We’re back with another Bookstagrammer of the Week and we’ve got a good one for ya today! With Indigenous and Native American Heritage Month coming to a close, we want to remind you that it’s easy to celebrate NDN Heritage all throughout the year. A few ways to do this includes diverisfying your bookshelf with Indigenous authors, making an effort to learn about culture without interfering or interjecting, or following some of these fantastic Bookstagram accounts like Carolann of @ndnbooknerd! Let’s dive into Carolann’s interview as our Bookstagrammer of the Week!
Carolann Jane Duro Mataweer
Welcome back to our Bookstagrammer of the Week. If you aren’t familiar with this segment of our lives I’m here to guide you through it! Every week, our fantastic outreach team here at Bookstr talks with several different Bookstagrammers who we think you guys would love! We interview them about important topics that are relevant to society and what’s going on in the world at that time. This week, we’ve talked with Carolann of @ndnbooknerd about Indigenous and Native American authors, representation, her bookshop and podcast, and even her good times with her dad! Come meet Carolann!
It’s obvious that reading is a passion of yours and we’re just dying to know– when did you first get into reading?
Some of my favorite early memories are sitting on my dad’s lap while he was reading the newspapers or his current book at the time after I stole his glasses and was trying to pretend to read like he was. I always and continue to look up to my dad as my biggest role model and I can also vividly remember my excitement when I was able to read Peter Rabbit by myself for the first time.
Since then I dove into all kinds of books, especially up to middle school. Once in high school, I did lose steam of my passion for reading and in college it was reignited as I tried to find time away from academic reading to enjoy reading for leisure and my own personal enjoyment. I find my mind and my soul to be nourished each time I reward myself with books.
Why did you start your Bookstagram, @ndnbooknerd? What does it mean to you?
I started my Bookstagram as a personal challenge to read more Indigenous authored literature and books, while inviting others on the journey with me. I started reading a lot of Native authors in 2019 and once the pandemic hit in 2020 I found myself indoors sharing my books with my YouTube channel to make connections I wasn’t able to get in person. That then sparked my motivation to start an Instagram and I was so shocked at the demand to engage with Native literature! I am really grateful every day for the friendships I’ve made and the massive milestones I’ve accomplished thanks to Indigenous Bookstagram.
What do you hope to one day see more of within Indigenous literature?
I hope to see even more variety of Native people’s niche, unique interests. I ended up exploring Stephen Graham Jones, a Blackfeet horror author just because I wanted to support Native horror fans and their love for a specific, interesting genre! There are all kinds of Native nerds out there that enjoy a huge variety of interests like metal music, anime, fitness, skateboarding, jiu-jitsu, theater, etc. etc. etc. I always find it so incredible to continue pushing the needle against Native stereotypes and showcasing our relation to the contemporary world!
As we mentioned, some of our audience is looking to diversify their bookshelf and expand their reading repertoire. Who are some of your favorite Indigenous or Native American authors?
Debra Magpie Earling is one of my new favorite Indigenous authors, she is Salish and recently reprinted her novel Perma Red and I just got word of her next project as well. Her writing is so extremely vivid, intense, and fierce. It is narrative fiction, but it feels like you’re reading long paragraphs of poetry that are so extremely descriptive and make the nature she is describing come alive around you.
Louise Erdrich always deserves her flowers and recognition, my recent favorite of hers is The Sentence and I love how her writing is so contemporary and modern. I usually say the kind of fiction that I love is the most realistic, relatable, and close to real life as it can get. I love stepping into the shoes of another character and wondering what life is like through their eyes.
Which books would you recommend for their accurate or positve representation of Indigenous characters?
The Seedkeeper by Diane Wilson is a super relevant insight right now into the lives of Native foster children/adoptees who are affected by the current Supreme Courts hearings of the Indian Child Welfare Act. Rosalie is separated from her Dakota family for most of her life after her father dies when she’s 12 years old and she’s taken on a complicated adult journey feeling lost and in the fight for survival building her new family.
I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about Native adoptees! Probably Ruby by Lisa-Bird Wilson tackles the exact same kind of narrative of a Native adoptee taken into a white family. Her story is even more complex and brutal as Ruby endures emotional turmoil being disconnected from her Métis roots her entire life. I give both those recommendations in a super timely response to the ICWA hearings that I hope to continue to pay attention to over the next several months.
Now, we’ve noticed that you’re on quite a few bookish platforms! Bookstagram, BookTok, BookTube, and you even run a pop-up bookshop, Quiet Quail Books– all the while you’re running a successful Bookstagram account! Becoming a successful Bookstagrammer like yourself can be challenging for those just starting out!
What’s one piece of advice that you would give to aspiring Bookstagrammers?
My biggest piece of advice would be to post consistently and maintain an excitement and passion for what you hope for it to grow into. Maintaining consistency and posting often can keep your engagement high and allow more and more people to discover you! Eventually of course we all meet challenges, negativity, and a bad experience. However, what matters most is after you validate the sadness and disappointment, pick yourself hope and remember that what matters the most is to try and to keep learning from your experiences!
We’ve talked a lot about what you’d recommend for us, but we’ve got to ask: What’s on your TBR right now?
I have far too many books on my TBR, but right now I’m most excited to start listening to the audio book of Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. I’m really not a fantasy reader, like I said before I really enjoy super realistic, modern fiction. I tend to get confused and lost in fantasy, but I’m hoping listening to the book for once might help! I’m also so eager to get my hands on an advanced copy of Don’t Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones, the sequel to my previous read of My Heart is a Chainsaw. I really need to know what happens next! I also haven’t read sequels since I was in high school.
Our time with Carolann is unfortunately coming to a close and we just have one final question for you!
What’s a fun fact about yourself?
I think something really fun about me as well is that in addition to books I am also a big public radio nerd. I love listening to NPR every single day and if I’m not listening to an audio book, I am certainly tuning into my local station to catch up on the latest news spots. Before accepting my position as a Linguist, I was super close to pursuing my career as a radio journalist. I’ve accepted that though it’s not my full time job anymore it’s still my greatest enjoyment to tune in every day and learn something new!
Head on over to our Instagram, @bookstrofficial, to check out Carolann’s feature! And remember to celebrate NDN and Indigenous Heritage year round! If you’re wanting to follow another fantastic NDN Bookstagrammer, check out our previous feature here!
For more Bookstragrammers you should follow, Bookstr’s got you covered, here!