thomas Vennum, Jr.: Traces the Native American history of lacrosse, describes its rules, equipment, techniques, and regional differences, and recounts legendary games of the past.


National Museum of the American Indian: This new museum is part of the Smithsonian, and its website includes a number of online exhibitions or online overviews of true exhibitions on display at various places in the U.S. The museum itself is on the Mall in Washington D.C.

Library of Congress American Memory Project: American Memory is a gateway to rich primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States. The site offers more than seven-million digital items from over 100 historical collections. Use the search engine to find general information on Native Americans, or specific names, dates and events.

Native American Sites: Maintained by Lisa Mitten, social sciences subject selector for Choice Magazine. Contains links to individual Native American Nations, organizations, native studies programs, languages, businesses and more. Also includes a link to the American Indian Library Association homepage.

20th Century Warriors: Native American Participation in the United States Military: Highlights military contributions of Native Americans in the 20th century. Includes a section regarding the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II whose contributions of transmitting unbreakable "code" of their native language were a key factor in the war for the United States.

Newberry Library: This independent research library, located in Chicago, is well known for its extensive collection regarding Native American history and culture.