Notable Native People

English with tribal affiliations.

MG & Up



Historical Figures

Indigenous Voices

Adrienne Keene & Ciara Sana


I recognize that y’all might not believe me when I say that I’ve been looking forward to this arriving for weeks. Peeking into the mailbox with my fingers crossed that this beautiful book would be waiting for me. Notable Native People is a book about excellence, activism, and advocacy.

Unlike September 30th, the Day for Truth & Reconciliation, October 11th is Indigenous People’s Day. It’s celebrating the rich culture, continued strength and activism of the Indigenous community here on Turtle Island, or what is currently called North America/ Canada & the U.S.

Notable Native People is laid out in my favorite style, with a large illustrated portrait on one side of the double spread and a biography on the other page. I really enjoyed learning about Kalim Smith, a Muscogee Creek man that has been growing gourds his entire life for tribal uses, and well as for his wife’s hula school (they use them for instruments). Kalim started using a wheelchair when he was a doctoral student and has since developed new adaptive gourd growing techniques that are accessible for him.

Interspersed with past and present Native figures is more information about topics that greatly impact the Indigenous populations. Food sovereignty, language revitalization, Land Back, as well as breaking down the difference between settler colonialism (which is what we are currently doing) and external colonialism.

The artwork by Ciara Sana is beautiful, and the color palette is striking but muted. In the back there are also short blurbs about other folks that author Adrienne Keene couldn’t fit in the main text. She also included a significant amount of Indigenous Hawaiian individuals, and there is additional information about how the colonization of Hawai’i and Alaska was different from the mainland. This book is fantastically done, and I can’t recommend it enough!

This book was kindly sent by Ten Speed Press but all opinions are my own. It will be released on October 19th!

Adrienne Keene

Adrienne Keene is an Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies. Her research areas include college access, transition, and persistence for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Students, including the role of pre-college access programs in student success. Additionally, she examines representations of Native peoples in popular culture, Native cultural appropriation in fashion and design, and the ways that Indigenous peoples are using the internet, social media, and new media to challenge misrepresentations and create new and innovative spaces for art and activism.

As a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, Dr. Keene has a deep personal commitment to exploring research methodologies that empower Native communities and privilege Native voices and perspectives, with the ultimate goal of increasing educational outcomes for Native students. She is also dedicated to pushing back against stereotypes and misrepresentations of Native peoples on her blog, Native Appropriations (, which has received national and international attention as a voice on contemporary Indigenous issues. 

At Brown, Dr. Keene teaches courses on Indigenous Education, Native representations, and Native American Studies more broadly.

She earned her BA from Stanford University in Native American Studies and Cultural Anthropology, and her doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, in Culture, Communities, and Education. 

Ciara Sana

Guam raised, Bellingham based self-taught artist.

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