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Books for National Native American Heritage Month

November 1st, 2017 · Jennie Yang · Staff Recommendations

Did you know there were probably more people living in the Americas than in Europe in 1491? Did you know the corn the Pilgrims harvested and enjoyed at the First Thanksgiving was domesticated around 1000 A.D? It was such a sophisticated breeding process that scientists regard it as man’s first feat of genetic engineering.

Native Americans have been sharing their knowledge and expertise in various ways for hundreds of years. From helping the Pilgrims survive their first year in the New World by showing them where to fish and how to plant corn, to providing vital communications during WWI and WWII by using their tribal languages to send coded messages about troop movements and enemy positions, to making modern wonders by climbing steel and erecting iron up in the clouds for constructing New York City skyscrapers and bridges, Native Americans have been making crucial contributions to our nation from colonial time to current days.

Many Native Americans, including women and children, played a pivotal role in building peaceful relationships between their people and the European settlers and their descendants.  Forty five years after the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, a young man of the Wampanoag tribe, became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard University. In 1804, Sacajawea, a young Shoshone woman with her infant, accompanied Lewis and Clark on an epic journey that altered our nation’s history forever. What was life like for Caleb and for Sacajawea? What challenges did they face living in two cultures with completely different languages and lifestyles? What were the experiences of other Native Americans before and after them?

Read the captivating novels and fascinating nonfiction books highlighted below to learn about the struggles and sacrifices of Native Americans, to cherish their memories, and to honor their achievements. While you nourish your body with turkey and pumpkin pie at the Thanksgiving feast, let these great writers enrich your mind, deepen your understanding, and take you on a grand journey.

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