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Our Story

Aniin! Boozhoo! Han and Hau! Welcome to Birchbark Books. There is no one like us in person, and no one like us online. We are not owned by a corporation; we are not part of a chain. We are that increasingly rare thing -- a tiny independent bookstore.

We exist to keep real conversations between book lovers alive. We exist to nourish and build a community based on books. We are a neighborhood bookstore, and also an international presence. Our visitors come from Minneapolis-St. Paul, from every U.S. reservation and Canadian reserve, and from all over the world. We are different from all other bookstores on earth!

We are a locus for Indigirati -- literate Indigenous people who have survived over half a millennium on this continent. We sponsor readings by Native and non-Native writers, journalists, historians. Check our photo gallery for highlights.

We are also a cozy little destination -- a neighborhood bookstore. Next door to the Kenwood restaurant. Just down the block from Bockey Gallery and ARTrageous Adventures. Around the corner from Framestyles, Stephen Dean's Tailors, and Kenwood Pet Clinic. Across the street from Kenwood Elementary. A stone's throw from Lake of the Isles.

More About Us

As the malling of America continues, it is our mission to be other.

Minneapolis and St. Paul have one of the largest concentrations of urban Native people in the United States. Birchbark Books provides a locus for Native intellectual life. We are native owned (Louise Erdrich is an enrolled Turtle Mountain Chippewa) and our staff is of either Native background, or exceedingly Native-friendly!

We also special order books, and appreciate these orders. We are committed to finding and stocking the very best in children's books, with a special emphasis on Native American titles. We hope that our lovingly made birchbark children's loft (built by Mr. Jim Geschke) and cozy kids chairs (stuffed by Rita Gourneau Erdrich) and the hobbit hole reading nook, will be one of those special spots children use happily and remember fondly.

We are a teaching bookstore. Ask us about our books and special displays. Our inventory includes quillwork, traditional basketry, silverwork, unusual dreamcatchers, and Native paintings. We deal directly with local, regional, and southwestern artisans, and can also special order whatever interests you. We stock traditional hand made objects available only seasonally, or as the artist completes them.

At present, we have an array of metal-work bracelets by Mitchell Zephier, Lakota. Totem earrings and necklaces, by Josef Reiter, Anishinabe. We have a great selection of bead and quill earrings by Emma Geyer, Manitou Rapids Anishinabe, freshly made red willow baskets by Curtis LaRoque and Debbie Cree, Turtle Mountain Chippewa. Star quilts by Pat Stuen, Turtle Mountain Chippewa. We have one-of-a-kind birdhouses made of barn wood, birchbark, shelf mushrooms, and other reclaimed materials, by Richard Bellefeuille, White Earth Anishinabe. Lakota shields, drums, dance and prayer sticks by Webster Two Hawk, and Zuni Pueblo Fetishes. As time goes on we feature other artists, and we always have a changing array of beautiful things.

Josef Reiter has also redesigned a pair of Louise's lucky silver feather earrings. Wearing these earrings, Louise experienced unprecedented luck. That is all I (she) can say. Unlikely positive attention from the Gods of Chance. There is nothing wrong with spreading luck around; in fact, it is a positive. So Josef made the lucky feathers available through Birchbark Books.

The Story of Our Store

In creating this store we have tried diligently to use salvage and stay non-toxic. Our doors are from the ReUse Center. Our globe lights are from an old school house. We are proud of our original wooden floor, which belonged to the meat market this once was. It took an enormous amount of volunteer effort to pry up two layers of plywood, three of linoleum, and one of tarpaper, and then to extract thousands of nails from the boards beneath! The result is very weathered and uneven, but the real thing.

We have our own personal confessional, rescued from its fate as a sound booth in a bar. One side is dedicated to Cleanliness, the other to Godliness. Louise is currently collaging the interior with images of her sins. The confessional is now a forgiveness booth, there for the dispensation of random absolution. Come visit and take advantage of this unusual bookstore offering!

Seriously, we are all about being good neighbors. We believe little bookstores make Minneapolis-St. Paul a better place.

Five reasons to shop with us online:

  • We have books available nowhere else.
  • Independent bookstores = Democracy cells.
  • We support Native artists.
  • We support Native gardeners and sustainable Indigenous harvesting.
  • Louise Erdrich will sign or personalize any of her books ordered through the bookstore.

Five reasons to visit us in person:

  • Susan White. If you are lucky enough to visit when Susan White is there, you will feel mysteriously better all day.
  • We are excited about our selection and love to talk about the books we choose. As we are small, we are invested in making every title count and we try to carry only the best.
  • Nobody else has a hand made wooden canoe hanging from the ceiling. (Made by Charlie Gibson)
  • Our bookstore has a tiny loft and a "hobbit hole" for children to play in and read while only feet away there is intellectual food for grown-ups -- books, books, books.
  • On the block: The Kenwood - for a world-class meal, snack, or drink; beArtrageous - creative wonderland for kids; Bockley Gallery - amazing artists, striking exhibitions; Framestyles - creative and unusual framing; Stephen Dean's Taylors - for all your tayloring needs; Kenwood Pet Clinic - keep your best friend happy and healthy!
  • Wait, there is one more reason. We love our bookstore. It feels good to be here.