Celebrate Indigenous Day!

Wisconsin Water Library > Water Library Blog > Celebrate Indigenous Day!

Today’s blog comes from the library’s fall library assistant, Julia Buskirk.

The second Monday in October marks Indigenous People’s Day, a time to reflect on the history and legacy of colonization in North America, and celebrate and support the Indigenous People across the Great Lakes and this continent.

Indigenous People’s Day has it’s roots in the protests and counter-celebrations of 1992, the year that marked 500 years since Christopher Columbus made contact with the North American Continent and initiated subsequent European colonization. Indigenous-led protests were held on Columbus Day to bring attention to the violence inflicted upon Indigenous People across North America by Christopher Columbus and other European colonizers, as well as the policies and actions of colonizing nations that attempted to eradicate or assimilate Native Nations. Counter-celebrations also served as an opportunity for Indigenous People to celebrate their communities and culture.

These protests and counter-celebrations have grown in the past few decades as different communities, cities and states adopted their own ways of recognizing Indigenous People’s Day. Last year, President Joe Biden made it an official federal holiday.

We’ve put together a selection of books for Educators and Guardians to share with Children to converse, celebrate, and learn about Indigenous People around the Great Lakes and across the continent. Today marks an opportunity to rethink the sanitized story of Columbus, and share stories with our children of and by Indigenous People.

Informational Books

Indigenous People’ Day / by Katrina M. Phillips. North Mankato, Minnesota: Pebble Explore, 2022. Ages 5-8.
This book explores the history and origins of Indigenous People’s Day, and was our September feature of the 2022 Maadagindan book discussion. Explore Discussion Questions and Learning Activities for this book here.

The Water Walker / by Joanne Robertson. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Second Story Press, 2017. Ages 6 – 10. Explore Discussion Questions and Learning Activities for this book here.
Shares the real-life story of Josephine Mandamin, who walked the Great Lakes alongside others to raise awareness and support to protect Nibi (water). Through her walks, she invites us all to take up our responsibility to protect our water and our planet for all generations.

Native People of Wisconsin / by Patty Loew. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2015. Ages 8 – 11.
A resource for young readers to learn about the the unique cultural traditions, tribal histories, and lives of the twelve Native Nations in Wisconsin.

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People / by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese. Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 2019. Ages 12 – 17, Young Adult.
A young-reader’s addition of Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s work. An accessible re-education of the history of the US that challenges the myth of the United States as a “Discovered New World,” sharing the history and ongoing Indigenous struggles against colonization and imperialism.

Stories and Narratives

Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh (This Is How I Know) / by Brittany Luby. Toronto; Berkeley: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2021. Ages 3 – 7.
A granddaughter and her grandmother explore the world together as they associate different seasons with star signs and the arrivals and activities of other beings. Text is in English and Anishinaabemowin.

Morning on the Lake / by Jan Bourdeau Waboose. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press Ltd, 1998. Ages 5-9.
A young boy and his Mishomis (Grandfather) set out in a canoe early one spring morning. Together, they embark on a day of discovery and reflection as the boy’s Mishomis patiently guides him to respect the ways of nature and to understand his own place in the world. Explore Discussion Questions and Learning Activities for this book here.

Remembering Green: An Ojibwe Girl’s Tale / by Lisa Gammon Olson and Lauren Rutledge. Lemont, PA: Eifrig Publishing, 2020. Ages 5 – 10.
A young girl’s Nimishoomis (Great-Grandfather) shows her how she can maintain her Ojibwe ways when forced to attend the Lac du Flambeau boarding school. The Lac du Flambeau Boarding School was a US government boarding school in Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin, that was run from 1895-1932 with the intention of assimilating Anishinaabe children into European-settler culture. Learn more about how the tribe has begun to reclaim the space.

The Birchbark House / by Louise Erdrich. New York, New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1999. Ages 8-12+
The first of a five-part series that follows a young Ojibwe girl named Omakayas throughout an eventful year on Mooningwanekaaning, now known as Madeline Island. Explore Discussion Questions and Learning Activities for this book here.

Activity Books

The Good Path: Ojibwe Learning and Activity Book for Kids / Afton, Minn.: Afton Historical Society Press, 2002. Ages 8 – 13.

Ganawenimaa nimamainan aki (Respect our Mother Earth: a kid’s environmental activity booklet) / by Sue Erickson and Dennis Soulier. Odanah, WI: Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission, 2005

Gimaamaa-akiiminaan gimiigwechiwendaamin (Thankful for our Mother Earth: Spearing through the ice, activity booklet) / by Dylan Jennings and Wesley Ballinger. Odanah, WI: Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission, 2016.

Gimaamaa-akiiminaan gimiigwechiwendaamin (Thankful for our Mother Earth: A kid’s manoomin activity booklet) / by Dylan Jennings and Wesley Ballinger. Odanah, WI: Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission, 2017.

If you have any reading suggestions or ideas, please let us know! askwater@aqua.wisc.edu