In America, we are the worst. We celebrate white heroes, we fancy ourselves the saviors of the planet, we decidedly ignore the things that have made it possible for us to exist as a thriving world power.
Chris Rock had a bit where he asks if you'd ever met two American Indians. Chances are, you haven't. And there's a terrible explanation for why. So, the least you can do is support their art. This is a small list of books by Native writers that you need to read, just to do the bare minimum.
Field of Honor - DL Birchfield
It speaks volumes about the state of cultural appreciation for Native culture in America that there are but a handful of Field of Honor's cover images online
Regardless of the lack of appreciation or recognition offered to this novel by Google, this is a book you should absolutely read. It is a strange, semi-science fiction story about a half-native army deserter who falls ass-backwards into an underground society of Choctaws. Within this undergorund society, the game Ishtaboli is the defining mark of status, and the Choctaws are protected from cultural genocide by their secretive existence.
This work is an effort in satire on the utopian genre, and beautifully crafted.
Miko Kings - LeAnne Howe
This book, a work of speculative fiction, is framed within the time-travel genre. A young woman in 1969 is researching and discussing the Miko Kings, a Choctaw and Chickasaw baseball team in the early 1900s.
The novel examines how baseball exists as a form of re-creation for the Natives playing it, as a way of compensating for the ongoing fragmentation of their land by the state, and the diminishing hope of tribal sovereignty over the reserved space. The novel explores the oral tradition and its relevance in a more modern context as well as the importance of remembering where you came from.
Bone Game - Louis Owens
When a series of murders crop up in the Californian town that Cole McCurtain calls his home, he is at first unaffected. Though he keeps having these bizarre dreams about a man painted black and white who carries dice-like bones. When his daughter comes into harm's path, though, he is compelled to do something about what's happening.
Mystery, intrigue, the vague sense of ennui that comes from a mixed heritage and divorce. This novel blends native tradition with the modern day to create a narrative that is current, though constantly relating back to the arcane.
Indian Killer - Sherman Alexie
Probably the go-to author when discussing Native American writers, Sherman Alexie did not build that reputation on sand. Indian Killer is his first major novel, published in 1996. When a string of grisly murders rocks Seattle, tensions rise as the media dubs the murderer the "Indian Killer" as he scalps his victims.
Alexie paints the picture of racial bias and sensational media in this, his first novel. The tensions and hatreds expressed in this work are just as relevant (if not more so) today as they were in the late 90s.
Ceremony - Leslie Marmon Silko
Published in 1977, Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko is an examination of war and the effects of war on a person. Tayo, a half-white, half-laguna man returns home from WWII, suffering from PTSD. The novel demonstrates his road to recovery; through substance abuse and trauma back to the tradition of the Laguna, the ceremonies that help resotre his spirit.
Ceremony is a beautiful book that illustrates the tolls that war takes on a person. It is reflective of the relationship between the American Indian and the American military, and the necessity to never forget where you come from, as well as the restorative powers of tradition.