Books on History/Culture of the Dine and Other American Indian Tribes
December 17, 2021 9:42 AM   Subscribe

Hi all, I'm looking for book recommendations for my partner, who has taken a recent interest in American Indian history/culture, particularly the Dine (Navajo) and other peoples of the southwestern US. Please give me your favorite suggestions, thank you!

A bit of background: my partner is an immigrant to the US, from a country with their own Indigenous peoples, and recently has become curious about the history/culture of such societies in the US. We just returned from a trip to the US southwest, which has really sparked their interest in the matter. I saw that there was a previous ask about this topic, but it's from 2008, so would really appreciate any updates.

In addition to books, we'd also be interested in any online courses you may know of on the topic. If possible we'd prefer works/classes by American Indian scholars, but it'd just be a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have. Open to any and all suggestions, and thanks again!
posted by obliterati to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Hi. I'm a New Mexican who practiced law out on the Dine nation when I was a young lawyer. The best book I've ever come across is "Between sacred mountains: Stories and lessons from the land" by Sam; Rock Point School Bingham. This book is now out of print, but worth looking for and buying used. It was put together by the families of the students at the Rock Point School out on the reservation. It is a book that a child or an adult would be able to enjoy. I recommend it highly.
posted by furtheryet at 10:22 AM on December 17, 2021 [9 favorites]

You can study Navajo on Duolingo

I liked Navajos Wear Nikes, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's A Season on the Reservation, and House of Rain.
posted by olopua at 12:50 PM on December 17, 2021

My aunt (a white lady) lived on the Navajo reservation as a kindergarten teacher for about fifty years - she introduced us to a gentle, loving comedian/songwriter named Vincent Craig who spoke with sweet humor about his life (which included the experience of residential school**). In looking him up, I came across some other contemporary Navajo comedians, including James Junes, Brian Bahe, and Marc Yaffe.

**Here's a Smithsonian module about the boarding schools program, which looks like part of a larger course on the Navajo Code Talkers. I hope the US someday truly reckons with this among the many crimes against humanity it has committed.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 1:39 PM on December 17, 2021

Best answer: The Lamar Series has many excellent works. I’d recommend those by Pekka Hamalainen, especially Lakota America.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:52 PM on December 17, 2021

Not Dine/Navajo specific, but Philip Deloria (member of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe) has two award-winning books, "Playing Indian" and "Indians in Unexpected Places." Both touch not only on Native American history itself, but the history of the relationship between Native Americans and American culture. They are brilliant, and unlike some academic books, they're also well-written and approachable for non-specialists.
posted by coffeecat at 3:22 PM on December 17, 2021

Robin Kimmerer is a citizen of the Potawatomi Nation and her book is about nature and science but it's told through her stories and personal experiences that makes it a very enjoyable read.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

From the wiki : "The book is about alternative forms of Indigenous knowledge outside of traditional scientific methodologies. The book reframes the relationship between land and humans by exploring themes of reciprocity. Braiding Sweetgrass focuses on plants and botany as seen through Native American traditions and Western scientific traditions. "
posted by ljesse at 5:07 PM on December 17, 2021

Best answer: Surprising to me that we get this far into a thread on metafilter without any citation of actual Diné scholars, of which there are increasingly many. For example, Prof. Lloyd L. Lee (UNM) has written and edited multiple books that are all responsive to the question asked here. Or historian Jennifer Nez Denetdale, also at UNM, the first Diné person to earn a PhD in history, who brings a sharply feminist perspective to Navajo history.

Diné are increasingly well represented in academia, and in major media settings too. Please start your exploration by reading Diné authors first.
posted by spitbull at 4:29 AM on December 18, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone - great suggestions and a lot to dig into!
posted by obliterati at 6:01 PM on December 22, 2021

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