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 David Maraniss
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A riveting new biography of America's greatest all-around athlete by the bestselling author of the classic biography When Pride Still Mattered.
Jim Thorpe rose to world fame as a mythic talent who excelled at every sport. He won gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, was an All-American football player at the Carlisle Indian School, the star of the first class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and played major league baseball for John McGraw's New York Giants. Even in a golden age of sports celebrities, he was one of a kind.
But despite his colossal skills, Thorpe's life was a struggle against the odds. As a member of the Sac and Fox Nation, he encountered duplicitous authorities who turned away from him when their reputations were at risk. At Carlisle, he dealt with the racist assimilationist philosophy "Kill the Indian, Save the Man." His gold medals were unfairly rescinded because he had played minor league baseball. His later life was troubled by alcohol, broken marriages, and financial distress. He roamed from state to state and took bit parts in Hollywood, but even the film of his own life failed to improve his fortunes. But for all his travails, Thorpe did not succumb. The man survived, complications and all, and so did the myth.
Path Lit by Lightning is a great American story from a master biographer.
- by Katya Adamo Ferguson
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Resurgence is an inspiring collection of contemporary Indigenous poetry, art, and narratives that guides teachers in bridging existing K-12 curricula with Indigenous voices and pedagogies. In this first book in The Footbridge Series, we invite you to walk with us as we seek to:connect peoples and placeslink truth and reconciliation as ongoing processessymbolize the risk and urgency of this work for both Indigenous and settler educatorsengage tensionshighlight the importance of balance, both of ideas and within ourselvesThrough critical engagement with the texts, experienced educators Christine M'Lot and Katya Adamov Ferguson support readers in connecting with Indigenous narratives and perspectives, bringing Indigenous works in their classrooms, and creating more equitable and sustainable teaching practices.
In this resource, you will finddiverse Indigenous voices, perspectives, and art forms from a variety of Nations and locationsvaluable concepts and methods that can be applied to the classroom and beyondpractical action steps and resources for educators, parents, librarians, and administratorsUse this book as a springboard for your own learning journey or as a lively prompt for dialogue within your professional learning community.
- by Brandi Morin
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A wildfire of a debut memoir by internationally recognized French/Cree/Iroquois journalist Brandi Morin set to transform the narrative around Indigenous Peoples.
Brandi Morin is known for her clear-eyed and empathetic reporting on Indigenous oppression in North America. She is also a survivor of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls crisis and uses her experience to tell the stories of those who did not survive the rampant violence. From her time as a foster kid and runaway who fell victim to predatory men and an oppressive system to her career as an internationally acclaimed journalist, Our Voice of Fire chronicles Morin's journey to overcome enormous adversity and find her purpose, and her power, through journalism. This compelling, honest book is full of self-compassion and the purifying fire of a pursuit for justice.
- by Scott Berthelette
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The fur trade was the heart of the French empire in early North America. The French-Canadian (Canadien) men who traversed the vast hinterlands of the Hudson Bay watershed, trading for furs from Indigenous trappers and hunters, were its cornerstone. Though the Canadiens worked for French colonial authorities, they were not unwavering agents of imperial power. Increasingly they found themselves between two worlds as they built relationships with Indigenous communities, sometimes joining them through adoption or marriage, raising families of their own. The result was an ambivalent empire that grew in fits and starts. It was guided by imperfect information, built upon a contested Indigenous borderland, fragmented by local interests, and periodically neglected by government administrators. Heirs of an Ambivalent Empire explores the lives of the Canadiens who used family and kinship ties to navigate between sovereign Indigenous nations and the French colonial government from the early 1660s to the 1780s. Acting as cultural intermediaries, the Canadiens made it possible for France to extend its presence into northwest North America. Over time, however, their uncertain relationships with the French colonial state splintered imperial authority, leading to an outcome that few could have foreseen - the emergence of a new Indigenous culture, language, people, and nation: the Métis.
- by Myra-ed. Tait
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Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal is a collection of elegant, thoughtful, and powerful reflections about Indigenous Peoples' complicated, and often frustrating, relationship with Canada, and how--even 150 years after Confederation--the fight for recognition of their treaty and Aboriginal rights continues.
- by Anna Hudson
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Qummut Qukiria! celebrates art and culture within and beyond traditional Inuit and Sámi homelands in the Circumpolar Arctic -- from the continuance of longstanding practices such as storytelling and skin sewing to the development of innovative new art forms such as throatboxing (a hybrid of traditional Inuit throat singing and beatboxing). In this illuminating book, curators, scholars, artists, and activists from Inuit Nunangat, Kalaallit Nunaat, Sápmi, Canada, and Scandinavia address topics as diverse as Sámi rematriation and the revival of the ládjogahpir (a Sámi woman's headgear), the experience of bringing Inuit stone carving to a workshop for inner-city youth, and the decolonizing potential of Traditional Knowledge and its role in contemporary design and beyond.
Qummut Qukiria! showcases the thriving art and culture of the Indigenous Circumpolar peoples in the present and demonstrates its importance for the revitalization of language, social wellbeing, and cultural identity.
- 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?