Books similar to the novels by Velma Wallis?
March 26, 2011 5:34 PM   Subscribe

Recommend me novels with Native American themes similar to Velma Wallis' Two Old Women and Bird Girl and the Man Who Followed the Sun.

I absolutely adored those two books by Velma Wallis and I want to read more similar books. Here are some criteria:

-Book centered on legend/story/tales of indigenous people of North America
-No books about interactions with European settlers, I'm mostly interested in the stories that don't have any European or white characters and that aren't set in modern times.
-Written by Native American author
-If the story has good lessons in it, that is a plus.
-Available on Amazon preferably

Thank you so much!
posted by skjønn to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I also really liked The Lakota Way by Jack Marshall if that helps.
posted by skjønn at 5:47 PM on March 26, 2011

well, other than native american author, two names come to mind:

Tony Hillerman
Barbara Kingsolver
posted by k5.user at 5:47 PM on March 26, 2011

Atanarjuat is all of this ... except it's a film. It's too good not to mention though.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 6:04 PM on March 26, 2011

Not a native American author, but A Yellow Raft in Blue Water tells the same story three times, with three generations of native American women living in the Pacific Northwest narrating.
posted by Gilbert at 8:34 PM on March 26, 2011

It's post-apocalyptic rather than historical, but LeGuin's Always Coming Home deals with a Native-American like tribal system in the Pacific Northwest.
posted by freshwater at 10:43 PM on March 26, 2011

Huh, can't think of any "pre-contact" novels that would fit your criteria, but I found The Ohlone Way quite moving for a non-fiction book. Written by a white guy. Might interest you anyhow.
posted by serazin at 12:09 AM on March 27, 2011

Barbara Kingsolver wouldn't work. Her books are set in the 20th century at the earliest and they all have white characters. Also, other than Pigs in Heaven, they aren't based on Native American legend at all. She's a great writer, but doesn't fit your criteria.
posted by bardophile at 3:32 AM on March 27, 2011

I very much enjoyed "The Woman Who Fell From The Sky" by Joy Harjo, though it is post-contact. There's also Spider Woman's Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women, which is basically a survey of Native American literature by women, with analysis by Paula Gunn Allen, professor of Native American studies at the University of California.

I grew up with Native American friends and am doing my Masters thesis (in comparative literature) on some Northwest Native American myths, so I could say a lot about why you probably won't find much, if any, pre-contact fiction... but in short, I think it would be best to remain open to the deep, indelible, often traumatic marks left by centuries of contact and discover more about how that is experienced. It's humbling and eye-opening – you said you were looking for good lessons too.
posted by fraula at 4:20 AM on March 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Zadeyi Red by Caleb Fox is a fantasy story that retells an old Cherokee myth. I thought it was nuanced and interesting. In looking this up for you, I see he has a new book out, Shadows in the Cave. Which I'm now going to pick up myself.

Sorry if the link doesn't work. It's my first attempt.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 8:22 AM on March 27, 2011

The resources and links here may be helpful.
posted by gudrun at 1:53 PM on March 27, 2011

Seconding Erdrich. Her novels follow many generations of (fictional) Ojibwe people. She might not be exactly what you're looking for, but her characters are so vibrant and just so... Indian.

The Story-Telling Stone edited by Susan Feldmann is good.

Pretty Shield by Frank Linderman tells the true story of Pretty Shield, a Crow medicine woman, and gives an account of the women's side of Indian life before the whites came.

Just pulled these off the shelf next to me. If you run out of material, memail me. We have more out in the studio, but it's raining and I hate wet feet.
posted by kamikazegopher at 2:13 PM on March 27, 2011

Try the collection The Inland Whale by Theodora Kroeber, particularly the title story. Kroeber was translating stories told by Native Californian people, sometimes directly to her. (She also wrote Ishi's life story, is Ursula Le Guin's mother, and was the wife of Alfred Kroeber, the anthropologist who did so much to preserve the stories, languages, and cultures of the California Indians.)
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 11:13 PM on April 2, 2011

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