Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Notable Native People by Adrienne Keene
on October 5, 2021
Genres: Non Fiction
Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Celebrate the lives, stories, and contributions of Indigenous artists, activists, scientists, athletes, and other changemakers in this beautifully illustrated collection. From luminaries of the past, like nineteenth-century sculptor Edmonia Lewis--the first Black and Native American female artist to achieve international fame--to contemporary figures like linguist jessie little doe baird, who revived the Wampanoag language, Notable Native People highlights the vital impact Indigenous dreamers and leaders have made on the world.
This informative and inspiring collection also offers accessible primers on important Indigenous issues, from the legacy of colonialism and cultural appropriation to food sovereignty, land and water rights, and more. Notable Native People is an indispensable read for people of all backgrounds seeking to learn about Native American heritages, histories, and cultures, and will educate and inspire readers of all ages.
I don’t see many books spotlighting Native American people, particularly contemporary Native American movers and shakers, so this book caught my eye right away. I appreciated that the book was written by a Cherokee woman who curated a thoughtful, eclectic group from a wide spectrum of backgrounds, tribal and social identities from among the 574 federally recognized American tribal nations and some non-recognized tribes including the most recent Kanaka Maoli in Hawaiian Islands and Alaska Natives when their territories were annexed. Each bio identifies the person’s name, tribe by the recognized designation or what the tribe calls themselves, like Kanaka Maoli, rather than past common tribe names, Hawaiian, and their contribution to society. I recognized a few, but was excited to learn about the many more who were chosen for the book.
Notable Native People was a celebration of these groundbreaking lives, but also a good education tool. The author presented a series of short bio pieces accompanied by a pictorial graphic of each and then placed informational bits between the sets of bios. Indigenous, external and settler colonialism, cultural appropriation, and issues such as climate changed, sacred sites, missing and murdered women at higher rate than other ethnic groups and more are addressed.
Some of the contributions of these spotlighted people were intriguing like ‘seed keeper’ for indigenous foods and farmers who work to restore the indigenous growing methods, ‘culture keeper’, and language revitalization (linguistics who researched and restored the languages to their tribes).
All in all, I was glad to get to know a bit about these amazing individuals from the past and present who worked to preserve their culture and even their group tribal identity, to learn about what they faced historically and now, and to better grasp where they are coming. I thought this short book did a fab job of conveying all this from the easy-read style to the heart the author showed in introducing the world to her people. I will definitely be hunting down the author’s posts and check out her pod cast work for more.
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