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American Indian Literature

This LibGuide is intended to help students find sources which will lead to information about American Indian Literature.


American Indian literature encompasses a growing body of work created before and after contact with colonizing forces[i] and connects oral history and storytelling to the written word, influencing the definition of literature.[ii] Identity is essential to the creation of American Indian literature, which covers a wide range of depths and experiences.[iii] Some of the first well-known American Indian writers include N. Scott Momaday and D’Arcy McNickle. Recent additions to the canon include Linda Hogan and Tommy Orange.[iv]

These sources lead to information about American Indian literature, history, and the bibliographical and biographical information of American Indian authors. Some of these sources require authorization through university or library affiliation. Some of the sources are dated due to the nature of the topic and the notion that for something to be “literature” it must withstand the test of time. 

[i] Gunther, Erna. “Native American Literature.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Last modified May 19, 2017. Accessed September 28, 2018.             

[ii] Wiget, “Introduction,” Dictionary of Native American Literature. 

[iii] Wiget, Andrew. 1994. “Introduction.” Dictionary of Native American Literature. Garland Reference Library of the Humanities. New York: Routledge.     

[iv] “Two Native authors among finalists for National Book Award.” Last modified September 14, 2018. Accessed October 6, 2018.

Search Terms

Use one or more of the following terms to locate information about American Indian Literature:

  • American Indian authors

  • American Indian literature

  • American Indian poetry

  • Native American authors

  • Native American literature

  • Native American poetry

  • Oral history

  • Storytelling

  • Contemporary Native American literature

Potential Research Questions

Who were the first well-known American Indian writers?

Where can I find bibliographies of American Indian writers?

Where can I find recent news about American Indian literature and authors?

Can I search for American Indian authors by nation or tribe?

What are some sources about genre and themes in American Indian literature?

Where can I learn about oral history and storytelling in American Indian literature?