Last semester, I took a required Education course called “Encounter with Cultures” taught by Professor Susan Cherup. In this course, there was a unit on Native Americans with readings focused on Native Americans and current Native American issues. All of this helped prepare me so well to read our upcoming Big Read 2021 book, An American Sunrise, by Joy Harjo.

If you are looking to learn more about Native Americans in preparation for your reading of our Big Read book, I encourage you to give these books and movies a try! 

Soldier, Lydia Whirlwind 1942- [WorldCat Identities]

One meaningful read was an excerpt from Shaping Survival: Essays by Four American Indian Tribal Women by Lydia Whirlwind Soldier. She is one of the six Native American voices joining us in November to share her story! 

Lydia Whirlwind Soldier went to an Indian Boarding School. The most famous boarding school is the Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. I live nearby and have family in this town, so it surprised me that I knew so little about the boarding school. 

The movie Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was based on the book of the same name by Dee Brown. It tells the story of Sitting Bull, a Sioux chief, Charles Eastman, a Native American who became a doctor, and the displaced Native Americans as settlers moved West. This movie was very emotional and sad. I’ve learned about these concepts or people, but it was different to watch the history on the screen. 

My favorite book from the class was Neither Wolf Nor Dog, a novel by Kent Nerburn. Kent traveled to the Lakota Indian Reservation to learn from an Indian elder named Dan. It was easy for me to relate to Nerburn since he was trying to learn and gain a better understanding from Dan. One of the things I appreciated most about this book is that the reader gets to learn from someone who makes mistakes while trying to navigate Lakota culture and relationships. 

“Encounters with Culture” was one of my favorite courses at Hope College and showed me how much more there is to learn about various cultures. I’m excited for our community to learn about similar topics from our Big Read speakers this fall.

If you want to get a head start on your learning, check out the Native American authors who will be participating in our program on our Instagram @bigreadlakeshore or read/watch one of the resources above! 

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