History comes to life in Louise Erdrich’s The Birchbark House, a National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature in 1999. It earned a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, was a Jane Addams Children’s Honor Book, and received the WILLA award for YA Fiction.
Omakayas, sole survivor of a smallpox epidemic, is rescued as an infant by a courageous woman named Tallow and adopted into an Ojibwa family on the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker (known today as Lake Superior’s Madeline Island near Bayfield, WI). The story weaves through the events and seasons of Omakayas’s seventh year, leading readers on a vivid journey through Ojibwa life and tradition in 1847.
Deep Blue Readers meet February 22, 1:30 – 2:30pm at Mara Mi in downtown Stillwater.
A renowned author of novels, poetry, and children’s books featuring Native Americans, Erdrich was born in Little Falls, MN, grew up in North Dakota, and is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. She owns Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore in Minneapolis — and served as illustrator for their website in addition to creating the illustrations you’ll find in the book!
Award-winning follow up titles in Erdrich’s Birchbark Series include:
- The Game of Silence (2006)
- The Porcupine Year (2010)
- Chickadee (2012), which expands the series to new characters
Learn more about the Ojibwe people (sometimes also seen as Otchipwe or Ojibway), their heritage, culture and language, as well as where to find other books for youth about Native Americans:
- American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) recommends and reviews children’s books that portray American Indians in an authentic light, while also drawing attention to books that rely too heavily on stereotype.
- The Ojibwe People’s Dictionary at the University of Minnesota, including cultural photo galleries of Ojibwe hidework, lodges, sugaring, rice harvest, fishing, and winter survival
- First Speakers: Restoring the Ojibwe Language, a TPT documentary
- Ojibwe: We Look in All Directions, a six-part documentary for public television focusing on history and culture of the Anishinaabe-Ojibwe peoples of the Great Lakes
- About the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe via the Minnesota Historical Society
- Native Harvest: Ojibwe Wild Rice Gathering in Minnesota by Gustave Axelson, for Midwest Living Oct. 2012
- Virtual Exhibit: Why Treaties Matter, a nationally recognized, award-winning, traveling exhibit made in partnership with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. The traveling exhibit rotates across several Minnesota locations in 2015, with an appearance at Century College in White Bear Lake, Feb 25 – Mar 15.