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.
Drum from the Heart
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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.
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A BookRiot Don't-Miss 2022 Queer Graphic Novels & Memoirs o "Rabbit Chase is a welcome intersectional work for today's youth."--Traci Sorell, award-winning author of We Are Still Here! and At the Mountain's Base
Anishinaabe culture and storytelling meet Alice in Wonderland in this coming-of-age graphic novel that explores Indigenous and gender issues through a fresh yet familiar looking glass.
Aimée, a non-binary Anishinaabe middle-schooler, is on a class trip to offer gifts to Paayehnsag, the water spirits known to protect the land. While stories are told about the water spirits and the threat of the land being taken over for development, Aimée zones out, distracting themselves from the bullying and isolation they've experienced since expressing their non-binary identity. When Aimée accidentally wanders off, they are transported to an alternate dimension populated by traditional Anishinaabe figures in a story inspired by Alice in Wonderland.
To gain the way back home, Aimée is called on to help Trickster by hunting down dark water spirits with guidance from Paayehnsag. On their journey, Aimée faces off with the land-grabbing Queen and her robotic guards and fights the dark water spirits against increasingly stacked odds. Illustrated by KC Oster with a modern take on their own Ojibwe style and cultural representation, Rabbit Chase is a story of self-discovery, community, and finding one's place in the world.
"This Indigenous spin on Alice in Wonderland is a powerful story of identity and the rich gifts of community and culture." --Mary Beth Leatherdale, award-winning author and co-editor of #NotYourPrincess
The Summer of Bitter and Sweet
Young adult hardcover
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In this complex and emotionally resonant novel about a Métis girl living on the Canadian prairies, debut author Jen Ferguson serves up a powerful story about rage, secrets, and all the spectrums that make up a person--and the sweetness that can still live alongside the bitterest truth.
Lou has enough confusion in front of her this summer. She'll be working in her family's ice-cream shack with her newly ex-boyfriend--whose kisses never made her feel desire, only discomfort--and her former best friend, King, who is back in their Canadian prairie town after disappearing three years ago without a word.
But when she gets a letter from her biological father--a man she hoped would stay behind bars for the rest of his life--Lou immediately knows that she cannot meet him, no matter how much he insists.
While King's friendship makes Lou feel safer and warmer than she would have thought possible, when her family's business comes under threat, she soon realizes that she can't ignore her father forever.
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.
The Gift of the Little People
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I don't recall seeing books when I was a little boy. But the old people, they grew up listening to stories. And so, every night, when the old people were done their evening prayers, they would sit and they would tell us stories too.
At the time of the spring thaw, the Rocky Cree fill their canoes with furs, eager to trade with the new visitors in mistiwasahak (Hudson Bay). But not all of the new visitors are welcome.
When the canoes return home to the shores of the misinipi river, the Rocky Cree begin to collapse one by one, drenched in sweat and slowly slipping into delirium. Kakakiw struggles to help the sick as more and more people pass into the spirit world. Exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually, he seeks guidance through prayer.
Hope finally comes with a visitor in the night: one of the Little People, small beings who are just like us. If Kakakiw can journey to their home, he will be given the medicine his people need. All he has to do is paddle through a cliff of solid bedrock to get there.
To save his people from certain death, Kakakiw must overcome doubt to follow the traditional teachings of the Asiniskaw Ithiniwak and trust in the gift of the Little People.
In this illustrated short story for all ages, celebrated Rocky Cree storyteller William Dumas shares a teaching about hope in the face of adversity. This book is a companion story to The Six Seasons of the Asiniskaw Ithiniwak series.
Bear Bones and Feathers
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In this new edition of her powerful debut, Plains Cree writer and National Poet Laureate Louise B. Halfe - Sky Dancer reckons with personal history within cultural genocide. Employing Indigenous spirituality, black comedy, and the memories of her own childhood as healing arts, celebrated poet Louise B. Halfe - Sky Dancer finds an irrepressible source of strength and dignity in her people. Bear Bones and Feathers offers moving portraits of Halfe's grandmother (a medicine woman whose life straddled old and new worlds), her parents (both trapped in a cycle of jealousy and abuse), and the people whose pain she witnessed on the reserve and at residential school. Originally published by Coteau Books in 1994, Bear Bones and Feathers won the Milton Acorn People's Poet Award, and was a finalist for the Spirit of Saskatchewan Award, the Pat Lowther Award, and the Gerald Lampert Award.
Half-Bads in White Regalia
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*LONGLISTED FOR CANADA READS 2023*
A family tries to learn from the mistakes of past generations in this whirlwind memoir from a wholly original new voice.
The Caetanos move into a doomed house in the highway village of Happyland before an inevitable divorce pulls Cody's parents in separate directions. His mom, Mindimooye, having discovered her Anishinaabe birth family and Sixties Scoop origin story, embarks on a series of fraught relationships and fresh starts. His dad, O Touro, a Portuguese immigrant and drifter, falls back into "big do, little think" behaviour, despite his best intentions.
Left alone at the house in Happyland, Cody and his siblings must fend for themselves, even as the pipes burst and the lights go out. His protective big sister, Kris, finds inventive ways to put food on the table, and his stoic big brother, Julian, facilitates his regular escapes into the world of video games. As life yanks them from one temporary solution to the next, they steal moments of joy and resist buckling under "baddie" temptations aplenty.
Capturing the chaos and wonder of a precarious childhood, Cody Caetano delivers a fever dream coming-of-age garnished with a slang all his own. Half-Bads in White Regalia is an unforgettable debut that unspools a tangled family history with warmth, humour, and deep generosity.
Buffalo Is the New Buffalo
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Powerful stories of "Metis futurism" that envision a world without violence, capitalism, or colonization. "Education is the new buffalo" is a metaphor widely used among Indigenous peoples in Canada to signify the importance of education to their survival and ability to support themselves, as once Plains nations supported themselves as buffalo peoples. The assumption is that many of the pre-Contact ways of living are forever gone, so adaptation is necessary. But Chelsea Vowel asks, "Instead of accepting that the buffalo, and our ancestral ways, will never come back, what if we simply ensure that they do?" Inspired by classic and contemporary speculative fiction, Buffalo Is the New Buffalo explores science fiction tropes through a Metis lens: a Two-Spirit rougarou (shapeshifter) in the nineteenth century tries to solve a murder in her community and joins the nehiyaw-pwat (Iron Confederacy) in order to successfully stop Canadian colonial expansion into the West. A Metis man is gored by a radioactive bison, gaining super strength, but losing the ability to be remembered by anyone not related to him by blood. Nanites babble to babies in Cree, virtual reality teaches transformation, foxes take human form and wreak havoc on hearts, buffalo roam free, and beings grapple with the thorny problem of healing from colonialism. Indigenous futurisms seek to discover the impact of colonization, remove its psychological baggage, and recover ancestral traditions. These eight short stories of "Metis futurism" explore Indigenous existence and resistance through the specific lens of being Metis. Expansive and eye-opening, Buffalo Is the New Buffalo rewrites our shared history in provocative and exciting ways.
Standing in a River of Time
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Standing in a River of Time merges poetry and lyrical memoir on a journey exposing the intergenerational effects of colonization on a Métis family. Kirton does not shy away from hard realities, meeting them head on, but always treating them with respect and the love stemming from a lifetime of spiritual healing and decades of sobriety. This collection unravels painful memories and a mixed-blood woman's journey towards wholeness. The Ancestors whisper to Kirton throughout, asking her to heal, to bring them home, so that within these stories of redemption and loss the dead walk with us, their presence felt as the story unfurls in unexpected ways. Kirton does not offer false hope, nor does she push us towards answers we are not yet ready for. Instead, she gestures towards the many healing modalities she has explored as she discovers that the path to reconciliation is not only a long and winding road, but also that it begins with those closest to us.
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Taken from the Anishinaabe for "woman wearing red," Miskwagoode is an unsettling portrayal of unreconciled Indigenous experience under colonialism, past and present. Miskwagoode, the woman in the red dress, is Annharte, and she is Annharte's mother, who disappeared when the poet was a girl. Miskwagoode is Annharte's new book about her mother loss, her "mothermiss", about all the women "buried in common enough / cross-generational graves". Marked with her characteristic sharp eye and humour, and hard earned wisdom about the "ominous progress ahead", Annharte's fifth collection encompasses the poet's experiences as an Anishinaabe Elder, "witness not survivor", writing of the weight of a present and persisting colonialism. In her sly, cheeky riffs on life behind the "buckskin curtain" at the margins of settler society, Annharte tells us about granny circles, the horny old guys, and getting your hair done. But these poems about rez life and the community and belonging it offers are set against the background radiation of the poverty and the sicknesses, despair, violence, sexism, and sexual abuse, the legacies of unequal relations. Miskwagoode concludes with "Wabang," a suite of short poems comprising Annharte's own thumbnail transcontinental Indigenous mythology.
Return of the Trickster
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#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER
"The last book in Eden Robinson's lauded Trickster Trilogy is everything at once, in a good way. It's a page-turner dense with history and lore: gruesome . . . then suddenly hilarious." --Toronto Star
A deeply satisfying, explosive, surprising and satisfying resolution to the trilogy by one of Canada's most gifted and beloved storytellers.
All Jared Martin had ever wanted was to be normal, which was already hard enough when he had to cope with Maggie, his hard-partying, gun-toting, literal witch of a mother, Indigenous teen life and his own addictions. When he wakes up naked, dangerously dehydrated and confused in the basement of his mom's old house in Kitimat, some of the people he loves just think he fell off the wagon after a tough year of sobriety. The truth for Jared is so much worse.
He finally knows for sure that he is the only one of his bio dad Wee'git's 535 children who is a Trickster too, a shapeshifter with a free pass to other dimensions. While his ex is happy he's a magical being, everyone else is upset or in mortal danger because he has accidentally unleashed dark forces--the scariest of which is his Aunt Georgina, a maniacal ogress hungry for his power, who has sent her posse of flesh-eating coy-wolves to track him down.
Soon Jared is at the centre of an all-out war--a horrifying place to be for the universe's sweetest Trickster, whose first instinct is not mischief and mind games but to make the world a kinder, safer, place.
Daughters of the Deer
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In this haunting and groundbreaking historical novel, Danielle Daniel imagines the lives of women in the Algonquin territories of the 1600s, a story inspired by her family's ancestral link to a young girl who was murdered by French settlers.
1657. Marie, a gifted healer of the Deer Clan, does not want to marry the green-eyed soldier from France who has asked for her hand. But her people are threatened by disease and starvation and need help against the Iroquois and their English allies if they are to survive. When her chief begs her to accept the white man's proposal, she cannot refuse him, and sheds her deerskin tunic for a borrowed blue wedding dress to become Pierre's bride.
1675. Jeanne, Marie's oldest child, is seventeen, neither white nor Algonquin, caught between worlds. Caught by her own desires, too. Her heart belongs to a girl named Josephine, but soon her father will have to find her a husband or be forced to pay a hefty fine to the French crown. Among her mother's people, Jeanne would have been considered blessed, her two-spirited nature a sign of special wisdom. To the settlers of New France, and even to her own father, Jeanne is unnatural, sinful--a woman to be shunned, beaten, and much worse.
With the poignant, unforgettable story of Marie and Jeanne, Danielle Daniel reaches back through the centuries to touch the very origin of the long history of violence against Indigenous women and the deliberate, equally violent disruption of First Nations cultures.
My Privilege, My Responsibility
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In September 2015, Sheila North was declared the Grand Chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), the first woman elected to the position. Known as a "bridge builder", North is a member of Bunibonibee Cree Nation. North's work in advocacy journalism, communications, and economic development harnessed her passion for drawing focus to systemic racism faced by Indigenous women and girls. She is the creator of the widely used hashtag #MMIW. In her memoir, Sheila North shares the stories of the events that shaped her, and the violence that nearly stood in the way of her achieving her dreams. Through perseverance and resilience, she not only survived, she flourished.
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In this uplifting, contemporary Native American story, River is recovering from illness and can't dance at the powwow this year. Will she ever dance again?
River wants so badly to dance at powwow day as she does every year. In this uplifting and contemporary picture book perfect for beginning readers, follow River's journey from feeling isolated after an illness to learning the healing power of community.
Additional information explains the history and functions of powwows, which are commonplace across the United States and Canada and are open to both Native Americans and non-Native visitors. Author Traci Sorell is a member of the Cherokee Nation, and illustrator Madelyn Goodnight is a member of the Chickasaw Nation.
Di-bayn-di-zi-win (To Own Ourselves)
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A collaboration exploring the importance of the Ojibway-Anishinabe worldview, use of ceremony, and language in living a good life, attaining true reconciliation, and resisting the notions of indigenization and colonialization inherent in Western institutions.
Indigenization within the academy and the idea of truth and reconciliation within Canada have been seen as the remedy to correct the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Canadian society. While honourable, these actions are difficult to achieve given the Western nature of institutions in Canada and the collective memory of its citizens, and the burden of proof has always been the responsibility of Anishinabeg.
Authors Makwa Ogimaa (Jerry Fontaine) and Ka-pi-ta-aht (Don McCaskill) tell their di-bah-ji-mo-wi-nan (Stories of personal experience) to provide insight into the cultural, political, social, and academic events of the past fifty years of Ojibway-Anishinabe resistance in Canada. They suggest that Ojibway-Anishinabe i-zhi-chi-gay-win zhigo kayn-dah-so-win (Ways of doing and knowing) can provide an alternative way of living and thriving in the world. This distinctive worldview -- as well as Ojibway-Anishinabe values, language, and ceremonial practices -- can provide an alternative to Western political and academic institutions and peel away the layers of colonialism, violence, and injustice, speaking truth and leading to true reconciliation.
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From the #1 bestselling author of Indians on Vacation, Sufferance and 77 Fragments of a Familiar Ruin
For the first time since the pandemic, Thumps DreadfulWater has finally found some peace in small-town Chinook. Sure, his beloved cat is still missing and his relationship with Claire is more than uncertain, but at least he can relax in the comfort of his home. And now that local businesses are opening their doors again, everything can go back to the way it was.
But when Thumps discovers a body at the bottom of a treacherous canyon, he becomes entangled once again in an inexplicable mystery. And as more puzzling details come to the surface, Thumps begins to question whom he can truly trust--especially when an unexpected visitor walks back into his life.
In the follow-up to Obsidian, a Globe and Mail Favourite of 2020, Thumps DreadfulWater returns once more with wit and wry humour to solve a mystery that only Thomas King could create.