Written in collaboration with the Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition and the Materials Selection & Acquisition Department of the Downtown Main Library
November kicks off Native American Heritage Month! This is a time for Native Americans to celebrate their heritage and for non-Native people to listen and learn. To help teachers, parents, and caregivers navigate celebrating this month with kids in a way that honors and respects Indigenous peoples, Education Coordinator April Hester from the Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition provided these tips:
Know Whose Land You're On
“Learn about the Native peoples whose homelands you live on,” said Hester. “There are over 40 federally recognized Native American Nations who are from Ohio. These Nations still exist and are thriving in other parts of the country and maintain their ancestral ties to this land. Find out why there are no federally recognized tribes in Ohio now and how these Nations are reviving their cultures today.”
Teach the Truth
Don't teach false truths about Native Americans in history. “This includes Thanksgiving,” said Hester. “Use this time to honor Native peoples and Indigenous values like generosity, family, community, and connection to land. Check out the National Museum of American Indians' instructional resource on their website.”
Talk and teach about the diversity of Native cultures and Indigenous peoples today. “There are 574 federally recognized tribes in what is now the United States and thousands more Indigenous peoples throughout Turtle Island,” said Hester. “We are still here with vibrant cultures and a variety of languages and customs. We don't all live in teepees and ride horses. We are thriving and resilient.”
Support Native American Artist and Organizations
Local organizations like the Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition are a great way to get involved in advocacy around various issues that impact Indigenous peoples. When it comes to supporting artists and makers, Hester underlines the importance of making sure what you buy is actually Native made. "Look for contemporary art and jewelry, not antiquities which could have been obtained illegally or unethically," she said. "the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 makes it illegal for non-Natives to sell art, craft, or jewelry falsely suggesting it is Native made, a Native American product, or the product of a particular Native American tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization in the U.S. A reputable dealer or artist can give you a written guarantee of authenticity."
Read Books by Native Authors
Our staff put together the below list of children’s books written by Indigenous authors.
Hester also recommends checking out scholar Debbie Reese's book lists on American Indians in Childrens Literature.
Shares how the power of love strengthens two siblings who live in residential school.
Celebrates happiness and invites children to reflect on the little things in life that bring them joy.
Celebrates every child and the joy babies bring to the world.
A young First Nations girl is sent away to a residential school and is determined not to forget who she is and where she came from.
Count your kisses with baby in this delightful rhyming board book in English and Plains Cree.
Spend the day picking wild blueberries with Clarence and his grandmother and meet ant, spider, and fox in a beautiful woodland landscape.
Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences.
Celebrate the stories of a diverse group pf Indigenous people in the US and Canada, both them ore well-known and the not-so-widely recognized.
Affirming story of how a contemporary Native America girl turns to her family and community to help her perform the jingle dance at the powwow.
The best days of summer end at the powwow, but Windy Girl takes the revelry of the gathering one step farther, into a dreamworld where the dancers and singers are dogs.
A bold and lyrical picture book about protecting nature's most sacred resources.
This lyrical picture book celebrates the bonds of a Cherokee family and the bravery of history-making women pilots.
Expresses the author's gratitude for all that surrounds him and his family.
When Regina's Umpqua tribe is legally terminated and her family must relocate from Oregon to Los Angeles, she goes on a quest to understand her identity as an Indian despite being so far from home.
Tells the story of a post-colonial food that is a shared tradition for Native American families all across the North American continent.
A powerful story of an intergenerational friendship founded on a shared love of arts and crafts.
A girl uncovers a secret that connects her to her Native American heritage, and it throws everything she knows about her family into question.
An engaging look at how the animals, people, and seasons within an ecosystem are intertwined.
Shanyaak'utlaax: Salmon Boy comes from an ancient Tlingit story that teaches about respect for nature, animals and culture.
Finding circles everywhere, a grandfather and his granddaughter meditate on the cycles of life and nature.
Learn about colors in English as well as in Cree, along with the pronunciation.
At a very strict school in Indigenous Nation, everyone but Holden stays in line until they reach the door at the end of the school day.
Go on a Mission to Space with Chickasaw astronaut John Herrington, as he shares his flight on the space shuttle Endeavour and his thirteen-day mission to the international Space Station.
In Navajo families, the first person to make a new baby laugh hosts the child’s First Laugh Ceremony. Who will earn the honor in this story?
Based on a true story, this picture book tells the story of a determined Ojibwe grandmother who walked around all of the Great Lakes to protect our water.
This beautiful bedtime poem describes the gifts given to a newborn baby by all the animals of the Arctic.
A powerful story of the daily life of Standing Rock’s young water protectors.
Hiawatha was a strong and articulate Mohawk who was chosen to translate the Peacemaker’s message of unity for the five warring Iroquois nations during the 14th century.
Traces the history of Native/ Indigenous people of North America from the time of creation to the present.
A little girl sets out to help her grandfather discover the Cree language that was stolen from him when he was sent away to residential school as a boy.