The best Native American history books

Who am I?

Greg Shed is a self-taught California illustrator specializing in Americana. In addition to commercial work and portraits, he has illustrated more than a dozen children’s books—several of which are about American history. A dedicated researcher, Greg has traveled from the Plymouth colony to the American prairie in search of authenticity and details. He has consulted with Native American craftsmen on the manufacture of native period attire. He is known for capturing golden light in his paintings, which often depict Native American cultures, wildlife, and landscapes.


I illustrated...

Squanto's Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving

By Joseph Bruchac, Greg Shed (illustrator),

Book cover of Squanto's Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving

What is my book about?

It has a deep and thoughtful understanding of Native American traditions through the almost mythical life of Tecumseh from the Shawnee Nation. With a colorful and descriptive view of language as if a Native American is speaking to the reader.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Creation's Journey: Native American Identity and Belief

Greg Shed Why did I love this book?

Creation’s Journey ties actual native stories and beliefs with genuine artifacts from the vast collections of the National Museum of the American Indian. It provides a refreshing approach to our understanding of indigenous people’s utilitarian objects and how important they are in their daily lives. The photos in this book show the care for detail and craftsmanship that was pervasive in everyday Native American objects and clothing. It inspired me to commission native Americans to hand make the various costumes shown in my book.

By Tom Hill (editor), Richard W. Hill (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Creation's Journey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Drawing on the vast collections of the National Museum of the American Indian, Creation’s Journey retells the story of native life from the Arctic to the Tierra del Fuego, and from childhood to old age.


Book cover of Pilgrim Voices: Our First Year in the New World

Greg Shed Why did I love this book?

Pilgrim Voices provides a fascinating first-hand description of pilgrims’ lives told through actual diaries and journals. Reading some of these 400-year-old accounts inspired me to visit the recreated 17th-century village of Plymouth Colony to gain a better sense of the environment as it once was in its wild and untamed state, along with the living conditions, customs, foods, and clothing of some of America’s first European settlers in the early 1600s.

By Connie Roop (editor), Peter Roop (editor), Shelley Pritchett (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pilgrim Voices as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

A Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People and a C. S. Lewis Noteworthy book: A rich history of the pilgrim experience, as recorded in real diaries

Nearly four hundred years after the pilgrims left England in search of a better life, their stories still resonate with Americans today. In this account, the pilgrims’ own writings of their adventures and hardships are brought to life for young readers.
 
This touching account shows the pilgrims’ voyage on the Mayflower, their first meeting with the native people, and the hardships of hunger, illness, and death that they faced during their first…


Book cover of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West

Greg Shed Why did I love this book?

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is a broad, well-researched tale of the indigenous people of the American West, chronicling the destruction of their way of life and their relocation to reservations amid the gradual encroachment of western civilization across the continental United States in the 19th Century. Describing the tribes and their leaders, Dee Brown captures the hardships and persecution of Native Americans, evoking an appreciation for their legacy and compassion for their plight. This book ignited my passion for painting the visual diversity and unique differences of various native nations.

By Dee Brown,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The American West, 1860-1890: years of broken promises, disillusionment, war and massacre.

Beginning with the Long Walk of the Navajos and ending with the massacre of Sioux at Wounded Knee, this extraordinary book tells how the American Indians lost their land, lives and liberty to white settlers pushing westward. Woven into a an engrossing saga of cruelty, treachery and violence are the fascinating stories of such legendary figures as Sitting Bull, Cochise, Crazy Horse and Geronimo.

First published in 1970, Dee Brown's brutal and compelling narrative changed the way people thought about the original inhabitants of America, and focused attention…


Book cover of Women and Warriors of the Plains: The Pioneer Photography of Julia E. Tuell

Greg Shed Why did I love this book?

Women and Warriors of the Plains is about the frontier adventures of a newly-married young woman and her camera in the early 20th Century. Settling on the Northern Cheyenne Indian reservation in Montana, Julia Tuell went on to capture portraits and photojournalistic depictions of Native Americans living off the land and going about their everyday lives, including the Northern Cheyenne and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of the Lakota nation. Many of Tuell’s photos taught me to compose my paintings in a more natural way.

By Dan Aadland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women and Warriors of the Plains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1901, Julia Tuell married a man who taught on several Indian reservations. While raising her children and doing the myriad tasks expected of a woman, she found time to become a photographer. This is a collection of her photographs, accompanied by text from Dan Aadland.


Book cover of Panther in the Sky

Greg Shed Why did I love this book?

Panther in the Sky is a historical fiction novel exploring the astonishing life of the Shawnee chief Tecumseh and his people’s struggles and achievements. It is filled with intimate conversations using inventive and colorful dialogue that gives the reader a deeper understanding of the Shawnee culture and its ancient traditions. Reading Thom’s novel helped me as an illustrator to bring the characters in my book more to life. 

By James Alexander Thom,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Panther in the Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rich, colorful and bursting with excitement, this remarkable story turns James Alexander Thom's power and passion for American history to the epic story of Tecumseh's life and give us a heart-thumping novel of one man's magnificent destiny—to unite his people in the struggle to save their land and their way of life from the relentless press of the white settlers.

“Oh, what a man this will be, with such a sign as that!”

In 1768, when Turtle Mother gave birth to a strong baby boy in the heart of the Shawnee nation, a green-yellow shooting star streaked across the heavens.…


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These Tangled Threads: A Novel of Biltmore

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Book cover of These Tangled Threads: A Novel of Biltmore

Sarah Loudin Thomas Author Of These Tangled Threads: A Novel of Biltmore

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Who am I?

Author Appalachian West virginian Dog lover Hiker

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What is my book about?

Seven years ago, a hidden betrayal scattered three friends living in the shadow of Biltmore Estate. Now, when Biltmore Industries master weaver Lorna Blankenship is commissioned to create an original design for Cornelia Vanderbilt's 1924 wedding, she panics knowing she doesn't have the creativity needed. But there's an elusive artisan in the Blue Ridge Mountains who could save her--if only she can find her.

To track the mysterious weaver down, Lorna must seek out the relationships she abandoned in shame. As she pulls at each tangled thread from her old life, Lorna is forced to confront the wounds of long ago. She'll have to risk the job that shapes her identity as well as the hope of friendship--and love--restored.

These Tangled Threads: A Novel of Biltmore

By Sarah Loudin Thomas,

What is this book about?

Seven years ago, a hidden betrayal scattered three young friends living in the shadow of Biltmore Estate. Now, when Biltmore Industries master weaver Lorna Blankenship is commissioned to create an original design for Cornelia Vanderbilt's 1924 wedding, she panics knowing she doesn't have the creativity needed. But there's an elusive artisan in the Blue Ridge Mountains who could save her--if only she can find her.

To track the mysterious weaver down, Lorna sees no other way but to seek out the relationships she abandoned in shame. As she pulls at each tangled thread from her old life, Lorna is forced…


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