Summer reading list 2022: Books by Indigenous authors
The Eagle's summer reading list highlights environmentalism through the lens of Indigenous activism and cultural practices
This summer's reading list brings to light four Indigenous leaders, activists and scientists. This collection of environmentally focused books introduces remedies to the current climate crisis using generational Indigenous practices that are often overlooked or marginalized in today’s westernized society.
“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer
“Braiding Sweetgrass” is a book written by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a plant ecologist and Potawatomi Citizen. Throughout an immersive experience, the audience learns how to care and connect with Mother Nature. As an Indigenous woman and environmental scientist, Kimmerer offers a new perspective on how to combat the climate crisis.
Kimmerer shares with readers teachings and prophecies that serve as instructions for future generations and the fate of the earth in Indigenous culture.The first teaching is about Sky Woman, their ancestral gardener and creator. Next, she speaks about pecans and their vital importance to the health and history of Indigenous people. Finally, she talks about tending sweetgrass, teaching her daughters to learn how to garden so they can have a mother long after she is gone. In her eyes, a garden is the way land says “I love you.” In the book, she expresses that if everyone believed the Earth loved them, they would not harm what gives them love.
Exploring the connection between living things and human efforts to cultivate a more sustainable world through Indigenous traditions is vital to the healing of Mother Nature. Kimmerer’s mission is to reinstate this connection to help the preservation of Earth going forward.
“Braiding Sweetgrass” can be bought online at Birchbark Books, a Native American owned and operated book store in Minnesota.
“Streaming” by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke
“Streaming” captures the flow of consciousness between the Earth and the individual, reiterating that “Water is Life.” Loss, memory and the fate of the earth are embodied with force in this poetry collection. Coke reminds people of the Indigenous ideologies that fell opposite their oppressors and limited their rights to Indigenous practices while violently severing their connection with Mother Nature.
Expanding upon her Indigenous background and knowledge, Coke writes with passion and urgency about the importance of loving their land and restoring a faithful connection with Mother Nature.
“Streaming,” the poetry collection, can be found at the World Literature Today Magazine.
“There There” by Tommy Orange
“There There,” written by Tommy Orange, who is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, is a novel about 12 characters who travel back to the Big Oakland Powwow Lands to regain a sense of self and remedy a connection with Mother nature. Plagued with addiction, abuse and suicide — “There There” takes the readers through a journey of multigenerational oppression, violence, and identity.
This novel embodies the healing powers of Mother Nature and the struggle being stuck between living a life that is defined by loss and the memory of loss.
Tommy writes with passion, poetry and astute rage as he paints the memories of pain while also preaching the benevolence of hope, strength, and ancestral wisdom.
“There There” can be purchased online at GoodMinds.com, an Indigenous first nation owned bookstore in Brantford, Ontario.
“As Long as Grass Grows” by Dina Gilio-Whitaker
“As Long as Grass Grows” depicts the resistance to environmental injustice and a movement to accept and use Indigenous activism and knowledge.
Dina Gilio-Whitaker, an Indigenous researcher and activist, writes about the need for “Indigenized Environmental Justice.” Gilio-Whitaker emphasizes urgency through explaining the struggles for food, treaty violations, water insecurity and the lack of protection for sacred sites.
“As Long as Grass Grows” highlights Indigenous women who have led the Environmentalism movement. Readers are taken through centuries of Indigenous people fighting back against the government and corporate incursions on their native land, while also introducing sustainable Indigenous practices.
“As Long as Grass Grows” may be purchased at Iron Dog Books, an Indigenous owned bookstore in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Tucked away in these books is ancestral wisdom that teaches readers how to make a meaningful connection with Mother Nature. Delving into Indigenous literature is crucial to not only learning more about culture and history, but also to unlearn colonized stereotypes of Indigenous peoples. Indigenous literature reflects the contemporary issues of how westernized societies have altered history. Indigenous people’s profound and reciprocal relationship with nature is evident in these readings.