Library Update: Celebrating Native American Heritage Month

Tallie Gray
Grand County Library District
Sample of young adult titles by Native American authors. Books can be found at your local library or online at
Grand County Library District/Courtesy Photo

I was drawn to Indigenous authors, artists, and philosophers long before becoming director of library resources for Grand County Library District.

In 2008, I attended a powwow at the Denver Coliseum. It was not my first powwow, nor my last, but perhaps my most memorable. It was there that I met Ehanamani (“Walks Among”) aka Dr. A. C. Ross, a retired Army paratrooper, professor emeritus and author of the book “Mitakuye Oyasin: ‘We are all related’ America before Columbus, based on the oral history of 33 tribes.” My signed copy is a mess. It is covered with coffee stains and has dog-eared and marked-up pages. Yet, it has never made it close to one of my many boxes of books donated to Friends of Grand County Library, and not just because of the fact that they would only accept a new or gently used copy to sell.

This award-winning book compares Native American myths and legends with other world philosophies and religions. Ross, a Santee Dakota, explains the importance of using both sides of your brain to enrich your education and thinking, as well as your emotional and spiritual life. The ideas in this book had a major impact in how I parented my son and helped guide me as a teacher.

I need to revisit this book, and not just because November is National Native American Heritage Month.

I am thrilled to see two of my favorite children’s books I sold when I had my retail store and loved to use in my classroom in the library district’s online catalog. They are “Native American animal stories” and “Native American stories,” both written by Joseph Bruchac. These folktales come from many Native American cultures and delight readers’ imaginations. While they’re perfect for elementary school students, the uplifting stories will have all ages captivated in the interconnections of human beings and the natural world. Like “Mitakuye Oyasin,” my personal copies are treasures that I will not be donating anytime soon.

Another great read, “Firekeeper’s Daughter,” is written by an Anishinaabe author Angeline Boulley. This modern-day crime novel was named one of the top 100 young adult novels of all time by Time Magazine and has won numerous awards. The strong, 18-year-old biracial Indigenous woman reminds me of a modern Nancy Drew, my childhood heroine. Although there is a lot of heartstring pulling, due to some dark topics surrounding Native communities and social injustices, there are also plenty of rays of optimism as the reader learns from and grows with the main character.

There are many more extraordinary books to read by or about Native Americans, just as there are a plethora of reasons to celebrate contributions made by Native Americans. To do so, here are some GCLD resources to explore:

  • Access Grand passes to Grand County Historical Association Museums, History Colorado Center, and Denver Museum of Nature and Science
  • PIKA, the online catalog at, browse the Native American Heritage Month category to view titles to pique your interest
  • AtoZ Food America, an online resource by World Trade Press, has Cherokee, Navajo and Sioux recipes along with writings on Native American cultural pillars, history, influences, historical timelines and medicinal foods
  • The Britannica Library Reference Center, Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection, Universal Class, and Kanopy can also provide a wealth of information

How are you celebrating Native American Heritage Month? Please share by emailing

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