It’s so easy to get lost in a book that we often forget not everyone is equally represented in the book world. Publishers Weekly’s 2019 Industry Salary Survey shows that 84% of the publishing industry is white, meaning that only 16% of the industry is people of color. Even worse: only 23% of children’s books published in 2018 featured a person of color as the lead.
Representation in literature is important, and it must be fought for. This Native American Heritage Month, we encourage you to read stories from native authors. The authors below all bring their cultures and histories to life with the power of the storytellers before them.
1) Cherie Dimaline
Cherie Dimaline’s first short story, Seven Gifts for Cedar, was published in 2010. She has since published multiple short stories and novels and is best known for The Marrow Thieves, a harrowing portrayal of Indigenous colonization. Set in a dystopian future, Indigenous people are the only ones who can still dream, and they are hunted for their bone marrow.
Dimaline is a member of the Georgian Bay Métis Nation. The Marrow Thieves won the 2017 Kirkus Prize for Young Adult Literature and the 2018 Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature. You can find her on Twitter @cherie_dimaline.
2) Tommy Orange
Tommy Orange is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. His debut novel, There There, was published in 2018 and is considered an instant classic. There There follows twelve characters whose narratives come together at the Big Oakland Powwow. It has won the American Book Award and was named a New York Times Best Book of the Year. You can read a sample chapter, “A Letter to Marlon Brando About Putting an Indian on the Oscar Stage,” on The Nation. You can find him on Twitter @thommyorange.
3) Angeline Boulley
Angeline Boulley’s debut novel, Firekeeper’s Daughter, was sold at a 12-bidder auction in 2019 and is to be published in Spring 2021. When eighteen-year-old Daunis witnesses the murder of a loved one, she must use her science geekery and knowledge about her Ojibwe culture to protect her tribal community before she loses anyone else.
Boulley is an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. She participated in the 2019 We Need Diverse Books mentorship program, where she’s been working with Franciso X. Stork. You can find her on Twitter @FineAngeline.
4) Daniel H. Wilson
Daniel H. Wilson has been writing since 2005 with the publication of How to Survive a Robot Uprising. He writes in multiple genres, including comics and short stories, and is best known for Robopocalypse (2011) and its sequel, Robogenesis (2014).
Wilson is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He has multiple Masters in Robotics and Machine Learning. Wilson has won the Alex Awards from the Young Adult Library Services Association in 2012 for Robopocalypse and in 2018 for The Clockwork Dynasty. You can find him on Twitter @danielwilsonpdx.
5) Joshua Whitehead
Joshua Whitehead (he/him) is a two-spirit, Oji-Cree member of the Peguis First Nation. His writings explore LGBTQA+ themes in a First Nations setting. His debut poetry collection, Full-Metal Indigiqueer, was published in 2017.
Whitehead’s debut novel, Jonny Appleseed, was published in 2018 and won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction. You can find him on Twitter @JWhitehead204.