Boston Public Library Celebrates National Native American Heritage Month

BPL celebrates Native lives and stories with new booklist, special events, and highlighted Special Collections items

BOSTON – October 31, 2023 - To honor National Native American Heritage Month, the Boston Public Library (BPL) is releasing Native Lives, Native Stories, a booklist of recent titles focusing on the cultures, histories, experiences, and diversity of the Native American communities. Celebrated annually in November, Native American Heritage Month acknowledges the unique traditions and important contributions of Indigenous Peoples. The BPL will also observe Native American Heritage Month by hosting special events across branches and by highlighting notable items in the BPL collections.

The Native Lives, Native Stories booklist, featuring selected books written by Indigenous authors or about Indigenous history and culture, is compiled by staff librarians from the Chinatown, Connolly, and Roslindale branches along with staff from the Central Library in Copley Square. The 78 titles comprising Native Lives, Native Stories highlight selections for adults, teenagers, and children by authors such as Oscar Hokeah, Stephen Graham Jones, Sonora Reyes, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Bryan Trottier. Genres from this collection include biography, expressions, history and contemporary issues, and fiction.

Each book on the list contains a brief synopsis and is accompanied by an image of the book cover as well as classification information. In addition to print books, select titles are available as eBooks or audiobooks.

Along with the booklist, the BPL will also celebrate National Native American Heritage Month with author talks and lectures, performing arts events, film screenings, book group discussions, arts and crafts workshops, and more, including a spotlight on the Associates of the Boston Public Library’s 2023-2024 Writer-in-Residence Danielle Emerson, a Diné writer from Shiprock, New Mexico, on the Navajo Nation. The full list of programs can be found at Highlights include:

  • Origin Stories: The Pequot War and Indigenous Enslavement in New England | November 1, Central Library in Copley Square | Award-winning historian Margaret Newell reveals how New England slavery began with the Pequot War and the enslavement of Indigenous people. She will be joined by Joshua Carter, executive director of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, and Michael Thomas, member of the board of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and former chair of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council to share their perspectives on the Pequot War and the consequences of slavery.
  • Documentary Club: Pure Grit | November 7, Mattapan | Screening of Pure Grit, a 2021 documentary. Filmed over the course of three years in the breathtaking Wyoming landscape, Pure Grit focuses on Sharmaine Weed, a young Native American woman in her 20s who loves bareback horse racing, a sport favored by Indigenous people in the region of the Rocky Mountains.
  • Stolen Relations: Centuries of Native Enslavement in the Americas | November 15, Central Library in Copley Square |A panel of Native leaders and historians representing the Nipmuc, Narragansett, Wampanoag Tribes and Nations, and from Brown University will provide presentations about the enslavement of millions of Indigenous people in the Americas between 1492 and 1900.
  • Wampanoag Food-ways are Fun-ways | November 18, Roxbury | Indian Education Coordinator for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Kitty Hendricks-Miller (Nenaweetah) will lead a class in making traditional Wampanoag boiled bread and will discuss historic Wampanoag cooking methods and local ingredients.
  • Hyde Park Book Club: The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich | November 30, Hyde Park and Online | A discussion of The Night Watchman, a 2020 novel by Louise Erdrich, which follows a community’s efforts to halt the proposed displacement and elimination of several Native American tribes in the 1950s.

Additionally, BPL’s Special Collections department welcomes patrons to a hands-on experience in the Special Collections reading room. The Special Collections Sampler for Native American Heritage Month will allow patrons to explore notable objects from the BPL's collections that represent the history and experiences of the Indigenous communities.

The sampler includes a series of photographs by John Willis titled Mni Wiconi Water Honoring the Water Protectors Series, which documents protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline; a 1937 map by Iktomi (pseud.) called Lilawaste Lake Country refuge-to-be?, an enigmatic and imaginative map intended to provoke a conversation around what a refuge for the Lakota people might look like; a circa 1734 mezzotint called Tomo Chachi Mico or King of Yamacraw, and Tooanahowi his Nephew, Son to the Mico of the Etchitas by engraver John Faber the Younger, which depicts Native American leaders of Turtle Island, the name for America among Indigenous peoples; and a June 4, 1828 issue of ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᏅᎯ / The Cherokee Phoenix, the first newspaper published in a Native American language in the United States.

Patrons can delve deeper into the history of these objects at a Special Collections open house, to be held on November 28 from 2-4pm in the Special Collections reading room at the Central Library in Copley Square. Special Collections staff will be available to answer questions as visitors explore these items up close. For those unable to attend the open house, the items will be available throughout the month of November for use in the Special Collections reading room, Wednesday - Friday, 9:30am - 4:30pm, with no appointment necessary. Other distinguished pieces from the BPL collection depicting the history of Indigenous peoples and their achievements will be featured on BPL’s social media platforms during National Native American Heritage Month.

Physical copies of the Native Lives, Native Stories booklist will be available at all BPL locations starting November 1, 2023; it can also be accessed digitally. In addition, the booklist and information about National Native American Heritage Month programs will also appear on the BPL website at and on the BPL social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).

Patrons can view many years' worth of prior affinity booklists, such as those from Black History Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, LGBTQ+ Pride Month, and Hispanic Heritage Month in an online archive.



Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library is a pioneer of public library service in America. It was the first large, free municipal library in the United States; the first public library to lend books; the first to have a branch library; and the first to have a children’s room.

The Boston Public Library of today is a robust system that includes the Central Library in Copley Square, 25 neighborhood branches, the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center, the Kirstein Business Library and Innovation Center, and an archival center, offering public access to world-class special collections of rare books, manuscripts, photographs, and prints, along with rich digital content and online services.

The Boston Public Library serves nearly 4 million visitors per year and millions more online. All of its programs and exhibitions are free to all and open to the public. The Boston Public Library is a department of the City of Boston, under the leadership of Mayor Michelle Wu. To learn more, visit