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Big Idea Reading List

Start a conversation and create change in your community with a book club. Our resources and ideas are here to support you.


Rectifying "et al." History: The Women of Brown Project

By Donna Rae Pearson, Historian and Director of the Women of Brown Project. 

Read Pearson's Big Idea


Stories of Resilience and Determination: African American Genealogy Research in Kansas

By Sherri Camp, Genealogy Librarian and Author

Read Camp's Big Idea

  • READ African American Topeka (Arcadian Publishers) by Sherri Camp shares the heritage of Black life in the Kansas capitol city through photos and stories.

  • READ Revisit the masterpiece that sparked new interest in family research. Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley begins with a young enslaved man, Kunta Kinte, and follows his descendants as they live through history.


Democracy As a Matter of the Spirit

By Dr. Randal Jelks, Professor of African and African American Studies and American Studies at the University of Kansas.

Read Jelks's Big Idea

  • READ Letters to Martin: Meditations on Democracy in Black America by Randal Maurice Jelks (Chicago Review Press, 2022).


Doing Indigenous Language

By Dr. Andrew McKenzie (Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma), Associate Professor of Linguistics and Affiliate Professor in Indigenous Studies at the University of Kansas.

Read McKenzie's Big Idea

  • READ The Way to Rainy Mountain by N. Scott Momaday. Exploring Kiowa myths, legends, and history, this creative memoir is an evocation of three things in particular: a landscape that is incomparable, a time that is gone forever, and the human spirit, which endures. 

Turning Land Acknowledgements into Action…In a Good Way

By Dr. Alex Red Corn (Osage Nation), EdD, executive director of the Kansas Association of Native American Education, an assistant professor of educational leadership, and coordinator for Indigenous partnerships in the College of Education at Kansas State University.


  • Haskell Indian Nation’s University professor Rhonda LeValdo wrote about the importance of land acknowledgments in KANSAS! Magazine.
  • Critics of land acknowledgments say they relegate Indigenous people to the past. Learn more about contemporary Native America in David Treuer’s The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee (New York. Riverhead Books, 2019.)

Story As Medicine

By Dr. Rachel C. Jackson (Cherokee Nation), Assistant Professor of Native American Literatures & Cultural Studies and Rhetoric & Writing Studies at the University of Oklahoma.



Confronting the Legacy of Indian Boarding Schools

By Dr. Eric P. Anderson (Citizen Potawatomi Nation), Professor of History in the Indigenous & American Indian Studies program at Haskell Indian Nationas University. 


Natives Making News: Toward a More Authentic and Ethical Representation of American Indian Identity, Issues, and Individuals 

By Dr. Melissa Greene-Blye (Miami Tribe of Oklahoma), Assistant Professor in the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Kansas

Read Greene-Blye's Big Idea

Finally Breaking Through: The Current State of Indigenous Storytelling

By Rodrick Pocowatchit (Comanche, Pawnee and Shawnee nations), Wichita, Kansas-based filmmaker, graphic designer and writer.

Read Pocowatchit's Big Idea

  • Tommy Orange, There, There 
    This Pulitzer Prize finalist and first novel by Cheyenne and Arapaho author Orange, published in 2018, is truly engrossing and moving, and worth every emotion spent. It follows a large cast of Native Americans living in the Oakland, Calif., area and their battles with family and identity. 
  • Susan Power, The Grass Dancer 
    Standing Rock Sioux author Power’s book has a rich sense of place, set on a North Dakota reservation, and explores the harsh price of unfulfilled longings and the healing power of mystery and hope. Interlocking stories bring to life not just individual characters but also their links to one another in the past and the present. Lyrical and dreamy.
  • Cherie Dimaline, The Marrow Thieves
    In a futuristic world ravaged by global warming, people have lost the ability to dream, and the dreamlessness has led to widespread madness. The only people still able to dream are North America's Indigenous people, and it is their marrow that holds the cure for the rest of the world. But getting the marrow means death for the unwilling donors, who are being ruthlessly hunted. Driven to flight, a group of teens struggle for survival.
  • ​​Thomas M. Yeahpau, X-Indian Chronicles: The Book of Mausape
    In stories and poems mixing magical realism with unflinching reality, Kiowa author Yeahpau offers a raw, graphic view of life on a reservation, where a young “X-Indian” man named Mausape dreams he's about to compete against the King of All Fancy-Dancers -- who, it turns out, is really Elvis Presley in full Las Vegas regalia. The stories only get wonderfully weirder after that.

It's Time to Expand Our Views on Peacemaking

by Sheryl R. Wilson, Director of the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution

Read Wilson's Big Idea

It's Time to Understand the History of Black Voting Rights 

by Kim Warren, Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, School of Social Welfare and Associate Professor of History, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Kansas

Read Warren's Big Idea Essay

Coupling Jim Crow and Jane Crow

by Ayesha K. Hardison, Associate Professor of English and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas

Read Hardison's Big Idea


It’s Time to Recognize the History of Race and Baseball in Kansas: The Good, The Bad, and the Magnificent

by Phil S. Dixon, Author and Baseball Historian

Read Dixon's Big Idea



Seeing the World Through the Eyes of Gordon Parks

by Kirk Sharp, Director of the Gordon Parks Museum

Read Sharp's Big Idea

It's Time to Tell the Stories of African American Entrepreneurs

by Robert E. Weems, Jr., Willard W. Garvey Distinguished Professor of Business History, Wichita State University

Read Weems' Big Idea



Images from the Mind of a Bi-Racial Black Woman

by Ann Dean, professional photographer

Read Dean's Big Idea


It's Time to Reconnect with Nature

by Leslie VonHolten, writer and executive director of Symphony in the Flint Hills

Read VonHolten's Big Idea


Changing How We Talk About the Civil Rights Movement

by Clarence Lang, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Penn State University

Read Lang's Big Idea


It's Time to Change How We Talk About Immigrants

by Kandace Creel Falcón, Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Minnesota State University Moorhead

Read Falcón's Big Idea


We Need to Elevate Black Women's Stories

by Donna Rae Pearson, Local History Librarian at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library

Read Pearson's Big Idea

It's Time for More Representation in STEM

by Sarah Lamm, Colby native and doctoral student in planetary science at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff

Read Lamm's Big Idea

It's Time to Change the Way We Talk About Poverty

by Jason Wesco, Executive Vice-President of the Community Health Care Center

Read Wesco's Big Idea

How Should We Honor Someone's Military Experience?

by Tai S. Edwards, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Kansas Studies Institute at Johnson County Community College

Read Edwards' Big Idea


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