Blogs: People and Places

November is Native American History month, and one way you can celebrate American Indians this month, and throughout the year, is by diversifying your reading and research. Did your teacher assign you an author biography? Why not select a Native author for your report, and read one of their books while you are gathering facts about their life. Here are five great authors to get you started:

  • Sherman Alexie is Spokane/Coeur d'Alene and was Multnomah County Library’s 2013 Everybody Reads author. If you type his name in the search box on the library's homepage you will find both facts about him and booklists featuring his work. Alexie writes for both adult and young adult readers.

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  • Tim Tingle is Choctaw and writes children’s and young adult books. Many of his books for children are folk tales because Tingle is also a storyteller. In this interview he speaks about the historical perspective of Native American storytelling.

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  • Cynthia Leitich Smith is Muscogee Creek. She is the author of fiction for children and young adults, and her work includes thevery popular supernatural series Tantalize. She is also an avid blogger interviewing other authors, reviewing new books, and giving away advanced review copies!

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  • Joseph Bruchac is Abenaki and is the author of short stories, novels, and poetry. He is a prolific author, writing for all ages across many genres.

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If you are looking for more Native authors or book titles that properly represent the Native Nations in the United States visit American Indians in Children’s Literature . This great resource is written and curated by Debbie Reese, teacher, who is tribally enrolled at Nambe Pueblo in northern New Mexico.

Still need more information? Ask a librarian

Born in Seattle, Washington, James Marshall Hendrix is regarded as one of the greatest musicians in the history of rock music. According to Rolling Stone Jimi was more than just the best guitarist of all time--he was also a major cultural icon of the 1960s. The guitarist, who was also a singer and songwriter, taught himself how to play as as teenager. He started making a name for himself in the music industry as a pick up guitarist during the early 1960s. Jimi first achieved fame in the U.K., and then in America following his performance at the Montery Pop Festival in 1967. His untimely death in 1970 left a hole in the rock and roll scene, but his legend lives on forever. Since today is his birthday, take a minute to learn more about Jimi Hendrix and his unique music style. 

  jimi hendrix At the official Jimi Hendrix site and at you can read about Jimi, hear his music, and watch video clips.

Jimi was the guitar master, but how does a guitar work? Learn more about the physics of playing guitar in this TED-Ed video:

Ready to rock out some more with Jimi? Just ask a librarian!



Hollywood movies and TV shows are full of stereotypes. To find the truth, you need to do good  research.

When I start my search, I make a list of all the names I know that might be good to search. Many tribes have both their own name and an anglicized name (for example, Diné  and Navajo) and it’s good to search under both. For more general searches, search multiple terms such as: Indian, Native American, First People or First Peoples,or try searching ”culture”  and “indigenous” with the geographical area, for example American indigenous culture.

When doing online research on Native Americans I check not only what the website says, but who is providing the information. Techniques for Evaluating Native American Websites provides good tips on what to look for. Does the website present a view that the people it describes support? Is the information current? Does the information come from Native Americans themselves? Many new age sites and commercial websites that are trying to sell you something take Indian culture and rewrite it for their own needs. If the website is created by an institution like a museum, or government agency, remember that it might represent that institution’s perspective, but not necessarily the perspective of Native peoples.

When looking at historical issues of newspapers, like The Historical Oregonian I have to consider that many of those stories will include racism and one-sided views that were common at the time.”Historic Newspaper Accounts of Oregonian Native Americans” provides some good insight into the slant of these articles over time, both good and bad.

Need more help? Contact a librarian to be sure you get what you need.


Searching for information on Native American tribes and Native nations? These big web sites may be able to help you.

You can search tribes alphabetically to learn about them, and learn about native languages as well as native culture. Try putting the name of the tribe you are looking for in the search box to see what other information they list, or scroll down to find the names of tribes listed alphabetically.

If you would rather search by location using a map, you can find state-by-state information, covering historic and contemporary information, languages, culture and history.

If you still need more help, contact a librarian to be sure you get what you need.


Black History Month: More Than Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. This marks the end of our month long journey of learning and exploration. We hope you enjoyed and learned facts about Black History Month that you didn't previously know. Thank you for joining us!

Aasha Benton

February 28, 2015

Painting by Aasha Benton

Aasha's story goes a bit like this. She graduates from college in 2012 and moves back to her hometown right here in Portland, Oregon. She discovers a love for art. So, she begins to paint. Taking inspiration from various periods in Black history and soul music, she creates incredible, yet simple, works. Her paintings are fun, colorful, serious and obtainable. Best of all? You can check them out here!

Further Exploration:

Available at Multnomah County Library:



Dynamic Design Duo


February 27, 2015

Culturally Creative lunch boxes and water bottles

Photo Credit:

Source:  Kayin Talton and Cleo Davis

Kayin Talton and Cleo Davis are a husband and wife designing force. If you can think of it, they can create it! Recently named curators of the Williams Art Project, their talent and ingenuity will soon be displayed for all to see and enjoy.  When they aren’t creating for the Williams Art Project, you can find them at 3940-3944 N Williams Ave. for all of your designing needs. Or, you can find them online where they specialize in being “culturally creative.” In their own words, “As part of the Honoring the African American History of N Williams Art Project, we are combining stories, memories, and locations to create what is essentially a walk through mid-century life in Portland’s largest Black community. Follow us on twitter @blkwilliamspdx for updates on the project, and share your stories using #blackwilliamspdx.”  Be sure to join in!

Jamila Clarke


Photographer Jamila Clarke Photo: JamilaClarke\.com

She takes DIY to another level, and she could be the city’s best kept secret.  Jamila Clarke is an impressive creative and she’s good, really good! Clarke does design, illustration, interactive, photography and print, and she even makes jewelry! According to Clarke, her jewelry is “vintage inspired handmade resin jewelry with a modern twist.” More good news: She is right here in Portland. You can find her here , here and here.

Further Exploration:

Available at Multnomah County Library: Northwest Passage, The Birth of Portland’s D.I.Y Culture by Lastra, Mike (DVD)


Kenneth Doswell


BettyJean Couture owner Kenneth Doswell Photo: Oregonlive

Kenneth Doswell is the owner of Bettyjeancouture. He made personal history in 2014 when he received his first national fashion award, Designer of the Year at New York’s Full Figured Fashion week. He only designs for women.  Doswell’s designs are a fashion work of art combining nostalgia with contemporary elements.  He ignores trends and creates beautiful, longlasting fashion.  For most, he is a well kept secret.  If truth be told, Doswell entered the fashion scene at 8 years of age. He designs and creates clothing for leading women. The beauty of it all, his clothes are affordable and he’s right here in Portland!


Further Exploration:

Available at Multnomah County Library: Michelle Obama, First Lady of Fashion and Style by Swimmer, Susan


Deena Pierott


iUrban founder Deena Pierott Photo: nten\.org

In 2011, Deena Pierott starts iUrban Teen with a focus on introducing, supporting and propelling students in the vast areas of technology. Specifically, iUrban aims to increase technology participation in male Black, Latino and Native American teens. Through interactive summits, tours, trainings and a hands-on approach, iUrban garners national attention. In 2013, Pierott is recognized as a Champion of Change for Technology Inclusion at the White House. More good news: iUrban is right here in Portland!

Further Exploration:

Available at Multnomah County Library: African American Firsts in Science and Technology by Webster, Raymond B.

D’wayne Edwards


Pensole Founder D'wayne Edwards Photo: bmeccommunity

When he's 17, he crushes the competition in a Reebok design competition. While attending college, he secures a job with L.A. Gear, an old-school footwear company. Every day he submits shoe drawings and a suggestion to hire him as a shoe designer. After submitting a total of 180 sketches, he’s offered a job as the youngest footwear designer in the industry at that time. Eventually, his hard work and determination land him a job at Nike as design director for brand Jordan. His designs sell more than $1 billion, he owns over 30 patents and designs shoes for some of the world’s top athletes, woosh! He decides to leave Nike and use his own money to start Pensole, a shoe design academy. And he’s right here in Portland!

Further Exploration:

Available at Multnomah County Library: Footwear Design by Choklat, Aki


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