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Topic: Fiction about Native Americans

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Subject: Fiction about Native Americans
Date Posted: 7/27/2008 10:03 AM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 2,835
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Really like Tony Hillerman's series about the Cherokee Tribal Police. I ordr him new in hard cover from amazon on day of publication.

Sallie Bissell's series about the Cherokee Atlanta lawyer is very, very good and well written. The first, In the Forest of Harm, I found very scary and thrilling. I had to read it twice in the same year because I had rushed through it the first time. Her main character, Mary Crow, had not returned to the reservation since her grandmother came to get her after her mother's rape and murder when she was a teen. When she comes back, she is involved in solving that murder and a desperate race to save her friends while everyone is lost in ta National Forest in the Smokies. Don't start any of these books if you have to do something the next day or you will have to call in with book flu. They are all thrillers as well as mysteries.

LaFarge's Laughing Boy is a wonderful book, albeit very sad.

Date Posted: 7/27/2008 10:26 AM ET
Member Since: 4/11/2006
Posts: 830
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Although the author is controversial, I loved 'The Education of Little Tree' by Forrest Carter.  Supposedly a semi-autobiographical novel, it was later learned that Carter was a bigot and wrote speeches for Gov. George Wallace. 

For historical perspective, I've read wonderful recommendations about many of James Alexander Thom's books w/ Native Americans as main characters, particularly 'The Red Heart'.

And I have 'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee' on massive TBR pile.

Sadly, none of these are police procedurals, but I thought I'd suggest them.  Oh, and Sherman Alexie is a modern critics delight!

 ETA:  Louise Erdich is well known for her works.


Last Edited on: 7/27/08 10:27 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/27/2008 10:48 AM ET
Member Since: 6/13/2008
Posts: 13
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I found that I got tired of the Tony Hillerman books.  The murderer was never Native American, and as the pool of white people in the book was relatively small it was too easy to guess who-dun-it.

I have a couple of Sherman Alexie's waiting to be read.  I too have read, and reread, Bury My Heart. 

I can highly recommend I Heard The Owl Call My Name.  Very nice.  And the Dana Stabenow books are set in Alaska and have a Aluet (sp?) female detective.  I have enjoyed all of them.  Little Big Man is one of the best books I have ever read, and is in my top 50 all time faves.  I fell in love with Grandfather in that book, and am even attached to the much inferior movie with Dustin Hoffman and Chief Dan George.

But the book that blew me away is Ghost Fox.  I picked this off a rack of romance books about 30 years ago.  It had a very sexy cover, showing a white woman and an absolutely gorgeous Indian making love.  I thought woo-hoo and took it home expecting a torrid romance.  What I got was a scholarly book by a guy named James Houston, about a white woman kidnapped by Indians during the French and Indian wars.  It pulls no punches about the violence of the Indians and paints a pretty grim picture of how they really lived.  (As does Little Big Man).  However in the midst of this is a whopping romance, that absolutely thrilled me to the core.  I still own the same copy, with the same gorgeous Indian on the cover.  It is one of the books I will have with me on my deathbed.  I have never met anyone else who has read it.

Date Posted: 7/27/2008 1:52 PM ET
Member Since: 5/22/2005
Posts: 1,592
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Try Louise Erdrich. Her first book was Love Medicine. After I read it I was hooked and have read all of her books. She is my favorite author. I think you will like her books.

Date Posted: 7/27/2008 6:28 PM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
Posts: 13,991
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 I wish Louise Erhdich would go back to writing more books about Native Americans in the Southwest . (that was her who did some books in the early 90s, maybe then switched to other subjects? I often get her and another woman writer mixed up)

  But I never knew "Little Big Man" was a book.....that and Ghost Fox sound great; thanks!

 "The Wood Wife" has a strong element of contemporary fantasy/mythology, but it was also a terrific read focused on Native Americans Southwest.

  I also got tired of Tony Hillerman very fast; just a little too simple.

Date Posted: 7/27/2008 7:23 PM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 2,835
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I really like the Education of Little Tree, book and movie. Even though I was disappointed to find out about the fraud, it still is an excellent book about the destruction of NA culture as late as the 20th century.

The Eric Flint alternate histories: 1812: River of War and 1824: the Arkansas War both have great NA characters, as do Orson Scott Card's Alvin the Maker series. Oh, and SM Stirling's Nantucket series.

Native Americans do commit some of the crimes/murders in the Hillerman series.

Date Posted: 7/28/2008 7:32 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2008
Posts: 9,943
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Our own Bonnie Napoli has written SHADOWS OF THE ECLIPSE. After reading reviews of it I have put it on my Wish List (I'm #18). I may buy it before then.

Her profile is under "Bonnie"

Date Posted: 7/28/2008 8:23 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
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The Charlie Moon seres by James Doss is pretty good. Not high literature but certainly enjoyable. "Ceremony" by Leslie Marmon Silko is a classic and though I've not read it (yet), it's supposed to be really good.
Date Posted: 7/28/2008 8:25 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
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I love Tony Hillerman's Chee/Leaphorn books, probably because I spend a lot of time in Northern New Mexico and I have a great appreciation for Hopi and Navajo culture.
Date Posted: 7/28/2008 3:42 PM ET
Member Since: 3/15/2007
Posts: 362
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This is a little different from what you are discussing but I read this and I thought it was great.  There are some times when the author seems to go a little out of his way to make some political statements, but if you can overlook that, the story is fabulous. 


One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd (Paperback)

by Jim Fergus



Date Posted: 7/28/2008 7:05 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2008
Posts: 9,943
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One Thousand White Women is on my bookshelf, although I have not read it. My TBR list is so long right now I've listed some books I want to read with the hopes of getting back to them. Thus they are on my RL as well.

Date Posted: 7/28/2008 7:51 PM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 2,835
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And Dee Brown's Creek Mary's Blood

Date Posted: 7/28/2008 10:41 PM ET
Member Since: 4/11/2006
Posts: 830
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Dena - I think One Thousand White Women qualifies by having NA as central characters.  And to think women were put in mental institutions for such outrageous reasons.  Glad I live in the present.

Glad to hear you like Education of Little Tree also, JK.  I will look up the others you mentioned.

I was never interested in visiting the southwest until I read Hillerman's books.  His descriptions were enthralling for a midwesterner like me.


Date Posted: 7/29/2008 2:07 AM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
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I was sent on a business trip to Albuquerque for 3 weeks (to develop testing procedures for Y2K. How time flies). One of my first missions was to acquire the  map Hillerman keeps talking about. 3 copies: 1 for me, 1 for Daddy, and 1 for my brother. I also bought a lot of books about the Navajo because of Hillerman. I posted them and they were gone immediately. I like his other books as well. His memoir Seldom Disappointed was absolutely great.

Date Posted: 7/29/2008 5:16 PM ET
Member Since: 3/7/2006
Posts: 39
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Don Coldsmith's Spanish Bit series is a good series if you like books about Native Americans. It starts in the 1600s and follows through to the 1800s I believe. You really need to read the first book in the series to understand about the Spanish Bit.


Date Posted: 7/31/2008 10:40 AM ET
Member Since: 9/16/2005
Posts: 463
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I love the books by Lucia St. Clair Robson:

Walk In My Soul;  Ride The Wind;  Light A Distant Fire...to name some.  "Ride The Wind" was my favorite.   That one is a hist. fiction acc't of Cynthia Parkaer, mother of Quanah Parker, the last chief of the Comanches before the white men conquered them.   It's a great story although sad!

Walk In My Soul is about the Cherokee tribe ending with the Trail Of Tears, and Light A Distant Fire is about the Seminoles and how the Amercans tried to get them out of Florida. 

There is another book about the Apaches but can't think of the title right now.

Subject: two "oldies"
Date Posted: 8/2/2008 10:13 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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One really old book is Ramona, by Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885).  It's about Ramona, a girl raised by a foster mother, a  Spanish-American woman, in the "old West" and the Indian, Alejandro, whom Ramona loves and who loves Ramona.  It was published in 1939.

More recent is Thomas Sanchez's Rabbit Boss.  It's the story of about four generations of Native Americans out West.  The first thing that happens in the book is a scene in which a Native American, unobserved, witnesses some of the strange behavior of  some white people on a snow-coverered mountaintop (the Donner party).  One has to wonder what kind of monsters that observer would take them for . . .?

Date Posted: 8/2/2008 10:54 PM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 2,835
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Especially when you consider they were surrounded by food!

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 12:34 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 344
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I would second Louise Erdrich - and say maybe try Sherman Alexie?  Mostly short stories, but he's done a couple novels (and quite a bit of poetry) as well.

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 3:36 PM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2008
Posts: 497
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I love Sherman Alexie's writing. Although not a Native American, another great Southwestern writer is Rudolfo Anaya. His Sonny Baca series is enthralling (as I remember it). Oh -- and Leslie Marmon Silko's "Ceremony" is moving.

Last Edited on: 8/3/08 3:38 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/4/2008 12:49 AM ET
Member Since: 7/20/2007
Posts: 1,046
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Sue Harrison writes good books, set in Alaska and that area. Mother Earth Father Sky starts out the series i started out reading. I think i've read the first two books and i just haven't found the others yet (i haven't even looked here for them). I am pretty sure i have the first two books on my shelf.

I have a couple books by Linda Lay Schuyler, but i haven't read them yet.

I really love the First North Americans Series but Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear. A couple of them are very sad throughout but still very good. I've read most of them so far, i still have a few i haven't come across yet but i am always on the lookout as i shop around.

Anna Lee Waldo writes a series that goes between Wales and the druids Native Americans in Florida... very fictional but based on real events and people documented but yet unproven. I have only read one of them, Circle of Stars but it was an interesting read. Also on my shelf, as well.

I love prehistoric fiction, it's fascinating.

Date Posted: 8/5/2008 12:28 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2006
Posts: 316
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This list is a mix of fictioni and nonfiction at http://www.bluecorncomics.com/nabooks.htm. Scroll down for suggestions of authors and then articles. A big compilation.

Books by Mari Sandoz are http://www.paperbackswap.com/book/browse_advanced.php?k=mari+sandoz.

Her book about Crazy Horse is highly regarded. It's in the TBR stack and I will probably get to it in, say, 2018.

Last Edited on: 8/5/08 12:30 PM ET - Total times edited: 1