Monday, November 21, 2016

Native American Writers, Artists, Actors, and Musicians

It's still Native American Heritage Month, so I thought I'd recommend some art of various types by Natives. First, literature. After all, this IS a writing blog.

Colours of Us put out a list of 32 Native American Children's Books.

The Open Education Database presented 20 Native American Authors You Need to Read.

Goodreads has a list of Popular Native American Author's Books.

I personally recommend Sherman Alexie and Stephen Graham Jones.

You know what? How about some films? It doesn't have to be all about books.

Indian Country Today put out a list of 11 Essential Native American Films You Can Watch Online Right Now.

I can definitely recommend Rhymes for Young Ghouls, which is available on Netflix. It's a fascinating mix of gritty reality and magical realism. Smoke Signals is not on that list, but it's a great film, and one more folks are maybe aware of. Unfortunately, it's not on Netflix. It was the first movie I saw Adam Beach in, though I don't know if it was his first film overall. He's come a long way, which is wonderful to see, though I wasn't excited about his role in Suicide Squad.

Curious about Native American actors and actresses? Native Celebrities has a list. Some of these folks are recognizable (Adam Beach, Wes Studi, Graham Greene, Jason Momoa, and others.)

Here's a list of Native American artists.

And Wikipedia offers a list of Native American musicians. If you like rap, check out Frank Waln, who infuses a rap song with a beautiful flute solo and traditional Native sounds. For New Age/instrumental, Brule is a great choice. They perform around Christmas each year here.

Finally, I'd like to leave you with a short film (less than four minutes). It's a poem performed by twelve Native women about the effects of colonization. Pamela J. Peters wrote and directed "My Once Life."

I hope you've discovered a new writer, artist, actor, or musician you didn't know about before.

What is your favorite Native film? Writer? Actor/Actress? Musician? Have you ever seen Brule perform? Have you seen the film Smoke Signals? Any recommendations I missed?

May you find your Muse.


  1. "Hey Victor!!" Loved Adam Beach in Smoke Signals. It's the beginning of a promising career, even though he hasn't had the awesome career I want him to have. I also recommend "Pocahontas In Space" (aka Avatar) featuring Wes Studi. But Studi in The Last of the Mohicans is one of the greatest unsung "villains" in cinematic history. Graham Greene was awesome in Die Hard 3 & Dances With Wolves (I have to mention Die Hard 3 whenever I can even though it has nothing to do with Native American culture; just a great actor playing a smart-ass NY cop. Great post, Shannon!!

  2. Now I'm adding some new movies to my Netflix TBW list! Wonderful post. :)

  3. I'd love to check out that children's reading list. Sounds great!

  4. I love Tony Hillerman books and three episodes. It should have become a series. Adam Beach and Wes Studi. Longmire also takes place on the res, with excellent actors.

  5. You know. my son was just asking me to read another book with him, and I decided it was time to bring out Naya Nuki. The author toured my elementary school when I was young, and my mom bought two of his books. I inherited both. Lucky me. =)

  6. One of the great cultural observers is also Native American, William Least Heat-Moon, a travel writer most famous for Blue Highways.

  7. I'm interested in SkySisters and the other children's stories. One I own and loved when I was younger was Walk Two Moons.

  8. I heard Sherman Alexie speak at an SCBWI conference a few years ago, and what a story this man had to tell. The way the people on the Res are treated made me heartsick. Of course, I immediately bought his Absolute True Diary and gobbled it up.

  9. Hi Shannon - what a wonderful post ... loved the "Once My Life" film ... and now I'm listening to Frank Wain with AbOriginal ... amazing ... thanks for highlighting for us .. cheers Hilary

  10. Thanks for the recommendations. I'm particularly interested in checking out Stephen Graham Jones' books. I love that cover!

  11. What a cool post! I love this. I have hardly digested any Native American art, and I need to remedy that. I am a big sucker for R. Carlos Nakai, though. Great music for writing and for meditation.