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 Chelsea Vowel
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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.
- by Jonina Kirton
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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.
- by ANNHARTE
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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.
- 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 Eden Robinson
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NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY CBC BOOKS AND THE GLOBE AND MAIL
In the third book of her brilliant and captivating Trickster Trilogy, Eden Robinson delivers an explosive, surprising and satisfying resolution to the story.
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--the ones who don't see the magic he attracts--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. Sarah, his ex, is happy he's a magical being, but everyone else he loves is either pissed with him, or in mortal danger from the dark forces he's accidentally unleashed, or both. The scariest of those dark forces 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.
Even though his mother resents like hell that Jared has taken after his dad, she is also determined that no one is going to hurt her son. For Maggie it's simple--Kill or be killed, bucko. 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.
- by Danielle Daniel
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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.
- by Sheila North
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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.
- by Traci Sorell
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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.
- by Jerry Fontaine
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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.
- by Thomas King
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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 starting to open their doors again, everything can go back to normal.
But when Thumps unintentionally discovers a body at the bottom of a treacherous canyon, he becomes entangled once again in an inexplicable mystery. 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 with wit and wry humour to solve a mystery that only Thomas King could create.
- by Tomson Highway
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Capricious, big-hearted, joyful: an epic memoir from one of Canada's most acclaimed Indigenous writers and performers
Tomson Highway was born in a snowbank on an island in the sub-Arctic, the eleventh of twelve children in a nomadic, caribou-hunting Cree family. Growing up in a land of ten thousand lakes and islands, Tomson relished being pulled by dogsled beneath a night sky alive with stars, sucking the juices from roasted muskrat tails, and singing country music songs with his impossibly beautiful older sister and her teenaged friends. Surrounded by the love of his family and the vast, mesmerizing landscape they called home, his was in many ways an idyllic far-north childhood. But five of Tomson's siblings died in childhood, and Balazee and Joe Highway, who loved their surviving children profoundly, wanted their two youngest sons, Tomson and Rene, to enjoy opportunities as big as the world. And so when Tomson was six, he was flown south by float plane to attend a residential school. A year later Rene joined him to begin the rest of their education. In 1990 Rene Highway, a world-renowned dancer, died of an AIDS-related illness. Permanent Astonishment: Growing Up in the Land of Snow and Sky is Tomson's extravagant embrace of his younger brother's final words: "Don't mourn me, be joyful." His memoir offers insights, both hilarious and profound, into the Cree experience of culture, conquest, and survival.
- by Adrian Paton
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“An honest, genial and kindly people.” This phrase which was written in a journal by Cecil Le Mesurier, an early settler in southeast Saskatchewan, is used to describe the Indigenous people he interacts with in the area. Within this book you will find a collection of historic photographs from the turn of the century, displaying stunning images of the First Nations people that Le Mesurier describes. Adrian K. Paton, curator of the South Saskatchewan Photo Museum, has been collecting photos for decades. In his first book, Paton shares many historical and compelling images of Indigenous people that he has compiled over the years. He recounts stories told to him by his Indigenous friends and connects them to the photos chosen for this book, weaving the oral and the visual history together.
- by Drew Hayden Taylor
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First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists, activists, educators and writers, youth and elders come together to envision Indigenous futures in Canada and around the world. Discussing everything from language renewal to sci-fi, this collection is a powerful and important expression of imagination rooted in social critique, cultural experience, traditional knowledge, activism and the multifaceted experiences of Indigenous people on Turtle Island. In Me Tomorrow... Darrel J. McLeod, Cree author from Treaty-8 territory in Northern Alberta, blends the four elements of the Indigenous cosmovision with the four directions of the medicine wheel to create a prayer for the power, strength and resilience of Indigenous peoples. Autumn Peltier, Anishinaabe water-rights activist, tells the origin story of her present and future career in advocacy--and how the nine months she spent in her mother's womb formed her first water teaching. When the water breaks, like snow melting in the spring, new life comes. Lee Maracle, acclaimed Stó:l? Nation author and educator, reflects on cultural revival--imagining a future a century from now in which Indigenous people are more united than ever before. Other essayists include Cyndy and Makwa Baskin, Norma Dunning, Shalan Joudry, Shelley Knott-Fife, Tracie Léost, Stephanie Peltier, Romeo Saganash, Drew Hayden Taylor and Raymond Yakeleya. For readers who want to imagine the future, and to cultivate a better one, Me Tomorrow is a journey through the visions generously offered by a diverse group of Indigenous thinkers.
- by Chantal Fiola
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Returning to Ceremony is the follow-up to Chantal Fiola's award-winning Rekindling the Sacred Fire and continues her ground-breaking examination of Métis spirituality, debunking stereotypes such as "all Métis people are Catholic," and "Métis people do not go to ceremonies." Fiola finds that, among the Métis, spirituality exists on a continuum of Indigenous and Christian traditions, and that Métis spirituality includes ceremonies. For some Métis, it is a historical continuation of the relationships their ancestral communities have had with ceremonies since time immemorial, and for others, it is a homecoming - a return to ceremony after some time away. Fiola employs a Métis-specific and community-centred methodology to gather evidence from archives, priests' correspondence, oral history, storytelling, and literature. With assistance from six Métis community researchers, Fiola listened to stories and experiences shared by thirty-two Métis from six Manitoba Métis communities that are at the heart of this book. They offer insight into their families' relationships with land, community, culture, and religion, including factors that inhibit or nurture connection to ceremonies such as sweat lodge, Sundance, and the Midewiwin. Valuable profiles emerge for six historic Red River Métis communities (Duck Bay, Camperville, St Laurent, St François-Xavier, Ste Anne, and Lorette), providing a clearer understanding of identity, culture, and spirituality that uphold Métis Nation sovereignty.
- by Dawn Dumont
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The hilarious story of an unlikely group of Indigenous dancers who find themselves thrown together on a performance tour of Europe The Tour is all prepared. The Prairie Chicken dance troupe is all set for a fifteen-day trek through Europe, performing at festivals and cultural events. But then the performers all come down with the flu. And John Greyeyes, a retired cowboy who hasn't danced in fifteen years, finds himself abruptly thrust into the position of leading a hastily-assembled group of replacement dancers. A group of expert dancers they are not. There's a middle-aged woman with advanced arthritis, her nineteen-year-old niece who is far more interested in flirtations than pow-wow, and an enigmatic man from the U.S. -- all being chased by Nadine, the organizer of the original tour who is determined to be a part of the action, and the handsome man she picked up in a gas-station bathroom. They're all looking to John, who has never left the continent, to guide them through a world that he knows nothing about. As the gang makes its way from one stop to another, absolutely nothing goes as planned and the tour becomes a string of madcap adventures. The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour is loosely based -- like, hospital-gown loose -- on the true story of a group of Indigenous dancers who left Saskatchewan and toured through Europe in the 1970s. Dawn Dumont brings her signature razor-sharp wit and impeccable comedic timing to this hilarious, warm, and wildly entertaining novel.