National Indigenous History Month

This June, the Ground Floor Display at the OISE Library highlights Indigenous children’s stories and scholarly material in celebration of National Indigenous History Month. June 21st is also National Indigenous People’s Day, a day for celebrating the heritage, diverse cultures, and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada. June 21st holds significance as the longest day of the year, also known as the summer solstice, which has historically been a traditional day of celebration for many Indigenous communities within Canada.  We hope this selection encourages readers and students to learn more about Indigenous history, perspectives and culture. All materials on display are available for borrowing!

For a full list of the materials on display, please see the Infusing Indigenous Perspectives in K-12 Teaching LibGuide.

Jingle Dancer  by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu tells the story of Jenna, a young member of the Muscogee (Creek Nation), living in a contemporary intertribal community. Jingle Dancer follows Jenna on her journey as she collects jingles for her dress so that she may dance in the upcoming powwow. Jenna asks the strong, educated female members of her community if she can borrow jingles from their dresses for her own, but not so many jingles that the lender’s dress will ‘lose its voice”. As she gathers her jingles, Jenna promises to dance for the women who cannot dance for themselves.  This story highlights the strong, female relationships in Jenna’s life, and the importance of family and community ties.

In ‘The Métis: a Visual History’, Sherry Farrell Raclette, combines her artistic skills withher past as a researcher and historian. This book displays four artistic panels that each represent a different era of Métis history. Originally produced as a theatre backdrop in 1996, these artistic panels were recognized for their potential as a teaching resource for history and art. Providing a culturally affirming learning experience, ‘The Métis: a Visual History’ seeks to encourage aboriginal youth to remain engaged in narrative and learning process of their own history

Moe & Malaya Visit the Nurse was written by Odile Nelson, translated by Louise and illustrated by Peggy Collins. This dual language book in English and Inuktitut follows best friends and cousin Moe and Malaya as they learn about the fascinating and fun discoveries that can be had at the nurse’s office. What is the job of a nurse? Can anyone become a nurse? In addition, what are all their crazy tools for and how do they use them? This book highlights for young children how cool and important the job of a nurse is, and how they too can become a nurse when they grow up!

Hiawatha and the Peacemaker is written by Robbie Robertson with artwork by David Shannon. A Mohawk, Hiawatha, has had is wife and daughter murdered by Tadodaho, the Onondaga Chief. As he plots revenge for their murders he encounters the Great Peacemaker, who dreams of bringing the nations together to live a new life unmarked by war, hate and fear. The Great Peacemaker enlists the help of  Hiawatha in bringing the nations together as one with unity, love and peace. This book includes a CD with an accompanying original song written and Produced by Robbie Robertson. It includes historical notes.

Rock and Roll Highway: The Robbie Robertson Story is a picture book about Mohawk/Jewish musician Robbie Robertson. Told by his son Sebastian Robertson, and illustrated by Adam Gustavson, the story traces important moments in Robbie’s life from getting his first guitar to forming the band, The Band. This biography follows Robbie’s relationship with music through his introduction by Mohawk Relatives at Six Nations reserve to his break into the music industry with Ronnie Hawkins. Key anecdotes are shared as dialogue between father and son creating an immersive book for students with an interest in music and First Nations history.

Urban Tribes: Native Americans in the City asks the question “So, just how connected are you to your Indigenous roots if you live downtown?”. Editors Mary Beth Leatherdale and Lisa Charleyboy combine contributions by Indigenous Youth and explore the question of how they follow traditions, connect to the land, and other indigenous peoples while living in an Urban environment. This book combines Q&As, descriptive articles, personal essays, profiles, poems, and spoken-word lyrics to shred stereotypes, promote understanding and positive stories of indigenous individuals. Messages of pride ring throughout the collection, to challenge the negative stereotype of indigenous people and highlight their achievements and way of living.

#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American women is a combined collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art displaying the voices and experiences of powerful Indigenous women across North America. Edited by Mary Beth Leatherdale and Lisa Charleyboy, these stories provide insight into the lives of women who for a long time have been invisible to the mainstream narrative. #NotYourPrincess is angry, contemplative and powerful. These stories are by strong, passionate women rising to be heard and demanding change.

About Annie McCarron

Graduate Student Library Assistant | Master of Information (LIS) and Master of Museum Studies, 2021 | Faculty of Information, University of Toronto
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