Pulitzer Book Club Inclusion Guide

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GET THE BOOK

"The Night Watchman" by Louise Erdrich

INCLUSION MILESTONES

2021

• Police support conviction of George Floyd's murderer
• Most diverse U.S. Cabinet
• NASA Headquarters Building renamed after agency's first Black female engineer

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AUTHOR INSPIRATIONS

The plot was inspired by Louise Erdrich’s grandfather, a night watchman and member of Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, who successfully organized opposition to a Congressional bill that attempted to break treaties with Native Americans, dispossess Native Americans of their lands, and eliminate federal assistance and recognition of Indigenous people.

Featured Reader Wanted!

Featured Reader

– Share your key take-away about inclusion in this book in a sentence or two.
– Write a paragraph or two (up to 250 words) to describe your thoughts on exclusion/inclusion in the book, why you related or did not connect with the book, and why you think reading, inclusion and dialog about inclusion matter.
– Identify the name and website address of a cause you support with an inclusive mission.

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Nightwatchman spends days fighting Congressional bill to terminate Native Americans rights.

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Patrice performs underwater in a poisonous mermaid/ox costume.

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Inside look at life in a Native American tribe in the 1950s, including the fictionalized backstory of how the Chippewa prevented discriminatory legislation.

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451 pages or 13.5 listening hours, moves quickly either way.

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You. Injustice is prevented by individuals with the conviction and courage to do and give whatever they can to make things right.

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This novel puts the spotlight on the crimes of the U.S. government against Native American people and how one man prevented outrageous legislation. There’s also exploration of inclusion/exclusion in the workplace, exploitation of women, relationships with people inside/outside a tribe, and what it takes to be part of a family.

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This is lunch on the job; you bring yours in a maple syrup bucket. You’re ravenous but food is precious, so you eat very slowly. Today you might be having raisins or nuts which you can enjoy one at a time. If your packed fried dough with lard but forgot to cook it, you’ll benefit from the largesse of your friends.

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“The services that the government provides to Indians might be likened to rent. The rent for the use of the entire country of the United States.”

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Your options are a primitive but tidy home, a factory where people do repetitive work that requires dexterity, steady hands and good vision, or very skeevy bar.

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Describe the bureaucratic language of the congressional bill and its true intent.
Compare how the characters in the novel communicated to the language of Washington.
How does the night watchman organize and motivate his tribe?
What did you learn about Indian identify and treatment of Native Americans from this novel?
What made Wood Mountain part of the family?
How did the Native American characters treat the White characters and vice versa?
Compare how people interacted on native land to the cities.
How did poverty influence how people helped each other and desire to send a child to school?

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Ideally, travel by train. Head out to the Turtle mountain Chippewa Heritage Center in Belcourt, North Dakota. Take a side trip to the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum in Bismark. Another option is a trip to Washington, D.C. where you can visit National Museum of the American Indian Smithsonian then go to the Capitol and imagine you are Thomas and have to testify there. Other Native American Museums are on https://www.powwows.com/10-of-the-best-native-american-museums-in-the-united-states/

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“The Master Butcher,” 2019 TV series based on Erdrich’s novel “The Master Butchers Singing Club”

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“Love Medicine” (1984; expanded edition, 1993), “The Beet Queen” (1986), “Tracks” (1988), “The Bingo Palace” (1994),“The Round House” (2012), “The Plague of Doves” (2008) and
"The Sentence" (2021)