For Native American Heritage Month

Native American hoop dancer with her interlocked hoops above her head against a sunny sky.

Native American Heritage Month Celebration

Saturday, Nov 5
11 am – 3 pm
East Columbia Branch

Celebrate Native American culture and resilience at this free event. Filled with performances, arts and crafts, and food vendors (including Navajo tacos), you can have lunch, do a little shopping, and enjoy amazing traditional dance.

2 pm: Meet the Author Brian Lee Young
An enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, Young grew up on the Navajo Reservation and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. His debut novel, Healer of the Water Monster, shares the story of a seemingly ordinary Navajo boy who must save the life of a Water Monster—and who comes to realize that he’s a hero at heart.

Performances by:
Angela Gladue
Chris EagleHawk
Shawn Iron Maker
Max Yamne
Rose Powhatan
Lance Fisher & Giovanna
Walking Eagle

Sponsored by Capital Native Nations and Nava Be Diné

Understanding Land Acknowledgements and How to Move Beyond Them

Thursday, Nov 10
7 – 8:30 pm
Miller Branch
Register here.

“Land acknowledgments” are statements that recognize Indigenous peoples dispossessed of their land and/or relationships with land by settler colonists. These statements are seen as an effective and ethical way to begin acknowledging Indigenous sovereignty, begin correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture, and begin inviting and honoring the truth.

Join Maryland State Arts Council Folklife Specialist Ryan Koons for a presentation about land acknowledgements using materials from MSAC’s Land Acknowledgement Project. In this project, MSAC staff engaged in compensated consultations with tribal elders from American Indian tribes whose lands are claimed by Maryland. Most importantly, this presentation will discuss ways to move beyond land acknowledgements towards positive change led by tribal peoples.

Reading Human Rights

Thursday, Nov 17
6:30 – 7:30 pm
Savage Branch
Register here.

The book cover depicts two feathers facing in opposite directions, sketched in brown ink against a bright orange background, with the title in yellow lettering.

Reading Human Rights is a monthly book discussion hosted by the Howard County Office of Human Rights & Equity and Howard County Library System. We read books that promote cultural awareness, diversity, and equity.

In November, we read and discuss national bestseller There There by Tommy Orange (also available in large print, e-Book, e-Audiobook, and book on CD formats). This wondrous and shattering novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. Hailed as an instant classic, There There is at once poignant and unflinching, utterly contemporary, and truly unforgettable.

Native Expulsion & Manifest Destiny

Monday, Nov 21
7 – 8 pm
online
Register here.

This talk explores westward expansion and its impact upon Native communities.

Even though the phrase ‘manifest destiny’ was not used in print until 1845, the spirit of American expansionism that it referred to was very apparent long before the 1840s. Americans had been talking about pushing westward as if it was their manifest destiny ever since folks in Jamestown in the 1600s had started eyeing the land on which Natives were settled.

University of Maryland historian Richard Bell begins by tracking the story of Native expulsion and colonial expansion from the Revolution era through the 1850s, paying particular attention to the ways in which the West and westward expansion came to be romanticized in the American imagination.

Living Nations, Living Words

The image has the book title superimposed over a black and white map of North America.

Wednesday, Nov 30
7 – 8 pm
Miller Branch
Register here.

Explore Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s edited poetry collection and accompanying project for the Library of Congress: “Living Nations, Living Words.” Listen to poems and author commentary, explore an interactive story-map, reflect on common themes, and discuss Native American representation in literature and society.

The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

Deep green mountains fade to brilliant yellow and orange to the top and bottom of the cover. Dark branches cross the orange sections, with leaves traced in gold.

by Kristen B.

A highly lyrical novel, The Mountains Sing talks about the price of war and who pays it. At one point, one of the characters muses that if only everyone could spend more time reading books, maybe we would spend less time fighting wars. It seems like a particularly timely sentiment.

Set in Vietnam, The Mountains Sing is told between a grandmother and her granddaughter, with one timeline taking place during the 1950s and the other in the 1970s. Both decades were particularly turbulent ones, covering the rise of the Viet Minh, the Land Reform movement, and the war between north and south that so fatefully embroiled America.

America has repeatedly told the story of its Vietnam War, particularly in films such as Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket. Nguyen’s book provides another perspective, almost entirely. A noted author and poet in her homeland, this is her first novel in English. On her website, she explains that the second language allowed her to frame a story that she didn’t necessarily know how to tell in her native tongue.

Tran Dieu Lan was born to a well-to-do farming family that owned their land and employed several people in their hometown in the middle region of Vietnam. Politics eventually brought the downfall of the small landowners, forcing Dieu Lan to flee her home with five children in tow, grieving her oldest who escapes separately. She slowly, reluctantly leaves them in relative safety along the long walk north to Hanoi, promising to come back to find them once she’s settled.

Her granddaughter, Huong (or Guava), grows up in Hanoi and goes to school during the worst of the American bombing raids and after as the communist government establishes itself. The two women live together in the old city while all the members of the in-between generation are taken away by the war in one way or another. Huong’s own troubles and those of her extended family illustrate the trials of ordinary Vietnamese people during the turbulent times. She struggles to understand the adults in her life, and how the war changed them.

As the book progresses, Dieu Lan rediscovers her entire family as she originally pledged – both as children when they fled their village and later as the war ends. Grandma’s story is an agonizing portrayal of the hard choices women make to survive.

The title references a small native bird. Huong’s father carves a wooden version for her while he’s gone to war. The name of the bird translates to “the mountains sing” for its constant song, but its survival became endangered after Agent Orange was used on the upland regions. The symbolic heart of the book, the wooden carving comforts Huong and reminds us of the fragile nature of peace and the continued hope that, one day, the mountains will sing again.

The title is also available as an eBook and an audiobook on CD.

Kristen B. is a devoted bookworm lucky enough to work as the graphic designer for HCLS. She likes to read, stitch, dance, and watch baseball (but not all at the same time).