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Native Americans: Non-Fiction

Updated: November 2, 2020

The Los Angeles Public Library has large collections of non-fiction books about Native Americans (art, music, the sciences, history, folklore, and other subjects). This is a list of new and older non-fiction books.

1491 : new revelations of the Americas before Columbus
Mann, Charles C.
Call Number: 970.1 M281

What was America like before Columbus?  In this book Mann explores that question surveying the current state of archeology to paint a picture different from the one you read in your school history book.  A slow but rewarding read.

An American genocide : the United States and the California Indian catastrophe, 1846-1873
Madley, Benjamin,
Call Number: 970.4 C153Mad

From 1843 to 1873, the Native American population in California was leveled from approximately 150,000 to 30,000. This was not due to disease or starvation, but to a systematic slaughter of Native peoples who were in the way of land expansion by new settlers and the Gold Rush. Scholar and historian Benjamin Madley details the fact that prior to 1846, numerous explorers and settlers spoke about the friendliness of Native American tribes. After that time period, there was a concerted, documented effort by a broad spectrum of government agencies to portray the Native Americans as confrontational and dangerous.

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee : an Indian history of the American West
Brown, Dee, 1908-2002.
Call Number: 973.8 B877-1 2001

A carefully researched and documented account of the western expansion and systematic ravaging of Native Americans (Dakota, Nez Perce, Ute, Cheyenne, Ponca, Navajo, Apache, and other tribal nations) and their lands by the white man during the last half of the 19th century. This book presents the history of westward expansion from the perspective of Native Americans, who were its victums. Translated into numerous lanugages, the book has never been out of print since it was first published over forty years ago.

Coming full circle : the Seneca Nation of Indians, 1848-1934
Hauptman, Laurence M,
Call Number: 970.3 S475Ha

Based on extensive research, this book documents how the Seneca Nation was strong and flexible during times when their defeat might have been imminent.

Crazy Horse, the strange man of the Oglalas : a biography
Sandoz, Mari, 1896-1966.
Call Number: 970.2 C911Sa 1992

Military leader of the Oglala Sioux, Crazy Horse was a legendary leader who is best known for defeating General Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn. Mari Sandoz's biography is based on interviews with many of his people and captures the personality of this iconic leader.

The earth is weeping : the Indian wars for the American West, 1866-1891
Cozzens, Peter, 1957-
Call Number: 973.82 C882

When the United States Civil War ended, the expansion of the union continued westward into Native American lands. Based upon extensive research, this book presents perspectives from various Native Americans on how best to make peace, or to wage war in order to defend their lands. It also portrays the ideas and attitudes of United States' political, social and military leaders toward the Native Americans.


Empire of the summer moon : Quanah Parker and the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history
Gwynne, S. C. (Samuel C.), 1953-
Call Number: 970.2 P242Gw

Comanche chief Quanah was the son of Cynthia Ann Parker, who was kidnapped as a nine-year-old girl by the Comanches, and became known as the "White Squaw." This book provides new information on the tribe that waged war for forty years, and prevented simple colonization of Texas and other parts of the west. 

The heartbeat of Wounded Knee : native America from 1890 to the present
Treuer, David,
Call Number: 970.1 T811-3

By way of personal history and anthropological research, David Treuer (Ojibwe) provides an alternative narrative to Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. He documents how 125 years of discrimination, repression and broken promises did not defeat and diminish Native Americans in their quest for justice, but strengthened their pursuit for what is rightfully theirs.

"I do not apologize for the length of this letter" : the Mari Sandoz letters on Native American rights, 1940-1965
Sandoz, Mari, 1896-1966.
Call Number: 970.1 S218

Writer Mari Sandoz wrote extensively about the history and plight of Native Americans.  Although she was not connected by birth to any indigenous peoples, Sandoz vigorously took up their cause. Editor Kimberli A. Lee has organized a collection of letters which substantiates Sandoz " . . . as one of the most significant non-Native chroniclers and advocates for Plains Indian cultures. There is much here for historians and other scholars of American Indian, Great Plains, rhetorical, and women’s studies."

In the spirit of Crazy Horse
Matthiessen, Peter.
Call Number: 970.5 M443 1991

A doumentation of the 1975 gun battle between FBI agents and the American Indian Movement.  This confrontation took place near Wounded Knee, South Dakota, with one Native American and two FBI agents dead. There were several trials and one extended legal action that prevented this book from being published for eight years.

Indian country
Matthiessen, Peter.
Call Number: 970.5 M443-1

Matthiessen examines the takeover of land by white settlers which impacted the Miccosukee, Hopi, Cherokee, Mohawk, Urok, Karuk, Lakota, Chumsah, Paiute, Shoshone, Ute, and Navajo

An indigenous peoples' history of the United States
Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne, 1938-
Call Number: 970.107 D899

Told from the perspective of an indigenous activist, scholar and writer, this history of the United States docouments the purposely legislated policies and actions taken to eliminate indigenous peoples, from the exploration and founding of the country to the present.


The other slavery : the uncovered story of Indian enslavement in America
Resendez, Andres,
Call Number: 970.1 R433

Andrés Reséndez sheds new light on the enslavement of Native American peoples, a common practice, which did not have any political or social leaders who spoke out against it.

Rez life : an Indian's journey through reservation life
Treuer, David.
Call Number: 970.5 T811

Novelist David Treuer presents a view of what modern life is like for Minnesota's Ojibwe tribe. Treuer, who is an Ojibwe, presents a candid and objective view of life on today's reservation, from casinos to the conflict of Native American culture with modern America.

Toypurina, the Joan of Arc of California
Salas Teutimes, Ernest P.,
Call Number: 970.2 T756Sa

Toypurina was a shaman, or medicine woman, in the Gabrieleño tribe. She was the first Native American woman to rise up against the European colonizers and lead a rebellion.

Travels with Frances Densmore : her life, work, and legacy in Native American studies
Call Number: 781.77 D413Tr

Frances Densmore was a self-trained anthropologist who collected artifacts and recorded over 2500 songs from thirty-five Native American tribes.  Some of her methods are considered controversial, but her collections at the Smithsonian and the Minnesota Historical Society still provide invaluable information. This is the first researched biography of her life. LAPL owns many of her books on Native American music.