Skip to main content

One Book One Northwestern

2024-25 One Book Selection

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

One Book One Northwestern is pleased to announce that the One Book selection for 2024-25 is The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich. Based on the extraordinary life of National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich’s grandfather who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native dispossession from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, D.C., this powerful novel explores themes of love and death with lightness and gravity and unfolds with the elegant prose, sly humor, and depth of feeling of a master craftsman.

Erdrich will be on the Evanston campus Oct.15, 2024 in conversation with One Book faculty chairs Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy and Megan Bang


Message from Faculty Co-Chairs

American Indian peoples have often been at the mercy of the federal government because of their unique relationship to the government and to the nation that grew up around them. In The Night Watchman, a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Louise Erdrich addresses the era of a Cold War policy called termination. Drawing on the protagonist of Thomas Wazhashk, a tribal council member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa tribe, Erdrich demonstrates the power of the federal government to write a narrative of Indigenous peoples rooted in a profound lack of understanding of their daily lives, their brilliance, and their commitments to their larger communities. The book raises questions about the commitments of the U.S. government to tribal peoples whose lands it took in trades of promises and commitments and the government's refusal to honor treaties, which the U.S. Supreme Court has called "the laws of the land."

The book captures not only demonstrates Thomas' commitments, but also offers a glimpse of the difficulties for Native peoples in urban areas. The book captures the complexities of Indigenous peoples moving between reservation lands and urban areas (an important theme of migrations and migration stories), but also the dangers that await American Indian women and girls. It is a time the foreshadows what has emerged as an important movement of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. In some ways, it is an antecedent of the migrations that accompanied boarding schools in the previous century.

The new is old and the old is new is demonstrated in this important novel. It offers a glimpse of the intricacies of the lives of Native peoples, offers some important insights into urban Indigenous communities (like Chicago), and the power of harnessing collective power to fight against injustice. This is an important book to help us think deeply about migrations, origins, politics, power, resistance, and the future of democracy.


Blog Articles

Blog Articles

Read the latest blog articles written by our student fellows!

Upcoming Events

Stay tuned for upcoming events with One Book One Northwestern!


Nancy M. Cunniff


During her tenure, Nancy Cunniff has elevated the "One Book" brand to become a signature University program involving the entire campus. Moving beyond the first year students, she has expanded the reach of the program to the Chicago campus and the Graduate Schools. Under her stewardship we have explored global health, Chicago, bioethics, climate change, women's rights, the history of First Nations people in North America, democracy, racial stereotyping, predictions, the death penalty, and hunger. Through these compelling works we are challenged to look deeper into all sides of an issue. Through her energy and expanded connections, One Book has become One Community.

Meet Nancy M. Cunniff
Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy


Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy, a citizen of the Lumbee tribe, is dean of Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy and the Carlos Montezuma Professor. A member of the National Academy of Education and a fellow of the American Educational Research Association, Brayboy’s research focuses on intersecting knowledge systems that illuminate the ways that institutional structures both hinder and enable the success of underserved students, staff, and faculty. An anthropologist by training, Brayboy is also concerned about the ways that culture and cultural practices can serve to support Indigenous students and communities.


Megan Bang


Megan Bang, (Ojibwe and Italian descent) is a professor of learning sciences and director of Northwestern’s Center for Native American and Indigenous Research. Bang, who works closely with Indigenous communities, broadly studies the dynamics of culture, learning, and development. Her  specific focus explores the complexities of navigating multiple-meaning systems in creating and implementing more effective and just learning environments in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics education.


Cindy Lima


Cindy Lima is a PhD candidate in the History Department at Northwestern. As a Graduate Teaching Assistant, Cindy had the wonderful opportunity of working with various members of the Northwestern community. Those inspiring and joyful experiences are the reason she is excited to be a part of One Book One Northwestern community.

Student Fellows and Ambassadors

Our fellows and ambassadors are integral to the running of the One Book program. Fellows are paid to help run the office on a weekly basis by working on the newsletter, website, social media and marketing, and ambassadors assist with events throughout the academic year as needed. All participating students contribute to the blog and are readers of several books for the selection of next year's common read program.

Meet our Student Fellows

Meet our Student Ambassadors

Student Ambassador Group Photo