The history of the native peoples in North America is enormously varied, but the common themes — including broken treaties and forced removals — offer little for the United States to boast about. November is National Native American Heritage Month, so it’s fitting to look at several books that explore a range of times and experiences for Native Americans. One presents two sides of an infamous 19th-century battle. Another examines a 20th-century crime spree that took too long to stop. And a third highlights the perseverance and traditions that have made it possible for Native American nations to maintain a strong presence within the United States.

"Crazy Horse and Custer: Born Enemies"

By S.D. Nelson. Ages 10 to 14.

Author and illustrator S.D. Nelson shows how two men, the Lakota warrior Crazy Horse and the U.S. Army cavalry officer George Armstrong Custer, were raised for conflict and seemed destined to meet at the Battle of the Little Bighorn (1876) — or, as the Lakota call it, the “Battle of the Greasy Grass.”

Filled with historical photographs and Nelson’s stirring illustrations, this book explains why and how the American Great Plains were fought over in the 19th century. Nelson is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe as well as a great-grandson of a White soldier who fought with Custer in 1874. Nelson describes the lives of Custer and Crazy Horse — as well as the collision-course that set the youngest Union general in the Civil War against a fearless protector of his people and their territory.

"Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI"

By David Grann. Ages 10 and older.

Adapting his popular adult book, David Grann explores how the Osage people of northeastern Oklahoma were targeted after becoming suddenly wealthy in the early 20th century.

After being forced to leave their vast ancestral homelands, their new territory, rocky and much smaller, was found to contain oil deposits. Each tribe member began receiving substantial payments from oil companies. Grann opens his story in May 1921 and focuses first on 34-year-old Mollie Burkhart, one of four daughters in an Osage family, whose sister Anna has disappeared. Anna will soon be found murdered, but it’s not until more than 20 tribe members have been killed that a federal investigation focuses on the case.

The book explains how this “Reign of Terror,” which White community members carried out to enrich themselves, was finally exposed. Grann also talks to current-day Osage people, who are burdened by this tragedy but make clear that it was “not the end of our history.”

"We Are Still Here!: Native American Truths Everyone Should Know"

By Traci Sorell. Illustrated by Frane Lessac. Ages 7 to 10.

This vibrant illustrated book, from the creators of “We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga,” celebrates the resilience of native peoples during the past 150 years.

The subjects that 12 Native American students talk about can be upsetting — such as the suppression of traditional religions and the government-run boarding schools that taught native children far from their families and culture — but each presentation, shown on a double-page spread, ends with the proud refrain: “We Are Still Here!”

Positive developments are featured, too, including the laws that Congress passed during the 1930s that set out to secure tribal lands and support Native American cultures. With the final presentations, about Native American languages, self-governance, and protecting the land and water, the book makes clear that the strength and insights gained from looking at the past will be used to make a better future.

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