Most of my research into our Native American literature collection has focused on the very earliest publications from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but the majority of our recent acquisitions have been of newer books. When we state that our goal is to document as comprehensively as possible the full range of publications by Indigenous writers of North America, that includes everything from obscure pamphlets of the nineteenth century to books for children published in the last decade. I was just about to head to the stacks to shelve a handful of freshly cataloged books when I thought I ought to share a handful of these items with the world.
This copy of Rabbit’s Snow Dance by James & Joseph Bruchac was a gift to the collection from Professor Lisa Brooks. It was published in 2012 and the copy in our collection will remain as crisp and clean as new for generations to come. I like to imagine a student or researcher coming to examine our copy many years from now and recalling their own copy of this book that they loved so much they read it to pieces. One reason books for children are often very rare and collectible is that children tend to be very hard on their books.
Stories about “the Little People” can be found throughout the collection, such as Charles Eastman’s “The Dance of the Little People” in Red Hunters and the Animal People (1904). Here is a more recent story of the Little People — a collaboration between Joseph Bruchac and Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel: Makiawisug: The Gift of the Little People (1997).
In addition to retellings of traditional tales, some of our books for children contain lessons about traditional crafts, such as Kunu’s Basket (2012):
Others aim to preserve and pass on Indigenous languages. Thanks to the Animals (2005) is written in English, but the publisher’s web site includes an audio file of Allen Sockabasin reading the story in the Passamaquoddy language.
And then there are stories that are drawn from contemporary life, such as Robert Peters’ Da Goodie Monsta (2009). He says of the story’s origin “Da Goodie Monsta was written when my son, Robert Jr. was only three. He woke up from a nap and told me of a dream he had about a monster. ‘Did he scare you?’ I asked. ‘No’ replied Robert Jr. ‘He was a good monster.'”
These five titles are just a small sample of the growing number of books for children included in our collection of books by Native American writers. They will now take their place on the shelves alongside works by Charles Eastman, Zitkala-Sa, and (my personal favorite) Acee Blue Eagle’s Echogee: The Little Blue Deer (1971).