After growing up in North Dakota, where her parents taught at a Bureau of Indian Affairs school, the part-Ojibwe and part-German Louise Erdrich (born today in 1954) became one of the first women admitted to Dartmouth College. Inspired to write by her parents—her father paid her a nickel a story—wrote numerous books (novels, poetry, nonfiction) that frequently explore Native American traditions and issues, first gaining critical acclaim with her novel Love Medicine (1984).
In 1999 she published The Birchbark House, the first in a series of young adult novels set in the Ojibwe community. Two years later, Erdrich opened Birchbark Books in her home city of Minneapolis. The store offers a wide selection of native artwork and features a wooden canoe hanging from the ceiling and an old church confessional that has been refashioned into a “Forgiveness Booth.”