Visit national parks–connect with nature for Earth Day; Redlands events, April 22
As I’m writing this from the Library, I am so thankful to be able to look out the window at the green space of Smiley Park around us. Not all of us are so lucky as to be able to experience an expanse of living and breathing grasses, plants, and trees at our places of work, or even at our homes. Though the Park is not as huge as, say, a national park, it does its job and provides a healing respite for us, even those of us just looking out the window at it.
In the spirit of this respite, ahead of Earth Day on April 22nd, I’m featuring Smiley Library’s newest books on our national parks. Our 63 parks are treasures which a lot of us may not make the time to visit, but which really should be experienced—they hold such grand magnificence! The more we get to feel mountains of earth beneath our feet and the warm sun and whirling wind on our skin, the more we get to breathe in deeply the fresh aromas of nature and listen for the trickling, falling, gushing of water, and to get to spy—just the vast, open space! — and the variety of creatures who live within the ecosystem of a national park, the more we will fall in love with the natural world which supports us, and the more we’ll be inspired to care for it. It’s ultimately our home, after all. And it’s what Earth Day is all about.
I’m really looking forward to Guardians of the Valley: John Muir and the Friendship That Saved Yosemite, by bestselling author Dean King (Skeletons on the Zahara), now available at the Library. Naturalist John Muir, known as the founder of the Sierra Club, was an author and environmental philosopher, and an early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States. King’s account describes how Muir evolves from “self-styled hobo” to fervent advocate with the help of his longtime editor and friend, Robert Underwood Johnson, magazine editor and pragmatic 19th century influencer. In a visit to Yosemite in 1889, they were horrified to witness great destruction to the land from damming, logging, grazing, mining, and tourism. The ying-yang balance of their personalities became the catalyst that saved the landscape of Yosemite, made it a national park, and heralded in the U.S. environmental movement.
Fast-forward half a century to the setting of journalist Nate Schweber’s This America of Ours: Bernard and Avis DeVoto and the Forgotten Fight to Save the Wild. Engaging from the very first page, it reads as a novel in which the DeVotos are superheroes in the making. Yes, superheroes were still needed to defend our open public lands from greed and corruption. Prolific writer Bernard and his wife and editor, Avis, took on the fight and ultimately were censored and blacklisted in the 1950s, but came back with a grassroots coalition to help save our national parks.
Others resources for park visitors include:
Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, by Michael Grosberg;
Fodor’s Utah: [with Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef & Canyonlands National Parks], by Shelley Arenas;
Fodor’s the Complete Guide to the National Parks of the West, by Shelley Arenas;
Fodor’s the Complete Guide to the National Parks of the USA, by Karen Anderson;
National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States, by National Geographic Society (U.S.).
You may also want to look for Ken Burns’ spectacular documentary on the national parks on PBS, or on a streaming platform, or his book in our catalog, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea: An Illustrated History, by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns.
And don’t forget; Smiley Library patrons can now use their library cards to gain free parking while visiting over 200 California state parks. California State Library Parks Passes circulate for two weeks and are non-renewable.
As a reminder, the Library holds a lot more items on natural sites to explore, whether it’s national parks, state parks, wilderness areas, hiking trails, particular flora and fauna, etc. For example, with our recent wet weather and the super blooms it is bringing, you may want to know more about wildflowers and where to find them; hopefully some are growing within these parks. Look for Yosemite Wildflowers: A Field Guide to the Wildflowers of Yosemite National Park, by Barry Breckling.
You may want to carry with you, as a nod to April being National Poetry Month, American Wildflowers: A Literary Field Guide, with which to serenade your companion among the wildflowers. A delightful compilation of diverse representation and works edited by Susan Barba, the offerings of writers who wax poetic on these elusive creations of beauty, are organized among a field guide and feature charming watercolors by Leanne Shapton.
♥ Celebrate Earth Day in Redlands on the morning of Saturday, April 22, by participating in your choice of a variety (dozens!) of hands-on events around town sponsored by ANCA (Accelerate Neighborhood Climate Action) and many other Redlands environmental organizations. Refer to www.redlandsearthday.org/ for more information, and to register.
♥ Donate books in front of Smiley Library on Earth Day, and at Redlands Community Center, from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. “The 3 R’s: Recyle & Reuse *Books* to Reduce the Carbon Fooprint!”
♥ Learn why so many have been observing Earth Day since 1970; take a look at “A Brief History of Earth Day,” a short, enlightening PowerPoint presentation by ANCA member Andy Green, as well as our reading list post of books on environment-related topics.
Enjoy your time exploring our Great Outdoors!
Let’s recognize and honor the first peoples of our nation as we give thanks
“…Thanksgiving is also a reminder of the painful history created by the arrival of European colonizers. For many Native American people, colonization resulted in displacement from their homes, war, disease, and death. Thanksgiving is a day to remember this history and honor the first people of the nation.”
This sobering message comes to us from a child’s book, The First Thanksgiving: Separating Fact from Fiction, by Peter Mavrikis. New to Smiley Public Library’s Young Readers’ Room collection, it is a non-fiction account in the Fact vs. Fiction in U.S. History series. Though the Pilgrims and indigenous people of the Wampanoag Nation met peacefully at the ‘Thanksgiving’ of 1621, the circumstances surrounding their meeting and the subsequent depictions in American culture are often romanticized. This book is designed for children at sixth-grade level; however, it is full of well-sourced information that we adults may also need to learn, or re-learn.
Native Americans are not the only indigenous peoples who have been displaced by U.S. settler colonization. The American Indigenous community also includes (Hawaiian Kingdom) Kānaka Maoli and Alaskan Native people, in addition to the homelands of 574 federally recognized American Indian tribal nations, and hundreds more state-recognized tribal nations, and others.
Native author Adrienne Keene reminds us in her recent work, Notable Native People: 50 Indigenous Leaders, Dreamers, and Changemakers from Past and Present, that indigenous peoples are not just part of the historic past, that they are not extinct. They live among us and beside us — their indigenous cultures, thriving, their original languages, alive and well. Keene believes that there is power in sharing stories of Native Americans as a foray into recognizing their centuries-long burden of invisibility and erasure. Our commitment to ‘see’ them will help us admit that we need to interrupt our status quo and take action. Keene does so in an easy-to-read format in which she thoughtfully curates a selection of one-page biographies of 50 indigenous Americans whose accomplishments are sure to impress the reader and, hopefully, inspire us to support the needs of those on whose land we live.
If you enjoy these short bios, you are sure to want to linger over new autobiography Red Paint: The Ancestral Autobiography of a Coast Salish Punk, by newcomer Sasha taqʷšəblu LaPointe, of the Upper Skagit and Nooksack Indian Tribe in the Pacific Northwest. Author, poet, and artist, she guides us through a beautifully-written and enthralling personal memoir in which she attempts to find her indigenous identity, her voice, and the elusive concept of permanence. She writes,
“I realized I wasn’t sure what permanence looked like, because we weren’t meant to survive. My family, my tribe, my ancestors, we were something temporary to the settlers. Something that would eventually go away. Whether by disease or alcohol or poverty, our genocide was inevitable to them. I looked at the smoke pluming from the metal chimneys of the small reservation houses along the highway. But here we were, existing in our impermanent homes.”
LaPointe’s search for this innate, inherited need for a permanent home, urges her to explore the traditional spiritual practices of the women in her lineage, identifying their traumas and her own. She is able to ultimately recognize the through-line of resilience in her Coast Salish ancestors and herself. Her tribe’s healers wear red paint in religious dance ceremonies, and in her exploration of such traditions, combined with her affinity for punk music and poetry, LaPointe finds her own healing and purpose.
For more suggestions for reading and getting to know indigenous peoples, visit our post on Native American Heritage Month on Smiley Blog, https://blog.akspl.org/. You’ll find several new fiction books listed by Native authors, and new non-fiction, like the 2022 update to the classic on Indigenous languages of California, Flutes of Fire. New chapters highlight the exciting efforts of current language activists, and include contemporary writing in several of the languages.
Also listed in the post are older books concerning Native Americans, some set in Southern California, such as a treatise by local historians James Sandos and Larry Burgess on the historical inaccuracies of the novel, Willie Boy & the Last Western Manhunt. You also will be introduced to a new book in the Heritage Room on the Smiley brothers and other Quakers, who, over one hundred years ago, worked toward finding justice for Native Americans.
Observe the 2022 Native American Heritage Month with these new books, periodicals
Celebrate Native American Heritage Month in November with some of the Smiley Library titles listed here. As a reminder, there is no charge to place a book on hold. Just browse below and click on titles in which you are interested!
In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kans., formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day. It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe, to call upon the country to observe such a day. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens. The year before this proclamation was issued, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed.
The first American Indian Day in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of New York. Several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September. In Illinois, for example, legislators enacted such a day in 1919. In 2021 the United States designated the federal holiday of Columbus Day to also be observed as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994. (source: NativeAmericanHeritageMonth.gov)
Of Local Interest
- Ramona, by Helen Hunt Jackson. Published in 1884, it features a Scottish-Native American orphan girl, and takes place in Southern California. The Ramona Pageant, which still takes place in Hemet, California, is derived from this character.)
- The hunt for Willie Boy : Indian-hating and popular culture, by Redlands historians James A. Sandos and Larry E. Burgess. A scholarly and ethno-historical examination of an actual incident which took place in Southern California in 1909, and which was the focus of 1960 novel Willie Boy & the last western manhunt and its 1969 film adaptation, “Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here.” The authors provide compelling research to correct the facts, and to vindicate the Paiute-Chemehuevi Indian called ‘Willie Boy.’
- Shutter, by Ramona Emerson
- When two feathers fell from the sky, by Margaret Verble
- Fevered star, by Rebecca Roanhorse
- Calling for a blanket dance, by Oscar Hokeah
- The sacred bridge, by Anne Hillerman
- White horse, by Erika T. Wurth
- Indigenous continent: the epic contest for North American, by Pekka Hamalainen
- Path lit by lightning : the life of Jim Thorpe, by David Maraniss
- Born of lakes and plains : mixed-descent peoples and the making of the American West, by Anne Farrar Hyde
- A brave and cunning prince : the great Chief Opechancanough and the war for America, by James Horn
- We refuse to forget : a true story of Black Creeks, American identity, and power
- Notable native people : 50 indigenous leaders, dreamers, and changemakers from past and present, by Adrienne Keene
- Origin: a genetic history of the Americas, by Jennifer Raff
- American Indian Wars : the essential reference guide, by Justin D. Murphy
- Red paint : the ancestral autobiography of a Coast Salish punk, by LaPointe, Sasha taqʷšəblu
- Tread of angels, by Rebecca Roanhorse (fiction)
- The last campaign : Sherman, Geronimo, and the War for America, by H. W. Brands
- Flutes of fire : an introduction to native California languages revised and updated, by Leanne Hinton
Heritage Room items (available by appointment for use in the Heritage Room)
Did you know that the Library’s Special Collections department, the Heritage Room, holds a Carnegie Indian Collection? It began in 1910 with a gift from industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to honor his friend Albert K. Smiley. It includes rare and selected volumes primarily on the Native American tribes of California and the Southwest.
Recently added to the Heritage Room’s Non-Fiction Indian collection is a publication which features the Smiley brothers’ work as Quakers, and that of others, in attempts to achieve Native American justice:
- As they were led : Quakerly steps and missteps toward Native justice, 1795-1940, by Catlin, Martha Claire
Albert K. Smiley served as a commissioner on the Board of Indian Commissioners from 1879 to 1912, the year he died. He founded the Mohonk Indian Conference in 1894 and nominated the presiding officers each year after that until 1912.
Heritage Room periodicals, books
- News from native California, quarterly periodical
- American Indian culture and research journal, quarterly periodical / University of California, Los Angeles, American Indian Culture and Research Center.
- Heritage keepers, periodical / Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, Inc., Banning, Calif., Morongo Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians of the Morongo Reservation, California.
- Handbook of North American Indians / Sturtevant, William C.
- Strong hearts & healing hands : Southern California Indians and field nurses, 1920-1950 / Trafzer, Clifford E.
- San Bernardino County Museum Association quarterly / San Bernardino County Museum Association
- West of slavery : the Southern dream of a transcontinental empire / Waite, Kevin (Historian)
Young Readers’ Room (YRR)
- The first Thanksgiving : separating fact from fiction, by Mavrikis, Peter
Older Fiction and Non-Fiction
- We are the land : a history of native California / Akins, Damon B.
- The Apache diaspora : four centuries of displacement and survival / Conrad, Paul
- “The chiefs now in this city” : Indians and the urban frontier in early America / Calloway, Colin
- Living nations, living words : an anthology of first peoples poetry / Harjo, Joy
- Poet Warrior: A Memoir / Harjo, Joy
- Black snake : Standing Rock, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and environmental justice / Todrys, Katherine Wiltenburg
- Standoff : Standing Rock, the Bundy movement, and the American story sacred lands / Keeler, Jacqueline
- The taking of Jemima Boone : colonial settlers, tribal nations, and the kidnap that shaped America / Pearl, Matthew
- Cheyenne summer : the battle of Beecher Island : a history / Mort, T. A. (Terry A.)
- Ramona / Jackson, Helen Hunt
- The hunt for Willie Boy : Indian-hating and popular culture / Sandos, James A.
- Willie Boy & the last western manhunt / Trafzer, Clifford E.
- The Lumbee Indians : an American struggle / Lowery, Malinda Maynor
- Blood and treasure : Daniel Boone and the fight for America’s first frontier / Drury, Bob
- The Apache wars : the hunt for Geronimo, the Apache Kid, and the captive boy who started the longest war in American history / Hutton, Paul Andrew
- Go home, Ricky! : a novel / Kwak, Gene
- The sentence : a novel / Erdrich, Louise
- The healing of Natalie Curtis / Kirkpatrick, Jane
- Crooked hallelujah / Ford, Kelli Jo
- The removed / Hobson, Brandon
- The only good Indians : a novel / Jones, Stephen Graham
- There there / Orange, Tommy
- An Afro-Indigenous history of the United States / Mays, Kyle
- Native women changing their worlds / Cutright, Patricia J.
- Diné bizaad : speak, read, write Navajo / Goossen, Irvy W.
- The Cherokee syllabary : writing the people’s perseverance / Cushman, Ellen
- Tracks that speak : the legacy of Native American words in North American culture / Cutler, Charles L.
Young Readers’ Room
- Everything you wanted to know about Indians but were afraid to ask / Treuer, Anton
- The Marshall Cavendish illustrated history of the North American Indians / Oakley, Ruth
- Sisters of the Neversea / Smith, Cynthia Leitich
Young Adult (located in our Teen Underground area on the lower level)
- Firekeeper’s daughter / Boulley, Angeline
- An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People / Reese, Debbie
- Apple: Skin to the Core: a Memoir in Words and Pictures / Gansworth, Eric
- Redbone: The True Story of a Native American Rock Band / Staebler, Christian (YA Graphic Novel)
Finding home again: the harrowing journey of the refugee
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the meaning of home. I recall a line from the journal of fictional character John-boy Walton, “Home, an island, a refuge, a haven of love.”
Our homes, and by extension, our communities, are supposed to be our refuge. We know and love others in our communities; we have comfort in the customs and language of our people. So, what is it like to be forced to flee our homes, especially by the threat of violence in a time of war — when our neighbors are dying and our familiar is being demolished — and become refugees? Several critically acclaimed new books at A.K. Smiley Public Library address the refugee’s plight.
I began contemplating this topic while reading I Will Die in a Foreign Land, a debut novel by Kalani Pickhart. An award-winning historical fiction, it is set during the 2013-14 Ukrainian revolution, when then-President Yanukovych chose to forge an alliance with Russian President Putin, and thousands of Ukrainian citizens chose independence by peacefully protesting. Their protests were met with violence by military police, killing over one hundred civilians.
Pickhart weaves into the novel the fictional stories of protestors whose paths cross, while deftly filling out a tapestry with historical and cultural threads. Though she does not address the plight of the refugee who has fled, she does connect us with characters in upheaval, those who remain in order to fight for the home in which they are no longer comfortable, the democratic home they want to save.
Two other award-winner titles deal with the harrowing true accounts of recent refugees.
The Naked Don’t Fear the Water: An Underground Journey with Afghan Refugees was written by Canadian war reporter Matthieu Aikins. In 2016, Aikins chose to join his friend, Omar, a young Afghan driver, translator, and former interpreter for the American military, in his dangerous journey on the smuggler’s road to Europe, one of millions of refugees who left their homes that year. Omar was raised in exile in Iran and Pakistan, returning to Kabul as a teenager in 2002, only to have the Taliban return to power in 2015. Aikins describes their journey as “mostly waiting punctuated by moments of terror.”
Those We Throw Away Are Diamonds: A Refugee’s Search for Home is chronicled by refugee Mondiant Dogon, with journalist Jenna Krajeski. Dogon was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo to a Tutsi family. At age three, he and his family fled his home village; the Rwandan genocide against Tutsis had spread into Congo. In the Rwandan refugee camp where they stayed, food was scarce. Later, desperate for a better life, Dogon returned to Congo, only to be imprisoned there, and forced into becoming a child soldier. As an adult, he has earned an MA in international education from New York University, and has become a human rights activist and refugee ambassador. The book’s title comes from one of his poems.
One other new contribution, Learning America: One Woman’s Fight for Educational Justice for Refugee Children, recounts the efforts of a former refugee who wishes to share her good experience in America after arriving from Jordan. She is author Luma Mufleh who designs productive learning environments for refugee children. Mufleh believes in healing their traumas to help foster belonging, ultimately aiding the success of their education, and creating that “haven of love.” She is the founder of Fugees Family, with schools now in Georgia and Ohio and an expanding footprint bringing educational equity to refugee resettlement communities across America.
For easy access to these titles in the Library’s catalog, find this article on Smiley Blog on our website, www.akspl.org, or directly at www.blog.akspl.org. Using your library card, you may reserve a book through our catalog, at no charge, by clicking on “Place Hold.”
For more reading recommendations on Ukraine, find Toward Understanding the War in Ukraine, a Reading List, published in February on Smiley Blog.