Art and Artists: American Indian Heritage

Meet American Indian/First Nations children, families, and artists who are keeping their heritage and stories alive through their artwork. From the paintings of Pueblo children in New Mexico to the knitting of Cowichan wool sweaters in British Columbia, these books celebrate not only the importance of passing traditions down across generations but the time spent together learning and sharing the craft.

A Rainbow at Night: The World in Words and Pictures

Age Level: 6-9

After teaching, or "coaching," art in various Diné (Navajo) communities in Utah for 10 years, Hucko helped put together an exhibition called "Have You Ever Seen a Rainbow at Night?" in which Diné children expressed themselves through graphic arts and words. This book presents 23 full-color reproductions of drawings and paintings from the collection, along with a black-and-white photo of each artist, his or her comments about the picture, Hucko's introduction to themes found in each piece of art, and ideas for readers to think about or draw. — School Library Journal

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

Native families from Nations across the continent gather at the Dance for Mother Earth Powwow in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Edited by award-winning and bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith, this collection of intersecting stories by both new and veteran Native writers bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride. Created in partnership with We Need Diverse Books.

Ancient Thunder

By: Leo Yerxa
Age Level: 6-9

Yerxa, a Canadian of Ojibwe ancestry, celebrates the relationship between horses and the native people of the Great Plains in a series of three-mystically themed montages. At the center of each picture is a paper fringed shirt, crafted from handmade paper and modeled on those worn by the First Peoples; the shirt serves as both backdrop and landscape for Yerxa's lean, schematic portraits of horses, usually depicted in groups at full gallop. — Publishers Weekly

Arctic Memories

Age Level: 6-9

Normee Ekoomiak is an Inuk artist from Northern Quebec. Michael J. Mazza writes, "This book contains full-color reproductions of Ekoomiak's paintings and stitched fabric creations. Each piece of visual art is accompanied by an explanatory mini-essay by the artist. Ekoomiak's vivid art depicts the Inuit people, the natural environment, and the animal life of the Arctic." Bilingual Inuktitut/English.

Blueberry Rapids

Age Level: 6-9

Meet Giniw, an eight year old Ojibwe orphan, who loves to draw. Encouraged by his grandmother, he makes a Kikiweon (banner) which tells the story of Giniw's unusual experience at Blueberry Rapids. The Kikiweon proclaims him as a Picture-Keeper of the Anishinaabeg. The book is illustrated with twelve beautiful paintings by the author, a visual artist, writer, storyteller and singer-songwriter who lives in Guelph, Ontario.

Celebrate My Hopi Toys

My Hopi Toys
Illustrated by: Emmett Navakuku
Age Level: 0-3
Language: English, Hopi

"We know how to count. One lighting stick. Two dancing sticks" Celebrate my Hopi Toys written in Hopi and English by Hopi language teacher Anita Poleahla introduces counting skills to children with patterned text and colorful illustrations of Hopi toys by Hopi artist Emmett Navakuku.

Children of Clay: A Family of Pueblo Potters

Illustrated by: Bill Steen
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

A beautifully illustrated short work on the life of a family of potters from Santa Clara Pueblo. The book follows Gia Rose as she and her relatives drive to the mountains to dig for clay; prepare it for working; and fashion pieces that are then polished, sanded, and fired. In addition to the many large, full-color photographs, there are maps of the area and of the 19 pueblos in New Mexico. — School Library Journal (We Are Still Here: Native Americans Today)

Greet the Dawn: The Lakota Way

Lakota riders on horses
Age Level: 6-9

Dawn is a time to celebrate with a smiling heart, to start a new day in the right way, excited for what might come. Birds sing and dance, children rush to learn, dewdrops glisten from leaves, and gradually the sun warms us. Each time the sun starts a new circle, we can start again as well. All these things are part of the Lakota way, a means of living in balance. Through his artwork and verse, interspersed with the Lakota language, S. D. Nelson offers young readers a joyous way of appreciating their culture and surroundings.

Just Like Me: Stories and Self-Portraits by Fourteen Artists

Portraits of artists
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: This remarkable collection highlights the art and inspirational paths of 14 outstanding artists who, over the course of 20 years, have shared their art and lives with children. Each spread comprises a self-portrait, as well as the artist's personal story and reflections on what their art means to them. Artists include George Littlechild, Maya Christina Gonzalez, Enrique Chagoya, Rodolfo Morales, Tomie Arai, and Hideo Yoshida.

Kunu's Basket: A Story from Indian Island

Illustrated by: Susan Drucker
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: Young Kunu wants to make a pack basket on his own. He's watched his dad and his grandfather make baskets on Indian Island, but now that he's trying to make one for himself, it's not as easy as he thought it would be. Kunu isn't a quitter, but he gets so frustrated that he has to go outside to cool off. When his grandfather asks Kunu to help him with some basket-making tasks, Kunu comes to understand that it is the tradition in his family for one generation to help the next. His grandfather shows him the way, and at last Kunu's first basket is something to celebrate.

Navajo: Visions and Voices Across the Mesa

With these heartfelt paintings, poems and memoirs, the noted Diné (Navajo) artist fulfills his stated goal of taking the reader 'into the corners of my world, the Navajo world.' Similar in conception to George Littlechild's This Land Is My Land, this book places more emphasis on the traditional and spiritual, its contemporary setting notwithstanding. The sacred intertwines with the everyday; topics here range from storytelling, a solar eclipse and a healing ritual to riding in a truck and attending a tribal fair. — Publishers Weekly

Shaped By Her Hands: Potter Maria Martinez

Shaped By Her Hands: Potter Maria Martinez
Illustrated by: Aphelandra
Age Level: 6-9

The most renowned Native American Indian potter of her time, Maria Povika Martinez learned pottery as a child under the guiding hands of her ko-ōo, her aunt. She grew up to discover a new firing technique that turned her pots black and shiny, and made them ― and Maria ― famous. This inspiring story of family and creativity, co-authored by Martinez's eldest great-grandchild, illuminates how Maria's belief in sharing her love of clay brought success and joy from her New Mexico Pueblo to people all across the country.

Songs from the Loom: A Navajo Girl Learns to Weave (We Are Still Here)

Reviewer Tracy Robert writes, "Photographer and writer Monty Roessel…documented his ten year old daughter, Jaclyn, as her grandmother taught her to weave. The fifth grader learned about the practical aspects of weaving; like shearing sheep, carding and spinning wool, natural dyes, and weaving techniques. Nali Ruth (Grandmother) also taught Jaclyn about important Diné (Navajo) stories related to weaving and the significance of each tool." (We Are Still Here: Native Americans Today)

The Cloud Artist: A Choctaw Tale

White dots coming from a girls hands and connecting with a cloud
Illustrated by: Merisha Sequoia Clark
Age Level: 3-6
Language: Choctaw

Born with the gift of painting with the clouds, Leona, a little Choctaw girl, uses the sky as her canvas to the delight of her people. When a traveling man learns of her gift and invites her to join the carnival, the Cloud Artist must make a decision about what kind of artist she wants to be.  This picture book is part historical fiction, a lot of fantasy, and a little dab of tall tale. Over thirty follow-up activities are available on author's website.   In English with Choctaw translation included.

The Elders Are Watching

Illustrated by: Roy Henry Vickers
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: As Native elders have advised from time immemorial, this is a gentle plea to respect the natural environment. When the award-winning poet David Bouchard first saw the artwork of First Nations artist Roy Henry Vickers, he was struck by Vickers' reverence for nature, the vibrancy of his colors, and his perceptive understanding of Canada's rugged West Coast. In this new edition of their collaboration, their vision is as fresh and relevant today as it was when the book was first published.

This Land Is My Land

In his own words, paintings, and family photographs, acclaimed Native American artist George Littlechild takes young readers back in time to the first meeting between his Plains Cree ancestors and the first European settlers in North America. Through inspiring autobiographical stories accompanied by vivid, dramatic paintings, he recounts the history of his people and their relationship to the land, relating their struggles and triumphs with sensitivity, irony, and humor. Jane Addams Picture Book Award.

Walking on Earth and Touching the Sky: Poetry and Prose by Lakota Youth at Red Cloud Indian School

Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

This is an exceptional poetry collection written by Lakota students in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades at Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The historic school was founded in 1888 at the request of Chief Red Cloud of the Oglala Lakota. The poems enable readers to learn about the unique lives and heritage of students growing up in such distinctive circumstances and straddling cultures.

Yetsa's Sweater

Age Level: 6-9

On a fresh spring day, young Yetsa, her mother and her grandmother gather to prepare the sheep fleeces piled in Grandma's yard. As they clean, wash and dry the fleece, laughter and hard work connect the three generations. Through Yetsa's experience of each task, the reader joins this family in an old but vibrant tradition: the creation of Cowichan sweaters by Coast Salish knitters.