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Broadening the Bookshelves: Arctic & Sub-Arctic Native American Literature

Native American Literature: A look into Inuit and Aleutian literatures and the importance of history, culture, and challenging assumptions.

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The following journey into Arctic & Sub-Arctic Native American Literature is an installment in the author’s Broadening the Bookshelves column, seeking to examine topics like unconscious bias and diversity in reading

Twenty years ago, I went to visit Canada on a cushy trip with my parents. I walked away with a Qiviut sweater and a pile of Inukshuk charms to share with my friends and deep impressions of how much I like Arctic and subarctic environments. I also walked away with zero understanding of what it means to be Inuit, despite the strong Inuit presence in Canada. And although we’d visited Alaska many years before then, and I’d become enamored of the land, my knowledge of what it meant to be Aleut was limited to what I’d read in Scott O’Dell’s children’s classic, Island of the Blue Dolphins.  (Ed. note: O’Dell is white.) Insofar as I knew, the Aleuts were ferocious otter hunters. The extent of my ignorance is stunning.

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