List compiled by the Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton
Annotations by Sue Tait, Director of Diocesan Resource Center
Doctrine of Discovery
Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery, by Steven T. Newcomb. Fulcrum Pub., 2008. (346.7 New)
- Mentioned as one of the books influential in the General Convention decision to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery in 2009, Newcome demonstrates how the religious concepts of Christendom have been used to justify the taking of Indian land and denial of independence. Even if sometimes unconscious, Newcome argues it violates the doctrine of separation of church and state and still continues in influence today.
Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery, by Mark Charles and Soong-Chang Rah. Intervarsity Press, 2019. (261.7 Cha)
- The fifteenth century official church edict allowed European Christians the right to claim as unoccupied the territories they “discovered” and was subsequently institutionalized as an implicit national framework that justifies American triumphalism, white supremacy, and ongoing injustice. The authors claim that healing can begin when such beliefs are unsettled.
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Beacon Press, 2015. (970.004 Dun)
- Largely omitted from history, the centuries-long genocide of the settler-colonial regimen is here highlighted as a bottom’s up reframing of US history and sheds new light on the national narrative. A version for middle school and high school youth brings the story forward to include Standing Rock (can also found at 970.004 Dun).
Savage Anxieties: The Invention of Western Civilization, by Robert A. Williams, Jr. St, Martin’s Press, 2012. (305.8 Wil)
- What is the source of ideas such as “savage” to characterize the natives living in the new world? Williams looks at the origins of prejudice and racism that has been rife in Western civilization throughout history, and at those rhetorical strategies to justify such behavior through patterns of thinking both historically and currently and draws some unnerving conclusions about which ideas are ascendent.
Discovering Indigenous Lands: The Doctrine of Discovery in the English Colonies, by Robert Miller and others. Oxford University Press, 2010. (342.42 Mil)
- Presenting new information on the international legal principal we know as the Doctrine of Discovery, the focus is on the way it is used in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. In that doctrine, practitioners justified property claims with the religious and ethnocentric ideas and claims of European and Christian superiority and promoted the political and commercial rights of inhabitants. It still does.
We All Go Back to the Land: The Who, Why, and How of Land Acknowledgements, by Suzanne Keeptwo, 2021. (305.8 Kee)
- Land Acknowledgements are intended to be an act of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, but routine use has sometimes sapped the meaning from the practice. Keeptwo wishes to explore and acknowledge the deep reverence Indigenous people have for the land and for their ancestors. Her believe in the ethics of the Original People is based on the earth and its “interconnection to the well-being of the human species.” She writes to Canadians, but her words are applicable to all.
Seeing Red: Indigenous Land, American Expansion, and the Political Economy of Plunder in North America, by Michael John Witgen . Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press. 2021. (pre-order)
- Against all odds, the Anishinaabeg resisted removal from their land, in part because they became key players in the political economy of plunder that drove the white settlement, but also because they leveraged their political savvy to advance a “dual citizenship” that allowed mixed-race traders to claim a place in society, and challenges our assumptions about the inevitability of US expansion.
Property and Dispossession: Natives, Empires and Land in Early Modern North America, by Allan Greer. Cambridge University Press, 2017. (323.1 Gre)
- Examination of the processes which gave rise to forms of land tenure and the dispossession of natives in the 16-18th centuries in Canada, Mexico and New England, a process called “property formation”.
Bridging the Christian/Indigenous Relationship
Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys: A Native American Expression of the Jesus Way, by Richard Twiss. IVP Books, 2015. (971.004 Twi)
- “The gospel of Jesus has not always been good news for Native Americans” Twiss states plainly. But despite the far-reaching effects of colonialism, some Natives have forged culturally authentic ways to follow Jesus. In his final work, the author surveys the complicated history of Christian missions among Indigenous peoples and voices a “hopeful vision of contextual Native Christian faith” (from publisher’s comments).
Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision, by Randy Woodley. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2012. (230.089 Woo)
- Based in ideas of co-creation of theological systems that foster wholeness and peace, Woodley introduces the “Harmony Way,” a concept that parallels the biblical idea of shalom and suggests that this path can lead to reconciliation, wholeness, and peace between Indigenous people and Euro-Westerners and can call us back to experience God’s love and care in the created world around us.
Native American Testimony: A Chronicle of Indian-White Relations from Prophecy to the Present, 1492-2000, by Peter Nabokov (Editor), Vine Deloria (Foreword). Penguin, revised and updated edition. 1999. (970.004 Nat)
- Spanning 500 years, documents from a wide range of sources present a history of Native American and white relations as seen through Indian eyes and voices, from first contacts with European explorers to very recent history. Documents in this collection include traditional narratives, autobiographical accounts, government transcripts, interviews, and more.
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007.
Indigenous Nations’ Rights in the Balance: An Analysis of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, by Charmaine White Face. Living Justice Press, 2013. (323.11 Whi)
- In 1994, two UN groups began formal work on the document which had been in discussion for many years, and which was finally passed in changed form in 2007. White Face provides an analysis to all three working documents, their underlying assumptions leading to the differences, and the frightening idea that the rule of law can be used as a weapon to disregard the objections of Indigenous peoples and as a vehicle for ongoing theft. She was one of the representatives at the UN 2007 convention in Geneva.
Native Spirituality and the Environment
Think Indigenous: Native American Spirituality for a Modern World, by Doug Good Feather and Doug Red Hail Pineda. Hay House, Inc. 2021. (299.7 Goo)
- Lakota wisdom, handed down through the generations, can help us to remember that all beings are divinely connected through conscious living and mindful consumption, discovering the interconnected web and the spiritual intelligence found in our hearts.
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Penguin, 2014. (305.8 Kim)
- The ways of perceiving the world through the lens of science, and also through the Potawatomi wisdom of her people, explored and combined by this lecturer whose understanding of the world shares a dual focus. Humans are seen as a part of creation, and also part of an ecological consciousness that acknowledges our reciprocal relationship with the world.
Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God, by Kaitlin B. Curtice. Brazos Press, 2020. (277.308 Cur)
- As a citizen of the Potawatomi Nation and a Christian, Curtice shares her experience of faith through the dual lenses, looking honestly at the ways faith has been instrumental in the destruction of Indigenous nations and the legacy it left.
As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock, by Dina Gilio-Whitaker. Beacon Press, 2020 (970.004 Gil)
- Through the lens of what she calls “Indigenized environmental justice,” Gilio-Whitaker, researcher and activist, explores the history of treaty violations, protection of sacred sites and even food and water. Not only the history of resistance to government and corporations, but offers an approach to environmental justice activism and policy.
2 thoughts on “Indigenous Reading List”
Rachel and Sue,
Thanks very much for this. I’ve been starting to explore this on my own, but your recommendations are (probably literally!) a Godsend.
Voices from the wilderness. Thank you so much for “The Indigenous Reading List” and for helping expand our understanding of human values vs. man’s inhumanity to man.
Scott and Eleanor Dills