Help Us Elevate Native Voices

First Nations Development

All of our lives have changed dramatically due to the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19). One thing that hasn’t changed is First Nations Development Institute’s (First Nations) ongoing commitment to advocating for systemic change, educating grassroots practitioners and capitalizing Native American communities. We will be sharing more soon about our efforts to help support the Native-controlled nonprofits and tribal government programs we serve as they work diligently to meet the health and economic needs of their communities in both rural and urban areas.  

Today we want to share an empowering and uplifting narrative-change initiative that has been underway over the last six months called #NativeReads: Great Books from Indigenous Communities.For more than 200 years, Native literatures have been shaped and influenced by individuals from outside our tribal communities. First Nations firmly believes that it is time for citizens of sovereign tribal nations to define and articulate their own literary traditions.

Celebrating Indigenous writers from a specific tribe or region, we’re honored to partner with a group of Oceti Sakowin writers (Dakota, Lakota and Nakota) from the Oak Lake Writers’ Society. We have collaborated on a publication called Stories of the Oceti Sakowin, which includes 10 recommended books. The four-page storykeeping timeline created by the Oak Lake Writers’ Society takes the reader on a journey to better understand early and contemporary Dakota, Lakota and Nakota people and communities. 

For the next several weeks we will be sharing more about each of the 10 selected books, the selection process and more.

Please visit to view all the 2020 #NativeReads: Great Books from Indigenous Communities materials. 

Also included in the publication are suggestions on how you can take steps to illuminate voices from Native communities — a call to action. I hope you accept the challenge by taking part in one or more of our ways to make a difference.

This week we are pleased to present the first 2020 featured book: 

Our History is the Future: Standing Rock versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance by Nick Estes. 

This award-winning book recounts 10 months of Indigenous resistance at Standing Rock. In 2016, hundreds of tribal nations, led by the Oceti Sakowin, came together in solidarity to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline and hundreds of years of injustice against Indigenous people and communities. You can view the author interview here and the book discussion guide here.  

Nick Estes will also post a short story with discussion questions that parents, families, educators and others can download for free. Watch for that release in a future email.

Initiatives like this, which build awareness and broaden education, make a significant difference in breaking down stereotypes. They reshape collaborations and build bridges of understanding in the world today. And they are vital to our ability to ensure the economic, spiritual and cultural well-being of Native communities today and for generations to come.

Gunalcheésh (Thank you),

Michael E. Roberts (téix sháach tsín)
President & CEO

P.S. Please note that while most of the books are available in print, e-books and audiobooks, a few of the titles are harder to find.

P.P.S. We hope you enjoy our inaugural year of #NativeReads: Great Books from Indigenous Communities. Please forward this email to others and be sure to visit

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