My trip to New Mexico (posts here) piqued my interest in American Indian culture and contemporary life. It is a complicated, evolving topic, and one that there is little discussion on or depiction of in popular culture or journalism.
Louise Erdrich's novels have probably been my best source of understanding the realities of life on a reservation today. The complexities of honoring the old ways while living in the new ones. The poverty and prejudice. The Plague of Doves, which some consider her best novel, has characters who reappear in her latest novel, The Round House, which I recently finished and highly recommend.
The Round House is a crime story and a coming of age novel that takes place on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. The narrative is more straightforward, with less magic realism, than Erdrich's earlier novels. It's a beautifully written story filled with interesting characters--multi-generational and multi-layered, bittersweet and uplifting.
*Pictures taken at Taos Pueblo, New Mexico.
p.s. Lest you think I am not being politically correct, a couple of conversations I had led me to believe that the term Indian or Tribal Member is preferred to the p.c. Native American. I have no idea if that is widespread, but it's what the Indians I spoke to indicated.