Historical Fiction – Focus on: Native American and First Nations People

Focus on: Native American and First Nations People
The Redemption of Oscar Wolf
by James Bartleman

When impulsive actions fueled by rage lead to family tragedy, 13-year-old Oscar Wolf of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation in Ontario, flees to the United States. There, his attempts to atone bring him considerable worldly success, yet leave him culturally and spiritually adrift. He embarks on a series of transformations — from Depression-era prizefighter to decorated World War II veteran to university scholar-athlete to diplomat — only to come to the realization that he must come to terms with the past before he can fully live in the present.

The Orenda
by Joseph Boyden

Set in 17th-century Ontario during the French conquest of Canada, this sweeping, richly detailed historical epic unfolds through the eyes of three individuals: Huron (Wyandot) warrior Bird, his Iroquois captive Snow Falls, and Jesuit Missionary Père Christophe. As the French exploit long-standing conflicts between the Huron and the Iroquois to gain control of their respective territories, shifting alliances between all three groups irrevocably alter the landscape of North America and the lives of its indigenous people. For those interested in Canadian history, Annie Proulx’s Barkskins, though more focused on the experiences of European colonizers, also explores this period and setting.

The Plague of Doves
by Louise Erdrich

In 1911, the murder of a white farming family in Pluto, North Dakota leads to the lynching of three Ojibwe men, an event that casts a long shadow over the descendants of both the (wrongly accused) men and the lynch mob. Evelina Harp, a part-Ojibwe, part-white girl growing up in the 1960s and ’70s, learns the story from her Mooshum (grandfather), widely known as a repository of family and tribal history whose personal connection to the tragedy has made him who he is. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize when it was published in 2008, The Plague of Doves is part of a loose trilogy along with The Round House and the recently published LaRose.

People of the Longhouse
by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear

When Yellowtail Village is raided by the enemy warriors, 11-year-old Odion and his sister Tutelo are taken captive and delivered to Gannajero the Trader, a woman rumored to use children’s bodies in the practice of witchcraft. As the siblings endure slavery, their parents, War Chief Koracoo and Deputy Gonda, search for them. Set among the Northern Iroquois tribes of 15th-century North America, People of the Longhouse is the 1st book in a four-volume series that focuses on the lives of Iroquois Confederacy founders Dekanawida, Hiyawento (Hiawatha), and Jigonsaseh; it continues with The Dawn Children, followed by The Broken Land and People of the Black Sun.

House of Purple Cedar
by Tim Tingle

For 11-year-old Rose Goode, growing up in Skullyville’s Choctaw community in pre-statehood Oklahoma, 1896 is a bad year: first, an arsonist burns down her school, killing 20 of her classmates; later, Amafo, her beloved grandfather, is severely beaten by the town Marshal, an event with far-reaching consequences. As conflict between Skullyville residents and land-grabbing nahullos (white men) escalates, Rose and her family fear for their survival, while clinging to the hope that better times will come. For another novel featuring Native American communities in what is now Oklahoma, check out Margaret Verble’sMaud’s Line, about a 1930s Cherokee woman who longs to escape her hardscrabble life on a government allotment.

List created 7/25/16 – James Hartmann

Adapted from Nextreads.

Posted in Adult Staff Picks, Reading Lists and tagged , , .