Read the powerful stories and rich history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and North America with the books listed below.
There are of course hundreds, if not thousands of titles that we could include in this list, however we wanted to focus primarily on recent titles as well as those that have a strong legacy.
We are also continually updating this list as we discover new books by or about Indigenous Peoples, and if you feel that we should include a particular title or author we encourage you to contact us with more information.
- by Leona Prince
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Rooted in Indigenous teachings, this stunning picture book encourages readers of all ages to consider the ways in which they live in connection to the world around them and to think deeply about their behaviors. Addressing environmental issues, animal welfare, self-esteem and self-respect, and the importance of community, the authors deliver a poignant and universal message in an accessible way: Be a good ancestor to the world around you. Thought-provoking stanzas offer a call to action for each one of us to consider how we affect future generations. Every decision we make ripples out, and we can affect the world around us by thinking deeply about those decisions.
- by C.thomas Shay
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In Under Prairie Skies, C. Thomas Shay asks and answers the question, What role did plants play in the lives of early inhabitants of the northern Great Plains? Since humans arrived at the end of the Ice Age, plants played important roles as Native peoples learned which were valuable foods, which held medicinal value, and which were best for crafts.
Incorporating Native voices, ethnobotanical studies, personal stories, and research techniques, Under Prairie Skies shows how, since the end of the Ice Age, plants have held a central place in the lives of Native peoples. Eventually some groups cultivated seed-bearing annuals and, later, fields of maize and other crops. Throughout history, their lives became linked with the land, both materially and spiritually.
- by Thomas King
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A joyful picture book about confidence featuring a little girl making her mark on the world, from acclaimed author Thomas King, and for fans of Ladybug Girl.
Lala wakes up one morning and decides that she owns the world. Quick as a fox, she bounds to her box of treasures and finds her shiny red dots -- to mark what is hers, because there's nothing that's not!
Lala's bear gets a dot, as does her blankie, boots, and even the markers she uses to make scrawls on her walls. When she finishes labeling everything in her room and goes to label her dad-daddy's socks, Lala realizes that she's out of dots! But when Lala discovers that she can simply create her own red dots, will anything be safe from Lala?
Join rambunctious Lala on her quest to own the world in this joyful picture book that celebrates confidence and positive thinking.
- by Theodore Fontaine
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A new commemorative edition of Theodore Fontaine's powerful, groundbreaking memoir of survival and healing after years of residential school abuse.
Originally published in 2010, Broken Circle: The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools chronicles the impact of Theodore Fontaine's harrowing experiences at Fort Alexander and Assiniboia Indian Residential Schools, including psychological, emotional, and sexual abuse; disconnection from his language and culture; and the loss of his family and community. Told as remembrances infused with insights gained through his long healing process, Fontaine goes beyond the details of the abuse that he suffered to relate a unique understanding of why most residential school survivors have post-traumatic stress disorders and why succeeding generations of Indigenous children suffer from this dark chapter in history. With a new foreword by Andrew Woolford, professor of sociology and criminology at the University of Manitoba, this commemorative edition will continue to serve as a powerful testament to survival, self-discovery, and healing.
- by Theresa Meuse
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A modern story of traditional Indigenous knowledge that follows a young boy and his Auntie as they gather and braid sweetgrass, one of the four sacred medicines. It's early July, and for Matthew and his Auntie that means one thing: time to go sweetgrass picking. This year, Matthew's younger cousin Warren is coming along, and it will be his first time visiting the shoreline where the sweetgrass grows. With Auntie's traditional Mi'kmaw knowledge and Matthew's gentle guidance, Warren learns about the many uses for sweetgrass--as traditional medicine, a sacred offering, a smudging ingredient--and the importance of not picking more than he needs. Once the trio is back at Auntie's house, she shows the boys how to clean and braid the grass. From the duo behind the bestsellers The Gathering and The Sharing Circle, this heartfelt story about the gifts we receive from Mother Earth and how to gather them respectfully offers thoughtful insight into a treasured Mi'kmaw tradition. Sweetgrass grows in wet meadows, low prairies, and the edges of sloughs and marshes . It grows from Labrador to Alaska, south to New Jersey, Indiana, Iowa, New Mexico, and Arizona. Widely used by North American indigenous peoples from many different Nations, it is also considered one of the "four sacred medicines" by many Plains Indians.
- by Andrew S. Sniderman
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A heart-rending true story about racism and reconciliation
Divided by a beautiful valley and 150 years of racism, the town of Rossburn and the Waywayseecappo Indian reserve have been neighbours nearly as long as Canada has been a country. Their story reflects much of what has gone wrong in relations between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians. It also offers, in the end, an uncommon measure of hope.
Valley of the Birdtail is about how two communities became separate and unequal--and what it means for the rest of us. In Rossburn, once settled by Ukrainian immigrants who fled poverty and persecution, family income is near the national average and more than a third of adults have graduated from university. In Waywayseecappo, the average family lives below the national poverty line and less than a third of adults have graduated from high school, with many haunted by their time in residential schools.
This book follows multiple generations of two families, one white and one Indigenous, and weaves their lives into the larger story of Canada. It is a story of villains and heroes, irony and idealism, racism and reconciliation. Valley of the Birdtail has the ambition to change the way we think about our past and show a path to a better future.
- by J. Wilson-raybould
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There is one question Canadians have asked Jody Wilson-Raybould more than any other: What can I do to help advance reconciliation? It is clear that people from all over the country want to take concrete and tangible action that will make real change. We just need to know how to get started. This book provides that next step. For Wilson-Raybould, what individuals and organizations need to do to advance true reconciliation is self-evident, accessible, and achievable. True Reconciliation is broken down into three core practices--Learn, Understand, and Act--that can be applied by individuals, communities, organizations, and governments.
The practices are based not only on the historical and contemporary experience of Indigenous peoples in their relentless efforts to effect transformative change and decolonization, but also on the deep understanding and expertise about what has been effective in the past, what we are doing right, and wrong, today, and what our collective future requires. Fundamental to a shared way of thinking is an understanding of the Indigenous experience throughout the story of Canada. In a manner that reflects how work is done in the Big House, True Reconciliation features an "oral" history of these lands, told through Indigenous and non-Indigenous voices from our past and present.
The ultimate and attainable goal of True Reconciliation is to break down the silos we've created that prevent meaningful change, to be empowered to increasingly act as "inbetweeners," and to take full advantage of this moment in our history to positively transform the country into a place we can all be proud of.
- by Jesse Wente
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WINNER of the 2022 Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Non-Fiction
A GLOBE AND MAIL BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
"Unreconciled is one hell of a good book. Jesse Wente's narrative moves effortlessly from the personal to the historical to the contemporary. Very powerful, and a joy to read."
--Thomas King, author of The Inconvenient Indian and Sufferance
A prominent Indigenous voice uncovers the lies and myths that affect relations between white and Indigenous peoples and the power of narrative to emphasize truth over comfort.
Part memoir and part manifesto, Unreconciled is a stirring call to arms to put truth over the flawed concept of reconciliation, and to build a new, respectful relationship between the nation of Canada and Indigenous peoples.
Jesse Wente remembers the exact moment he realized that he was a certain kind of Indian--a stereotypical cartoon Indian. He was playing softball as a child when the opposing team began to war-whoop when he was at bat. It was just one of many incidents that formed Wente's understanding of what it means to be a modern Indigenous person in a society still overwhelmingly colonial in its attitudes and institutions.
As the child of an American father and an Anishinaabe mother, Wente grew up in Toronto with frequent visits to the reserve where his maternal relations lived. By exploring his family's history, including his grandmother's experience in residential school, and citing his own frequent incidents of racial profiling by police who'd stop him on the streets, Wente unpacks the discrepancies between his personal identity and how non-Indigenous people view him.
Wente analyzes and gives voice to the differences between Hollywood portrayals of Indigenous peoples and lived culture. Through the lens of art, pop culture, and personal stories, and with disarming humour, he links his love of baseball and movies to such issues as cultural appropriation, Indigenous representation and identity, and Indigenous narrative sovereignty. Indeed, he argues that storytelling in all its forms is one of Indigenous peoples' best weapons in the fight to reclaim their rightful place.
Wente explores and exposes the lies that Canada tells itself, unravels "the two founding nations" myth, and insists that the notion of "reconciliation" is not a realistic path forward. Peace between First Nations and the state of Canada can't be recovered through reconciliation--because no such relationship ever existed.
- by David A. Robertson
Young adult softcover
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After finding out Mihko reinstated the Reckoner Initiative in Breakdown, Cole and Eva confronted Mihko head-on. But when Eva stumbles across a secret laboratory, she finds her worst nightmares come to life. After a vicious battle with Mihko's newest test subject leaves Cole close to death, Eva is forced to continue their investigation without him. With Brady missing and Cole in recovery, Eva is on her own.
What new terrors has Mihko created? Can they be stopped? And can Eva find Brady before it's too late?
- by David A. Robertson
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Inspired by true events, this story of strength, family, and culture shares the awe-inspiring resilience of Elder Betty Ross.
Abandoned as a young child, Betsy is adopted into a loving family. A few short years later, at the age of 8, everything changes. Betsy is taken away to a residential school. There she is forced to endure abuse and indignity, but Betsy recalls the words her father spoke to her at Sugar Falls--words that give her the resilience, strength, and determination to survive.
Sugar Falls is based on the true story of Betty Ross, Elder from Cross Lake First Nation. We wish to acknowledge, with the utmost gratitude, Betty's generosity in sharing her story. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Sugar Falls goes to support the bursary program for The Helen Betty Osborne Memorial Foundation.
This 10th-anniversary edition brings David A. Robertson's national bestseller to life in full colour, with a foreword by The Hon. Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and a touching afterword from Elder Betty Ross herself.
- by David A. Robertson
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In this second book in the Narnia-inspired Indigenous middle-grade fantasy series, Eli and Morgan journey once more to Misewa, travelling back in time.
Back at home after their first adventure in the Barren Grounds, Eli and Morgan each struggle with personal issues: Eli is being bullied at school, and tries to hide it from Morgan, while Morgan has to make an important decision about her birth mother. They turn to the place where they know they can learn the most, and make the journey to Misewa to visit their animal friends. This time they travel back in time and meet a young fisher that might just be their lost friend. But they discover that the village is once again in peril, and they must dig deep within themselves to find the strength to protect their beloved friends. Can they carry this strength back home to face their own challenges?
- by Eldon Yellowhorn
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From healing to astronomy to our connection to the natural world, the lessons from Indigenous knowledge inform our learning and practices today. How do knowledge systems get passed down over generations? Through the knowledge inherited from their Elders and ancestors, Indigenous Peoples throughout North America have observed, practiced, experimented, and interacted with plants, animals, the sky, and the waters over millennia. Knowledge keepers have shared their wisdom with younger people through oral history, stories, ceremonies, and records that took many forms. In Sky Wolf's Call, award-winning author team of Eldon Yellowhorn and Kathy Lowinger reveal how Indigenous knowledge comes from centuries of practices, experiences, and ideas gathered by people who have a long history with the natural world. Indigenous knowledge is explored through the use of fire and water, the acquisition of food, the study of astronomy, and healing practices. *A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
- by Buffy Saint-marie
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"Beautiful, poignant and poetic. This story will weave its way into the hearts and minds of readers for generations."
--Monique Gray Smith, author of My Heart Fills With Happiness
From beloved Indigenous icon Buffy Sainte-Marie comes a chapter book inspired by oral histories and traditions. On a prairie reserve, Tâpwê receives a mysterious gift from Kokhom (grandma)--and finds himself on an unforgettable adventure.
Tâpwê can't wait to spend a week with his cousins on the other side of the Cree reserve--especially since Kokhom, his grandma, has given him the most amazing gift: a Magic Hat with bluebirds and grass snakes that come to life! Tâpwê is so excited that he soon forgets Kokhom's advice: Watch out for tricksters!
Tâpwê's adventure is everything he imagined. He meets his cousins, takes part in a powwow, and sleeps in a tipi. But soon he's reminded of Kokhom's words. Is his new friend Wâpos leading him astray with mischief?
Tâpwê and the Magic Hat draws on a rich Indigenous tradition of storytelling and features:
A memorable cast of characters from both imagination and legend. A glossary and pronunciation guide of Cree words used in the book. A note to parents and teachers from Buffy Sainte-Marie about trickster stories. An important message for young readers about being yourself, and learning to dance to the beat of your own heart.Features black and white illustrations throughout.
- by Dawn Quigley
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Filled with lots of glitter, raised pinkies, and humorous misunderstandings, this second book in the Jo Jo Makoons series--written by Dawn Quigley and illustrated by Tara Audibert--is filled with the joy of a young Ojibwe girl discovering her very own special shine from the inside out.
First grader Jo Jo Makoons knows how to do a lot of things, like how to play jump rope, how to hide her peas in her milk, and how to be helpful in her classroom.
But there's one thing Jo Jo doesn't know how to do: be fancy. She has a lot to learn before her Aunt Annie's wedding!
Favorite purple unicorn notebook in hand, Jo Jo starts exploring her Ojibwe community to find ways to be fancy.
The Heartdrum imprint centers a wide range of intertribal voices, visions, and stories while welcoming all young readers, with an emphasis on the present and future of Indian Country and on the strength of young Native heroes. In partnership with We Need Diverse Books.
- by Ren Louie
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When he is gifted a handmade drum by his mother, Ren learns the teachings of the drum that she also passes down to him. Ren discovers that through this special drum, he is able to connect to his culture and find a confidence in his voice to joyfully share in singing the traditional songs of his Nuu-chah-nulth Nation.