November 9, 2017

Find it in NoveList: Books by indigenous authors

On October 5th, 1877, Chief Joseph formally surrendered to the United States Army, ending the Nez Perce War with one of the most iconic speeches in American history: 

I am tired of fighting. Our Chiefs are killed; Looking Glass is dead, Ta Hool Hool Shute is dead… I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my Chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.

Chief Joseph’s speech is located in a rich, challenging tradition of Native American literature and, more broadly, the continuing struggle of indigenous peoples in a postcolonial world. This tradition is continued in the compelling work of Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie, and Leslie Marmon Silko, among many others. For a librarian doing a book display or recommending books to a patron, the challenge can be in finding those other authors.  

NoveList metadata librarians do extra research to make authors with specific cultural identities easier for you to discover. To find more authors of indigenous heritage in NoveList, you can use the advanced search page to search by author characteristics. 

Once you have navigated to the advanced search, scroll down to the box labelled “Author’s Cultural Identity”. You will see dozens of cultural affiliations, including Aboriginal Australian, Maori, Native American, and Native Canadian. Or, you can use the field code AC right in the search bar. For example, typing AC Aboriginal Australian will result in a list of all the books we have in Novelist where we know the author has a cultural identity of Aboriginal Australian.

GIF of Author Cultural Identity limiter

And don’t forget about our dedicated subject headings, like Indians of North America, First Nations (Canada), Aboriginal Austral*, and Maori. You can use subject headings in field code searching, too. Typing SU Indians of North America will return all the books we have with that subject heading. If you’re looking for #ownvoices works, the field code search SU Indians of North American AND AC Native American will return books about Indians of North America with an author who identifies (as far as we know) as a Native American. You can also do this with advanced search. Type Indians of North America in the search box and choose subject from the dropdown menu. Select Native American from the list of author’s cultural identity and hit search.

As always, you can narrow down your choices by age range, appeal, genre, mix in a Lexile search, etc.

Finally, if you’re looking specifically for nonfiction, try typing these headings into the search bar:

  • GN History writing--Australia--Aboriginal Australia
  • GN History writing--Canada--First Nations
  • GN History writing--Latin America--Native Americans
  • GN History writing--New Zealand—Maori
  • GN History writing--United States--Native Americans

For more information about searching in Novelist, check out our search strategy Exploring Books By Culture or watch this tutorial on discovering books based on culture or place.

(You also may have noticed that I added the caveat of “where we know” for an author’s cultural identity. If you notice information about an author’s cultural identity that is incorrect or missing, please click the feedback button in the upper right corner of NoveList and let us know. Please include a citation for that information, such as author webpage, biography, or interview.)

Christine Wells is a Metadata Librarian II at NoveList. 

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