Native American fiction books represent emotional, award-winning literature that spans decades. The history of Native Americans in this country is as rich with heritage as tragedy. Therefore, this cross-section of literature about their triumph and struggle should be part of any history buff’s reading list.
Read on to learn about 3 classics of Native American fiction to add to your reading list. You might be interested in the culture or also want a new perspective on America’s history. Either way, past and present collide in these sparkling examples of Native American fiction.
Pushing the Bear by Diane Glancy
The Trail of Tears represents the height of tragedy in the relationship between Native Americans and the growing states. Pushing the Bear thus takes a Cherokee myth to heart, drawing a parallel between the bear, a symbol of greed, and the U.S. influence over the Cherokee nation.
The story takes place from the perspective of Maritole. She stands in for all women, and all Cherokee, forced from their homes to endure unimaginable pain at the hands of the U.S. government. Pushing the Bear represents an incredible tale of empathy that will never stop being a timely reminder of the cost of colonization.
Sundown by John Joseph Mathews
Sundown concerns the Osage tribe and the difficulty many Native Americans had with integrating with white American society. The main character is a mixed-race Osage native who struggles with the oil industry’s impact on his tribe’s culture, though not in the way you might expect.
Oil on Osage land corrupts their customs from the inside, introducing materialism to a culture unused to it. Thus, this historical fiction novel brings light to boundaries between cultures that have perhaps never been crossed and perhaps never can be. For a worldlier perspective on Native American history, look no further than this personal tale of ambition, caution, and loss from Joseph Mathews.
House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
Momaday’s House Made of Dawn won the Pulitzer Prize for its tale of struggle, told from the perspective of a WWII veteran reacquainting himself with his homeland. Abel, the main character, isn’t a paragon of virtue of Native American simplicity. After the war, he drinks, brawls, and even commits murder.
House Made of Dawn ultimately turns around from this dark cautionary tale to a celebration of Native American cultural heritage. The book earns its accolades with sad underpinnings but cathartic goals. For greater understanding and also greater empathy, read Momaday’s prize-winning novel and see why it’s stood the test of time since it was written in 1969.
In conclusion, Native American fiction books tell stories of great sadness and great understanding. They chronicle the history of a troubled people. They also reflect the history of a country forced to share a continent between two civilizations.
Looking for a new perspective on American history, an unfamiliar culture, or tales of family struggle and empathy? Look no further than these award-winning Native American fiction classics.
For more great reads, check out our other selections on Penlighten.com.