Arts based workshops to foster critical inquiry and civic engagement
The Brown Bookshelf, designed to push awareness of the myriad Black voices writing for young readers.
The Conscious Kid Library is an education, research, and policy organization dedicated to reducing bias and promoting positive identity development in young children. They promote access to diverse children’s books that center underrepresented and oppressed groups.
Lee and Low Books, a family run company committed to publishing diverse books that are about everyone, for everyone. They are dedicated to cultural authenticity.
Diverse Book Finder, a database collection of more than 2,000 children’s picture books featuring people of color and Indigenous people.
Only 1% of the children’s books published in the U.S. in 2016 featured Indigenous characters, and even fewer (1/4 of the 1% = 8 books total) were written by Indigenous authors. The following are by Indigenous authors.
First Nations Reading List – The staff members of First Nations Development Institute have compiled a list of what they consider to be essential reading for anyone interested in the Native American experience.
by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland
When Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school, she is confused, frightened and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from despite being told to do otherwise.
by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Danielle Daniel
Written to prompt a dialogue among young people, their care providers and educators about reconciliation and the importance of the connections children make with their friends, classmates and families.
by Wab Kinew, illustrated by Joe Morse
Celebrating the stories of Indigenous people throughout time, Wab Kinew has created a powerful rap song, the lyrics of which are the basis for the text in this beautiful picture book.
by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett
When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long, braided hair and beautifully colored clothing? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family?
by Robbie Robertson, illustrated by David Shannon
Tells the story of Hiawatha, a strong Mohawk who was chosen to translate the Peacemaker’s message of unity for the five warring Iroquois nations during the 14th century. This message not only succeeded in uniting the tribes but also forever changed how the Iroquois governed themselves — a blueprint for democracy that would later inspire the authors of the U.S. Constitution.
By Chiori Santiago, illustrated by Judith Lowry
Two young brothers are separated from their family and sent to live in a government-run Indian residential school in the 1930s—an experience shared by generations of Native American children throughout North America. At these schools, children were forbidden to speak their Indian languages and made to unlearn their Indian ways. Sadly, they were often not able to go home to their families for summer vacation. Native American artist Judith Lowry based this story on the experiences of her father and her Uncle Stanley.
by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu
The affirming story of how a contemporary Native girl turns to her family and community to help her dance find a voice.
Tip: Cynthia Leitich Smith has written and/or illustrated many high quality children’s books.
by Traci Sorell and Frané Lessac
A picture book about gratitude, which features Cherokee words and the Cherokee alphabet. From celebrating “the ancestors’ sacrifices to preserve our way of life” to a Grandmother revealing what the Cherokee name of a newborn baby will be, the people give thanks.
by Tim Tingle, illustrated by Karen Clarkson
Tells the story of the author’s family move from Oklahoma Choctaw country to Pasadena, TX. Spanning 50 years, Saltypie describes the problems encountered by his Choctaw grandmother — from her orphan days at an Indian boarding school to hardships encountered in her new home on the Gulf Coast.
By Aslan Tudor
At the not-so-tender age of 8, Aslan arrived in North Dakota to help stop a pipeline. A few months later he returned – and saw the whole world watching. Read about his inspiring experiences in the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock.
by Tim Tingle and Jeanne Rorex Bridges
A fictional picture book inspired by true tales of Native Americans in the Southeastern United States aiding African Americans who were escaping slavery. In what is Mississippi today, the Bok Chitto river was the border between the Choctaw nation and a plantation. Before the Trail of Tears, if an enslaved person escaped into Choctaw land, the slave owner could not follow to catch him.
By Louise Erdrich
This charming, yet unstintingly realistic novel tells the story of Omakayas, a girl whose name means Little Frog, who is growing up near Lake Superior in the 1840s. This makes a great companion series for those who love the Little House on the Prairie Books
by Simon Ortiz and Sharol Graves
This groundbreaking tale of American Indian history, oppression, and resistance was first written in 1977 and was recently re-released for today’s children. In just 24 pages, this picture book powerfully shares history that spans from first contact with the Europeans to modern struggles against poverty and suffering.
by Bruchac, Joseph
After being taught in a boarding school run by whites that Navajo is a useless language, Ned Begay and other Navajo men are recruited by the Marines to become Code Talkers, sending messages during World War II in their native tongue.
Tip: Joseph Bruchac has written many books for all ages, including multiple creation story books.
By Louise Erdrich
Won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and introduced many of the characters that populated her subsequent books. The book spans sixty years and centers on the love triangle between members of the Ojibwa tribe living on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in North Dakota
Tip: Louise Erdrich has written an entire brilliant series based on these same characters.
By Joyce Harjo
In this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo details her journey to becoming a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the Trail of Tears, Harjo grew up learning to dodge an abusive stepfather by finding shelter in her imagination, a deep spiritual life, and connection with the natural world.
by Tommy Orange
Multigenerational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people. It tells the story of twelve characters, each of whom have private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. Finalist for Pulitzer Prize. Local writer.
Master Performer Eddie Madril wowed the students at Davidson Middle School as he performed sacred dances and spoke about the importance of understanding Native American history. Eddie, also a professor at San Francisco State University, talked about the Iroquois Confederacy which had operated since the 16th century and was the basis of the American constitution. He invited students up to the stage to learn some of the dances, and Principal Bob Marcucci was even game to join in learning some of the challenging, Hoop Dance.
In addition, Youth in Arts honored students in the Media and Theatre arts classes taught by Mentor Artists, Sophie Cooper and Margaret Hee, with a series of awards. The following were recognized:
Youth in Arts Awards
Cody Lucich Award for Confidence is given to students who exhibit a willingness to take risks and show confidence in their approach to making art. It is given to students who are undaunted in their approach to art-making and utilize innovative ideas to express themselves. Cody Lucich is a filmmaker who works extensively in community-based ‘Native media.’
Carrie Mae Weems Award for Compassion is given to students who are good listeners, who care about other people’s perspectives, and who demonstrate the potential to be a positive community-builder. Carrie Mae Weems is a photographer who also works with text, fabric, audio, digital images, and installation video.
Juana Alicia Award for Creativity is given to students who utilize their imagination to create exciting new ways to showcase their artistic voice. Juana Alicia, is a Bay Area muralist, printmaker, educator, activist and, painter.
Lin-Manuel Miranda Award for Determination is given to students who are hard workers, determined and diligent about learning and making art. Lin-Manuel Miranda is an American composer, lyricist, playwright, and actor best known for creating and starring in the Broadway musicals In the Heights and Hamilton.
Thank you the California Arts Council for supporting this program.
Mentor Artist Eddie Madril reports on his latest residency in San Rafael:
In a beautiful surrounding, the children at Glenwood Elementary School in San Rafael got the opportunity to experience learning, trying, and “honing their craft” at various American Indian dance styles. The teachers encouraged their exploration and learning of Native culture, history, and world views while challenging themselves at Grass Dance, Fancy Dance, Fancy Shawl Dance, and Hoop Dance. These are all dances that can be seen at powwows across the U.S. Of course, the teachers also engaged in trying the dances themselves as any good teacher would do in order to lead by example. They worked so hard at their dancing that one day we had to try a few traditional Native games, and they did great!
The Sewam Dance of the Plains Indians assemblies at Edna Maguire Elementary School were a great success. Eddie Madril performed several different Plains Indians dances for the preK through 5th grade student audiences. His incredibly engaging dances culled with chanting and singing, had students, teachers and parents enraptured.
In addition to his solo performances, he also invited students to perform two different dances with him. For the first group dance, each teacher chose one student to participate onstage with Eddie. The big surprise came when those teachers were asked to join in as well. All fifteen got up, linked hands, and enthusiastically danced with Eddie and their students. The long line of participants weaved in and out of the crowd, much to audience’s delight.
The hoop dance was a particular highlight. Students experienced firsthand how challenging it is to work with the hoops when Eddie asked them to pick the hoops up with their feet. After they sat down, Eddie put on a breathtaking performance of the very complicated dance. Using eight hoops, Eddie transformed himself into a bird. The audible audience reactions clearly showed how awestruck the students were.
Eddie’s handmade regalia is artwork unto itself. The colorful feathers, embroidery and beadwork bring even more life to his dances. During the assemblies, Eddie explained the significance of what he wore in relation to the cultural history and traditions of various Native American tribes. He taught the students the meaning behind each dance and song performed as well.
Cara Guyot, the PTA volunteer who organized the assembly for Edna Maguire’s students praised, “We loved the assembly! In my three years of doing assemblies, this is the first time that I have received thank you emails from parents who heard such rave reviews from their children. Eddie really connected with the kids!”
Last week, the students and faculty of Ross School joined Youth in Arts Mentor Artists on a colorful world journey through the performing arts! We “traveled” through North America, Asia, South America and Europe, participating in art forms from each region. The school was set up with a “station” for each region and students traveled from place to place in their class groups.
In North America, Eddie Madril and Sara Moncada shared traditions and dances of the Plains Indians. Sara performed a Fancy Shawl dance for women and Eddie shared the Hoop Dance and even gave students a chance to work a little with the Hoop themselves! The program was a unique opportunity to learn about the cultural contexts in which these dances are performed and the significance of Plains Indian ceremonial practices and intricately made regalia.
During our time in Asia, William Rossel and Jim Santi Owen gave a stunning demonstration of Indian tablas and how the rhythms are connected to language. Students learned about the special way that tablas are made, in order to produce multiple tones, but also discovered that most drums can produce a “high” or “low” tone. They then had an opportunity to play a variety of drums, learning traditional rhythmic patterns.
Arriving in Europe, students were introduced to traditional characters from Italian Commedia dell’Arte. Theater artists Keiko Shimosato Carreiro and Ed Holmes took on the roles of Columbina, the clever kitchen maid; Arlecchino, the comic clown; Pulcinella, the gluttonous dullard; and Capitano, the cowardly braggart, as they demonstrated Commedia elements such as a lazzi (a comic “bit” that a company would build into all its shows) or the slapstick (a noisemaker used in mock fights and the origin of the term “slapstick comedy”). Students practiced becoming characters like the know-it-all Dottore and the treacherous Brighella.
In South America, dance artist Stephanie Bastos taught students the joyful samba reggae dance from Brazil accompanied by percussionist Jules Hilson. As a mid-day treat, Stephanie, Jules and fellow artists from Aguas da Bahia dance company transported the whole school to the streets of Brazil during Carnival with a lively assembly performance. Led by Artistic Director Tania Santiago, the group showed off swirling skirts, rhythm sticks and more as they performed maculele and other beautiful dances. The audience was stunned by a beautiful samba dancer on stilts, and then joined in for a final samba reggae dance-along.
On behalf of Youth in Arts, we would like to thank all of our friends at Ross school for traveling the world with us. We look forward to our next adventure!
Brothers Eddie and Marcos Madril put on a wonderful Native American Dance and Music performance at Sutter Elementary School in Santa Clara last week. A third grade teacher commented that Eddie and Marcos “were very energetic, fun to watch and very smart and knowledgeable about Native American culture.”
Highlights of the day included the entire school dancing with the performers, Eddie performing the amazing Hoop Dance, and the beautiful Native American dress. Yet again, Youth In Arts’ artists put on a captivating and highly lauded school assembly performance!
My students have never been so excited about a school assembly! They could not stop talking about how much they enjoyed Marcos and Eddie. They did such a great job engaging the students. Eddie talked to the students in a way that made the information accessible to all students. They were very informative! It was a great experience.
Join us in celebrating “back-to-school” season with a taste of our visual and performing arts offerings! See, hear, feel and explore the dance, music, theater and visual arts activities that Youth in Arts can provide for your school. August 27th and 28th from 12-2pm at the Northgate Mall.
Assembly program feature performances include Native American Hoop Dancing by Eddie Madril, Mexican Ballet Folklorico Netzahualcoyotl, Andean Music with Chaskinakuy, Mask Theater and Commedia dell’arte with Eliot Fintushel, Hawaiian dance with Halau Na Pua O Ka La’akea and Youth in Arts’ award-winning teen a cappella group ‘Til Dawn.
Visual Arts Workshops with Youth in Arts Mentor Artists Suzanne Joyal and Brooke Toczylowski. Everyone is invited to Northgate! Families, teachers, parents and students will discover how these amazing performing and visual artists can come to their schools. Our staff will be on hand to answer questions and explain how you can book events for the new school year.
Many thanks to our event partner, Northgate Mall!
Celebrate at Northgate!
FREE arts performances & workshops
SATURDAY & SUNDAY: AUGUST 27 & 28
12 noon – 2pm, both days
youthinarts.org • 415.457.4878