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Community Reads

Community Reads are partnerships between Eccles Health Sciences Library and the Office of Health Equity. Diversity & Inclusion (UHealth OHEDI).

Nuances of American Indian Health: Heart Berries

Registration is Required to access the Zoom link.

University of Utah Land Acknowledgement

SCHEDULE - Tuesdays, 12:00 - 1:00 pm MDT, June 15 - July 20, 2021

June 15 @ 12:00 – 1:00 pm MT: Franci Taylor, Chapters 1-2 (14 pgs)

June 22 @ 12:00 – 1:00 pm MT: Samantha Eldridge, Chapter 3 (33 pgs)

June 29 @ 12:00 – 1:00 pm MT: Jenna Murray, Chapters 4-5 (32 pgs)

July 6 @ 12:00 – 1:00 pm MT: Donna Eldridge, Chapters 6-7 (19 pgs)

July 13 @ 12:00 – 1:00 pm MT: Harold "Chuck" Foster, Chapters 8-9 (16 pgs)

July 20 @ 12:00 – 1:00 pm MT: Heather Tanana, Chapters 10-11 (10 pgs)


Co-Sponsored by:  Office of Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (School of Medicine), American Indian Resource Center (AIRC), Native American Research Internship (NARI), Office of Health Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (UHealth), and Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library (EHSL).

The Book

About the Author

Terese Marie Mailhot                            Author Website

"Terese Mailhot is from Seabird Island Band. Her work has appeared in Guernica, The Guardian, Mother Jones, Medium, Al Jazeera, the Los Angeles Times, and "Best American Essays." She is the New York Times bestselling author of "Heart Berries: A Memoir." Her book was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for English-Language Nonfiction, and was selected by Emma Watson as the Our Shared Shelf Book Club Pick for March/April 2018. Her book was also the January 2020 pick for Now Read This, a book club from PBS Newshour and The New York Times. Heart Berries was also listed as an NPR Best Book of the Year, a Library Journal Best Book of the Year, a New York Public Library Best Book of the Year, a Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year, and was one of Harper's Bazaar's Best Books of 2018. She is the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award, and she is also the recipient of the Spalding Prize for the Promotion of Peace and Justice in Literature. She teaches creative writing at Purdue University and VCFA. "  -- Author Website

"Terese Marie Mailhot graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts with an M.F.A. in fiction.  Mailhot's work has appeared in The Rumpus, the Los Angeles Times, Carve Magazine, The Offing, The Toast, Yellow Medicine Review, and elsewhere.  The recipient of several fellowships - SWAIA Discovery Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, Writing by Writers Fellowship, and the Elk Writer's Workshop Fellowship - she was named the Tecumseh Postdoctoral Fellow at Perdue University and resides in West Lafayette, Indiana."  -- Counterpoint Press

About the Facilitators

Franci Lynne Taylor (Choctaw, she/her), Director, American Indian Resource Center (AIRC), University of Utah

Franci Lynne Taylor, mother of two, grandmother of five, and auntie to many, earned a B.F.A. and a B.S. in Anthropology/Sociology at Montana State University. She earned her Ph.D. in American Indian Studies through the Faculty of Archaeology program at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. She has taught American Indian Studies and Culture for over 25 years locally, nationally, and internationally at all educational levels. She has worked on creating American Indian curriculum for public schools. At present she is a cross-cultural consultant for UHealth and the Executive Director of the American Indian Resource Center at University of Utah. She specializes in traditional Indigenous knowledge and ethnobotany and is a participating member of the Indigenous People’s working group at the United Nations. She has taught classes on interactions between colonialism and indigenous peoples at the University of Leiden, The Nederlands, and community-based research in American Indian communities. She sits on several national Indian Education boards. Franci is a member of the Choctaw Tribe and is a traditional dancer and craft worker. 

Samantha Eldridge, MA (Diné), Executive Assistant, Student Development and Inclusion, University of Utah

Samantha Eldridge is Diné, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. Samantha holds a MA in Public Administration from the University of Utah. After spending several years working as a senior advisor to the National Education Association in Washington, D.C. and as a policy analyst for the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President, Samantha returned to Salt Lake City to pursue a PhD in political science. 

Samantha previously served as a Board of Director for Racially Just Utah and the National Indian Education Association. She is a past recipient of the University of Utah Equity and Diversity Award, presented on the basis of excellence in fostering leadership and continuing commitment to enhance diversity.

Jenna Murray, MPH (Eastern Shoshone), NIDA Native American Program Research Fellow, Epidemiology Research Branch (ERB), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Jenna Murray is part of the Eastern Shoshone tribe and completed two summers with the Native American Research Internship (2015 & 2016) where she researched chronic kidney disease with Dr. Kalani Raphael. Jenna completed her bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology from Colorado College in 2017 and a Master of Public Health (MPH) from Dartmouth College in 2021. She currently works for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with the Native American Program in the Epidemiology Research Branch. Jenna is currently applying for MD/PhD programs and is interested in practicing psychiatry and conducting addiction research, specifically community-based participatory research in indigenous communities. 

Donna R. Eldridge, MSW (Diné), Program Manager, Office of Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, School of Medicine, University of Utah

Donna Eldridge is a member of the Navajo Nation. Donna was raised on the Navajo reservation in Shiprock, New Mexico. She earned a Master Degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. She is the Program Manager for the Office of Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Donna works with underserved and tribal communities throughout the state of Utah to inspire student learning, create an interest in science, and expose students to medicine and related fields to ultimately create a gateway to higher education. Donna centers her work around championing social justice issues and advocating for underrepresented communities. She was recently recognized by former Governor Gary Herbert for her work on “Operation Firewood” in assisting Native communities with essential supplies during the pandemic. She was also awarded the Inclusive Excellence Award for her leadership in creating STEM programs that support Native American students.

Harold "Chuck" Foster, PhD (Diné), American Indian Education Specialist, Title VI Programs, Utah State Board of Education

Dr. Chuck Foster was born and raised on the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona. He has 44 years of education experience, both as a teacher and a school administrator. He is also former collegiate athlete and a former high school cross-country and track & field coach.

He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona and Doctorate Degree from Brigham Young University. His doctoral dissertation entitled “The Learning Style Differences of Navajo and Caucasian Students on and near the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona and New Mexico” is used as a foundational study among many American Indian Educators. Most of his professional work is associated with education to infuse Native language and culture into the context of teaching and learning and the development of American Indian curriculum. He presently serves as the American Indian Education Specialist, Title VI Program, at the Utah State Board of Education.

He has four adult children and four grandchildren. He and his wife Marie of 45 years reside in Orem, Utah. Chuck’s father is also a Navajo Code Talker where most of his inspiration and desire originated to become an educator.

Heather Tanana, JD, MPH, (Diné), Assistant Professor (Research) & Wallace Stegner Center Fellow, S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah

Heather Tanana is an Assistant Professor (Research) & Wallace Stegner Center Fellow at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. Heather is experienced in state, federal, and tribal courts and clerked at the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. Heather is also Associate Faculty at the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, where she teaches Institute courses and collaborates on health policy related work. Heather’s research interests include exploring the overlay between environmental and health policy, promoting better practices in Indian child welfare, and criminal justice in Indian Country. She also chairs the Board of Directors of the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake.

Table of Contents / Chapter Summaries

Chapter Descriptions reprinted below from:  Heart Berries Summary & Study Guide.  BookRags, 2021.

Chapter 1, Indian Condition (pgs 3-7) -  6 pgs - "Terese writes that her story has been maltreated and that, over time, she has learned to speak it for herself. She writes about her mother, grandmother, and some of her early childhood experiences before writing that she got married as a teenager in the hope of finding a safe home. However, further tragedy followed. Her mother died, she got divorced, and her husband got full custody of their eldest son. With their infant second son, who her ex-husband showed no interest in, Terese packed up and moved away."

Chapter 2, Heart Berries (pgs 8-14) -  8 pgs - "Terese then writes about the early days of her relationship with a man named Casey who left his girlfriend for her. Elements of their relationship are unhappy and Terese feels she lacks autonomy and agency. However, she does not want to be without him. At the same time, she knows that she is not well."

Chapters 3, Indian Sick (pgs 15-47) -  33 pgs - "Terese writes to Casey from a behavioral health service building where she has committed herself for treatment. Their relationship has ended but she still wants him. She reflects on other aspects of their life together and his inability to understand and accept her for who she is. In group therapy, she meditates on the idea of self-esteem and remembers her mother, the poverty of her childhood, and the gravity of being an Indian woman. She tells a story from her childhood in which her mother collaborated with Paul Simon on the development of a new musical. Terese says that her mother’s story was lost in the process and that her character was represented on stage stereotypically. Before being released from treatment, Terese is diagnosed with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, an eating disorder, and bipolar II."

Chapter 4, In a Pecan Field (pgs 49-67) -  19 pgs - "Terese and Casey rekindle their sexual relationship but he insists that they cannot be in an emotional or romantic relationship of any kind. Terese struggles to deal with his friendships with other women and continues to see a therapist outside of the institution while also applying and getting accepted to an M.F.A. program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Finally, she gives Casey an ultimatum and they begin their romantic relationship again. Their relationship is highly tumultuous and it is not long before Terese gets pregnant."

Chapter 5, Your Black Eye and My Birth (pgs 68-80) -  13 pgs - "Pregnancy is extremely challenging to Terese’s mental health because she must go off her medication for the sake of the baby’s health. She and Casey fight, she becomes violent, is suicidal, and considers getting an abortion. However, they make it through and their child is born."

Chapter 6, I Know I'll Go (pgs 81-87) -  7 pgs - "Terese then segues into a discussion of her father who left when she was young. He was abusive, alcoholic, and an alleged sex offender. Terese writes about reconnecting briefly with her father as an adult, before he died, and attempts to see him as a man rather than as a monster."

Chapter 7, Little Mountain Woman (pgs 88-99) -  12 pgs - "She then writes about feeling “like a squaw” and this aspect of her relationship to her cultural identity. In alternating paragraphs, she writes about her marriage to her first husband and the continuing evolution of her relationship with Casey which results in their marriage."

Chapter 8, The Leaving Deficit (pgs 100-106) -  7 pgs - In the next chapter, Terese considers leaving her new husband and writes about the reasons and motivations for why so many young native women, including herself, leave home.

Chapters 9, Thunder Being Honey Bear (pgs 107-114) -  8 pgs - "Suddenly, while in a coffee shop one day, Terese is faced with a repressed memory in which her father sexually abused her when she was five or six. She now has to figure out how to deal with and process this new trauma."

Chapter 10, Indian Condition (pgs 115-119) -  5 pgs - "Time passes and Terese gets her M.F.A degree. Amid this success, she reflects more on the themes of shame, cultural identity, and inherited trauma. She meditates on the nature of her sorrow and pain and feels that she has finally harnessed it to a certain degree. It appears as though both Terese’s mental health and her relationship with Casey have improved overall since their marriage and her graduation."

Chapters 11, Better Parts (pgs 120-124) -  5 pgs - "In the short final chapter, Terese addresses her dead mother in an attempt to communicate more effectively with her through symbolic language. She asks her mother several questions about life and death before choosing to leave her mother’s body in the earth."

Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions for Heart Berries. (Courtney Vinopal)  January 6, 2020.   PBS NewsHour

PBS Book Companion: Heart Berries

Heart Berry Quotes

Summaries and Study Guides

Book Reviews

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot review – a raw, rich indigenous memoir.  (Diana Evans)  August 4, 2018.   The Guardian.

January’s Book Club Pick: ‘Heart Berries’ Shatters a Pattern of Silence.  (Parul Sehgal)  January 30, 2018.   New York Times.

Mailhot, Terese Marie: HEART BERRIESDecember 1, 2017.  Kirkus Reviews.  

Review: 'Heart Berries' -- Terese Marie Mailhot's searing memoir of Native American experience. (Kathleen Rooney)  February 2, 2018.  The Chicago Tribune.

Interviews, Readings, and Presentations

Terese Marie Mailhot on why photos of her late relatives are symbols of resilience | 2:04 VIDEO | December 11, 2020 | Mementos 2020.

Virtual Craft Talk with Visiting Writer Terese Mailhot, Nov 2020 (without Q&A) | 38:01 VIDEO | November 15, 2020 | Vermont Studio Center.

Virtual Visiting Writer Reading with Terese Mailhot | 54:56 VIDEO | November 13, 2020 | Vermont Studio Center.

Author Voices: Terese Marie Mailhot (Heart Berries) (Sara Ortiz)| 1:01 VIDEO | October 9, 2020 | KCLS Author Voices, King County Library System.

Blue Met Talks : Des Femmes qui changent le Monde - Terese Marie Mailhot | 3:38 VIDEO | June 18, 2019 | BlueMetBleu.

Finding my way without role models gave me room to be | 2:40 VIDEO | July 23, 2018 | PBS NewsHour.

Terese Marie Mailhot - Sharing an Indigenous Voice in “Heart Berries” (Trevor Noah) | 9:02 VIDEO | July 4, 2018 | The Daily Show.

Writer Terese Marie Mailhot's journey from devastation to voice of a generation.  (Marsha Lederman) May 4, 2018 | The Globe and Mail.

Terese Marie Mailhot Reads Excerpts from Heart Berries | 9:22 VIDEO | March 26, 2018 | Counterpoint Press.

In 'Heart Berries,' An Indigenous Woman's Chaotic Coming-Of-Age  (Lulu Garcia-Navarro) | 6:16 AUDIO | February 11, 2018 | NPR Author Interview. 

Additional Resources

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW)

Selected Bibliography - Books available at Libraries at the University of Utah