The best Native American history books

Greg Shed Author Of Squanto's Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving
By Greg Shed

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.

The books I picked & why

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Creation's Journey: Native American Identity and Belief

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

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

Why 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.


Pilgrim Voices: Our First Year in the New World

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

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

Why 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.


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

By Dee Brown,

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

Why 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.


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

By Dan Aadland,

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

Why 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.


Panther in the Sky: A Novel Based on the Life of Tecumseh

By James Alexander Thom,

Book cover of Panther in the Sky: A Novel Based on the Life of Tecumseh

Why 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. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Native Americans, the American West, and Plymouth Colony?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Native Americans, the American West, and Plymouth Colony.

Native Americans Explore 128 books about Native Americans
The American West Explore 91 books about the American West
Plymouth Colony Explore 8 books about Plymouth Colony

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like News of the World, True Grit, and The Great Plains if you like this list.