About Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids is an anthology edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith. This collection of intersecting stories by both new and veteran Native writers bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride.

Native families from Nations across the continent gather at the Dance for Mother Earth Powwow in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In a high school gym full of color and song, people dance, sell beadwork and books, and celebrate friendship and heritage. They will meet far-distant relatives, shadowy spirits, and sometimes one another (plus one scrappy rez dog). 

They are the heroes of their own stories.

Contributors include new voices, like Brian Young and Kim Rogers; rising stars, like Christine Day and Traci Sorell; and major names, like David A. Robertson and Tim Tingle.

EXCERPT: Foreword

Imagine you’re attending an intertribal powwow. 

Maybe it’s your first time. Maybe your family has been on the powwow trail for generations. 

You might make new friends or reunite with old ones. In line for fry bread, you could strike up a conversation with a vendor and buy a key chain from them later that day. From the bleachers, you could admire a dancer’s shawl and, that night, recognize her wearing everyday clothes on the way home. 

Through stories, poetry, and visual art, the contributors to this anthology coordinated their efforts—via phone calls, emails, texts, and an online task board—to reflect the interconnectedness of the powwow experience. We’ve filled this book with memorable characters . . . some of whom know each other, some of whom don’t, and all of whom are pleased to welcome you.

About Heartdrum

From HarperCollins Children’s Books, Heartdrum is a new Native-focused imprint led by award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek), and Rosemary Brosnan, Vice President, Editorial Director, Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins Children’s Books. 

Heartdrum will offer a wide range of innovative, unexpected, and heartfelt stories by Native creators, informed and inspired by lived experience, with an emphasis on the present and future of Indian Country and on the strength of young Native heroes.

The Heartdrum name and logo pay tribute to the connection between the drumbeat and the heartbeat it evokes of the Native community. Logo artist Nasuġraq Rainey Hopson (Iñupiaq) says, “The Native American population is beautifully diverse, and I wanted to capture the elements that we had in common and that unite us all: our connection with nature and our path towards balance and unity.”

As part of the imprint’s mission, Heartdrum has already made two donations to the We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) Native Fund, which were used for writing workshops. WNDB is supported by a network of writers, illustrators, agents, editors, teachers, librarians, and book lovers all united under the same goal—to create a world where every child can see themselves in the pages of a book.

Praise for Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids

"The entries tell of the personal struggles, family joy, belief systems, and stunning regalia of various nations, including the Cree, Ojibwe, Choctaw, Cherokee, Navajo, Abenaki, and Haudenosaunee, through the eyes of the young protagonists. Enrollment issues, Indian wannabes, and veterans’ histories are just a few of the serious themes addressed in these entertaining stories written by familiar and lesser-known writers alike. Senses of goodwill and humor pervade the book as well as the spirit of community, intersection, resilience, and a desire to remember the past. A joyful invitation to celebrate the circle of ancestors together."

  Kirkus Reviews (starred review) 

“Each piece is tribally specific, emphasizes Native values (cooperation, forgiveness, and the importance of family), and features characters that make cameo appearances in other stories, adding cohesiveness to the collection. With exceptionally strong writing throughout, and appended with glossary, author notes, and acknowledgements, this makes an appealing choice for those just learning about contemporary Indigenous life as well as readers well-versed with the powwow circuit.”

ALA Booklist (starred review)

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