Native American Heritage Month. We have compiled a list of books, movies, and YouTube videos that are appropriate for a variety of age groups. Learn more about the first known people to live in this country, their history and some of the art and music they are making today.

Native American Heritage Month

Indigenous people are known to have been on this continent for 35,000 years.  At one time, some scholars say there were more than 100 million Indigenous people living in the country now called the United States and they had extensive trade with other tribes throughout Central and South America. Today approximately 7.1 million people are members of the 642 Native Tribes living in the U.S. There is a history that has led to this decline in population. Some of the stories and movies listed below show parts of that history, the obstacles the Tribes have faced, their accomplishments and the richness of their cultures and traditions. 

California has the second largest Native population in the country behind Arizona. San Diego County has 18 reservations with 17 Tribal governments – the most tribes in any single county in the US. On Coronado Island, the Kumeyaay were the first known people and sustained fishing villages from North Island to the Coronado Cays. Despite the treaties the US signed agreeing to protect Native rights, the local government began deporting the Kumeyaay from Coronado. The last six Native families living in Coronado were removed from their homes and deported to the Mesa Grande Reservation in 1902. We have compiled a list of books, movies and YouTube videos that are appropriate for a variety of age groups. Learn more about the first known people to live in this country, their history and some of the art and music they are making today.

Book Store -

This bookstore is owned by an American Indian author and has a rich list of books that can be bought directly from her store.

Books for children

Bowwow Powwow by Brenda Child of the Chippewa Nation tells of a child’s dream of a powwow where all the characters are dogs.  For ages 2-7

Children of the First People: Voices of Alaska’s Native Kids by Tricia Brown Hear the modern stories of 8 children who live in 8 different tribes in Alaska and learn about the lives they live.  Ages 8 and up.

Finding My Dance by Ria Thundercloud of the Ho-Chunk Nation & Sandia Pueblo tells about her joy of dance and her evolution into the dancer she was meant to be.  An illustrated book for ages 4-8.  (2022)

Fry Bread by Kevin Maillard, a member of the Seminole Nation, tells about Native American culture, community, history, and family using fry bread as the main focus. At the back of this book is a deeper history of tribal history for adults.  For children 2-5.

Games of Silence (2005) by Louise Erdrich  The 2nd in the Birchbark House series about Omakayas, a young Ojibwe girl in the mid-1980s.  Ages 8-12.

Native Americans In History by Jimmy Beason, member of Osage Nation, highlights the great accomplishments of 15 Native Americans such as the first woman Chief of a Tribe, the first Native American prima ballerina, Olympic athletes, warriors, poets, astronauts and those who fought for their lands.   Ages 9 and up.

Tallchief: America’s Prima Ballerina by Maria Tallchief who tells her story of growing up on an Osage Indian reservation whose tribe members were the wealthiest people in the world. Her love of music and dance led her to eventually joining the Russian Ballet and becoming the most famous American-born ballerina of all time.  Ages 5 and up.

We Are The Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom  Native American author tells the story of one little girl who takes a stand for the water. 2021 Caldecott Medal winner. For ages 2-7.

Books for Older Teens/Adults

An American Sunrise  (2019) by Joy Harlo, of the Muscogee Creek Nation and the U.S. Poet Laureate. Poems from her life experiences and her look back to May 28, 1830, when President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act to force her ancestors from their homes to move West.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee   (1970)  By Dee Brown, a history of the US government driving the Sioux Indians off their lands in the Dakotas in the 1890s. 

Code Talker by Chester Nez, a Navajo code talker in World War ll, tells his story of working with 29 Navajos who volunteered for the Marines and developed the only spoken code in modern warfare that was never broken. Chester was punished for speaking his native language as a child in boarding school but later he used that same language to help the US win the war over Japan in the South Pacific.

Crazy Brave by Joy Harlo, a member of the Creek Tribe who is the US Poet Laureate. Her story of coming of age is told in the context of her ancestors and their influence on her. (2013)

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann. An overview of life in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus. (2005)

Restoring the Kinship Worldview: Indigenous Voices Introduce 28 Precepts for Rebalancing Life on Planet Earth by Wahinkpe Topa and Darcia Narvaez, Ph.D. The Indigenous worldview and its wisdom include values and concepts that are key for the Earth’s and humans’ survival. This book shares 28 speeches and writings from Indigenous leaders that point the way to well-being for all.  (2022)

What The Elders Have Taught Us:  Alaska Native Ways written by 10 Native Alaskans.  While Alaskan tribes are culturally diverse, they share some common values. These 10 essays are about 10 shared traditional values common to all tribes. The authors share lessons that they were taught by their elders.  For teens.

Where White Men Fear to Tread by Russell Means, an Oglala Lakota, tells his story of growing up and his experiences as a kid, activist, artist, actor, musician, and his involvement with the American Indian Movement. (1996)   For adults