52 books like Massacre in Minnesota

By Gary Clayton Anderson,

Here are 52 books that Massacre in Minnesota fans have personally recommended if you like Massacre in Minnesota. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Night Watchman

Rebecca Turkewitz Author Of Here in the Night

From my list on night’s tantalizing and terrifying potential.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been intrigued by the way night transforms familiar landscapes, creates a sense of loosened boundaries, and seems to be rich with almost magical potential. One of my most beloved books as a kid was The BFG, partly because of its magnificent passage about the witching hour, “the special moment…when all the dark things came out from hiding and had the world to themselves.” Later, I discovered Hamlet’s take on it and was equally charmed. It’s no surprise that many of the key moments in my debut collection, Here in the Night, take place after dark. Here are my five favorite books that capture the beguiling power of nighttime. 

Rebecca's book list on night’s tantalizing and terrifying potential

Rebecca Turkewitz Why did Rebecca love this book?

This stunning, sprawling novel is anchored by the experiences of Thomas Wazhashk, the night watchman at a jewel-bearing factory in rural North Dakota.

It explores the strangeness of working the night shift and living with a semi-nocturnal schedule. The job and his tireless fight against a bill that will further dispossess Native Americans drive Thomas to a state of near-exhaustion.

Some of the most memorable moments in this compassionate and narratively ambitious book were the descriptions of Thomas’s lonely and occasionally revelatory experiences on the night shift, including his encounters with a white owl he finds pecking at the factory windows. I found this novel, like all of Erdrich’s books, to be immersive and enthralling.  

By Louise Erdrich,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Night Watchman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE IN FICTION 2021

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

It is 1953. Thomas Wazhushk is the night watchman at the first factory to open near the Turtle Mountain Reservation in rural North Dakota. He is also a prominent Chippewa Council member, trying to understand a new bill that is soon to be put before Congress. The US Government calls it an 'emancipation' bill; but it isn't about freedom - it threatens the rights of Native Americans to their land, their very identity. How can he fight this betrayal?

Unlike most of the girls on the reservation, Pixie…


Book cover of Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life

Colin Mustful Author Of Resisting Removal: The Sandy Lake Tragedy of 1850

From my list on Minnesota’s Native American history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was attending graduate school in Mankato, Minnesota when I first discovered that 38 Dakota men were hanged there on December 26, 1862. I was shocked to find out that the largest simultaneous mass execution in United States history happened right where I lived and I knew nothing about it. Since then, I’ve dedicated myself to learning, understanding, and sharing the history of the U.S. – Dakota War of 1862. Over the years, I’ve discovered not just the history, but the legacy of that history for us today. Someday, I hope we all come to understand, and eventually break down, that legacy.  

Colin's book list on Minnesota’s Native American history

Colin Mustful Why did Colin love this book?

In Rez Life, David Treuer, an Ojibwe from the Leech Lake Reservation, shows us the real-life consequences of historical events and policy. Through scholarship and anecdote, Treuer teaches readers what it really means to be Native American in a country that has tried, time and again, to erase them. Rez Life is not the history book rendition of past wrongs and tragic events. Instead, it is an articulate, expressive look at the people who live with the legacy of those past wrongs and tragic events. It shows readers the Native Americans they won’t see in history books—the ones that exist today, fighting to overcome the trauma thrust upon them.

By David Treuer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rez Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A prize-winning writer offers “an affecting portrait of his childhood home, Leech Lake Indian Reservation, and his people, the Ojibwe” (The New York Times).
 
A member of the Ojibwe of northern Minnesota, David Treuer grew up on Leech Lake Reservation, but was educated in mainstream America. Exploring crime and poverty, casinos and wealth, and the preservation of native language and culture, Rez Life is a strikingly original blend of history, memoir, and journalism, a must read for anyone interested in the Native American story. With authoritative research and reportage, he illuminates issues of sovereignty, treaty rights, and natural-resource conservation. He…


Book cover of The Assassination of Hole in the Day

Colin Mustful Author Of Resisting Removal: The Sandy Lake Tragedy of 1850

From my list on Minnesota’s Native American history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was attending graduate school in Mankato, Minnesota when I first discovered that 38 Dakota men were hanged there on December 26, 1862. I was shocked to find out that the largest simultaneous mass execution in United States history happened right where I lived and I knew nothing about it. Since then, I’ve dedicated myself to learning, understanding, and sharing the history of the U.S. – Dakota War of 1862. Over the years, I’ve discovered not just the history, but the legacy of that history for us today. Someday, I hope we all come to understand, and eventually break down, that legacy.  

Colin's book list on Minnesota’s Native American history

Colin Mustful Why did Colin love this book?

Bagonegiizhig, better known as Hole in the Day, is an extremely charismatic figure in the history of Minnesota, yet few know of his life and leadership. In The Assassination of Hole in the Day, Ojibwe historian and scholar Anton Treuer skillfully reveals the rise and downfall of this clever, polarizing figure. An expert at his craft, Treuer provides readers with an excellent historical context to understand the world in which Hole in the Day lived. Then, Treuer shows readers how Hole in the Day rose to prominence and why he should not be overlooked by the annals of history.  

By Anton Treuer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Assassination of Hole in the Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On June 27, 1868, Hole in the Day (Bagonegiizhig) the Younger left Crow Wing, Minnesota, for Washington, DC, to fight the planned removal of the Mississippi Ojibwe to a reservation at White Earth. Several miles from his home, the self-styled leader of all the Ojibwe was stopped by at least twelve Ojibwe men and fatally shot.

Hole in the Day's death was national news, and rumors of its cause were many: personal jealousy, retribution for his claiming to be head chief of the Ojibwe, retaliation for the attacks he fomented in 1862, or retribution for his attempts to keep mixed-blood…


Book cover of The Night Birds

Colin Mustful Author Of Resisting Removal: The Sandy Lake Tragedy of 1850

From my list on Minnesota’s Native American history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was attending graduate school in Mankato, Minnesota when I first discovered that 38 Dakota men were hanged there on December 26, 1862. I was shocked to find out that the largest simultaneous mass execution in United States history happened right where I lived and I knew nothing about it. Since then, I’ve dedicated myself to learning, understanding, and sharing the history of the U.S. – Dakota War of 1862. Over the years, I’ve discovered not just the history, but the legacy of that history for us today. Someday, I hope we all come to understand, and eventually break down, that legacy.  

Colin's book list on Minnesota’s Native American history

Colin Mustful Why did Colin love this book?

Set before, during, and after the U.S. – Dakota War of 1862, The Night Birds by Thomas Maltman uses fiction to effectively convey the trauma of one of Minnesota’s most tragic events. Using well-developed, relatable characters, Maltman works hard to intertwine people and places in a way that is emotionally moving. Maltman includes numerous historic facts along with culturally relevant details that work to make the novel incredibly interesting, while making the characters and their journeys very compelling. Finally, he manages to capture the pain and suffering of Dakota and white characters alike. It’s a slow, but highly rewarding read. 

By Thomas Maltman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Night Birds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A “luminously written and harrowing” historical saga of three generations of German immigrants to the Midwest (Minneapolis Star Tribune).
 
“Set in the 1860s and ’70s, Maltman’s superb debut evokes a Midwest lacerated by clashes between European and Native American, slaveowner and abolitionist, killer and healer, nature and culture. Asa Senger, a lonely 14-year-old boy, is at first wary when his father’s sister, Hazel, arrives at his parents’ Minnesota home after a long stay in a faraway asylum, but he comes to cherish the mysterious Hazel’s warmth and company. Through her stories, Asa learns of his family’s bitter past: the lore…


Book cover of Those Who Belong: Identity, Family, Blood, and Citizenship among the White Earth Anishinaabeg

Cayla Bellanger DeGroat Author Of The Real History of Thanksgiving: Left Out of History

From my list on the power of Indigenous stories, identity, and histories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an avid reader, lover of history, and newly-published author of The Real History of Thanksgiving (with more projects in the works!). I'm a mother of two and come from a large family at Gaa-waabigaanikaag, White Earth Reservation. I'm enrolled citizen of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. I'm also an Oneida descendent with Irish, French, and Black ancestry. Much of my journey as a writer has been exploring the threads of our humanity and histories. It's powerful to think that we are still here, through time, distance, love, pain, and survival. There is immense beauty in being human and being Indigenous, and these books have been a source of connection and learning in my journey.

Cayla's book list on the power of Indigenous stories, identity, and histories

Cayla Bellanger DeGroat Why did Cayla love this book?

This book explores blood quantum, a faulty metric of “Indian blood” used to determine who is eligible for citizenship in a Native American tribe.

Blood quantum is a hot topic of discussion and continues to be controversial in Indian Country. Doerfler frames the issue expertly when she explores the real history of how White Earth Anishinaabeg at different periods of time conceive of identity. Or rather, who belongs, which is at the root of being Native American, both politically and personally.

My own feelings about blood quantum, once waffling and unsure, have evolved over the years. This book solidified my belief that blood quantum is built to destroy tribal nations and Indigenous identity.

By Jill Doerfler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Those Who Belong as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Despite the central role blood quantum played in political formations of American Indian identity in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there are few studies that explore how tribal nations have contended with this transformation of tribal citizenship.

Those Who Belong explores how White Earth Anishinaabeg understood identity and blood quantum in the early twentieth century, how it was employed and manipulated by the U.S. government, how it came to be the sole requirement for tribal citizenship in 1961, and how a contemporary effort for constitutional reform sought a return to citizenship criteria rooted in Anishinaabe kinship, replacing the blood…


Book cover of Murder on the Red River

Candace Simar Author Of Follow Whiskey Creek

From my list on historical stories with great character development.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always liked to imagine how things might have been. In my thinking, a good historical novel is a story set inside the larger world of the time, like a nesting doll with a story inside a story. I look for accurate research, well-developed characters, a unique storyline, and dialogue that comes alive on the page. I expect the history to be a backdrop for a story of ordinary people living through extraordinary times. This is what I like to read and how I have written my novels set during the Civil War, Great Sioux Uprising of 1862, and the home front of World War 2.

Candace's book list on historical stories with great character development

Candace Simar Why did Candace love this book?

Murder on the Red River is a historical mystery set in 1970s Fargo and western Minnesota.

The protagonist is a young Native American woman who is a grain truck driver and expert pool player. Cash grew up in a series of unhappy foster homes and is disconnected from her family. Her one constant is a sheriff who rescued her as a young child and continues to watch over her. Cash sometimes helps him solve cases.

Viet Nam is in the background. The racism, alcoholism, despair of Native Americans stuck in the reservation, and generational injustices of Native Americans keep the pages turning. I hated to see it end.

By Marcie R. Rendon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Murder on the Red River as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One Book, One Minnesota Selection for Summer 2021
 
Introducing Cash Blackbear, a young Ojibwe woman whose visions and grit help solve a brutal murder in this award-winning debut.

1970s, Red River Valley between North Dakota and Minnesota: Renee “Cash” Blackbear is 19 years old and tough as nails. She lives in Fargo, North Dakota, where she drives truck for local farmers, drinks beer, plays pool, and helps solve criminal investigations through the power of her visions. She has one friend, Sheriff Wheaton, her guardian, who helped her out of the broken foster care system.

One Saturday morning, Sheriff Wheaton is…


Book cover of Evil Dead Center: A Mystery

Marcie R. Rendon Author Of Girl Gone Missing

From my list on deadliest crime novels by Native American authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an Anishinaabe writer, my award-winning/nominated books, Murder on the Red River and Girl Gone Missing, feature Cash Blackbear; a young, Native woman, who solves crimes for the county sheriff. Oprah Magazine 2020 listed me as a Native American Author to read. I received Minnesota's 2020 McKnight Distinguished Artist Award. My script, Say Their Names, had a staged reading with Out of Hand Theater, Atlanta, 2021. Vazquez and I received the Loft’s 2017 Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship for work with incarcerated women. I have been a friend, colleague, and peer with the authors recommended. We might currently be a small crew writing but we are a mighty, award-winning crew.

Marcie's book list on deadliest crime novels by Native American authors

Marcie R. Rendon Why did Marcie love this book?

I met Carole LaFavor, Ojibwe, when I was writing for community newspapers and local magazines. I wrote a profile of LaFavor detailing her activism work in the Native community. Later, we were both in a writing group. I first heard some of the early writing she was doing for Evil Dead Center. She was the first Native woman I met writing crime and she inspired me to keep going on the book I was writing at the time.  University of Minnesota Press re-released Evil Dead Center in 2017 with the forward reading, “to underscore the significance of her writing to the Indigenous literary canon, to remind us of the power of her activism for HIV-positive Native peoples, and to return her important claims for the centrality of Two-Spirit peoples, bodies, and histories to the public eye.” - Lisa Tatonetti

By Carole Lafavor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Evil Dead Center as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An Ojibwa woman has been found dead on the outskirts of the Minnesota Red Earth Reservation. The coroner ruled the death a suicide, but after an ex-lover comes back into her life saying foul play was involved, Renee LaRoche wants to prove otherwise. As the events begin to unfold, Renee conducts a presumably normal welfare check on a young Ojibwa boy in foster care. After she learns the boy has suffered abuse, Renee finds herself amid an investigation into the foster care system and the deep trauma it has inflicted on the Ojibwa people. As Renee uncovers horrible truths, she…


Book cover of While the Locust Slept: A Memoir

Cayla Bellanger DeGroat Author Of The Real History of Thanksgiving: Left Out of History

From my list on the power of Indigenous stories, identity, and histories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an avid reader, lover of history, and newly-published author of The Real History of Thanksgiving (with more projects in the works!). I'm a mother of two and come from a large family at Gaa-waabigaanikaag, White Earth Reservation. I'm enrolled citizen of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. I'm also an Oneida descendent with Irish, French, and Black ancestry. Much of my journey as a writer has been exploring the threads of our humanity and histories. It's powerful to think that we are still here, through time, distance, love, pain, and survival. There is immense beauty in being human and being Indigenous, and these books have been a source of connection and learning in my journey.

Cayla's book list on the power of Indigenous stories, identity, and histories

Cayla Bellanger DeGroat Why did Cayla love this book?

In college I majored in American Indian Studies and became very familiar with the term “survivance”. First used by Anishinaabeg writer Gerald Vizenor, survivance, defined is survival that transcends victimhood, that resists generations of oppression, and carves meaning out of great pain.

Peter Razor embodies survivance in his autobiography, which recounts his childhood as a ward of the State of Minnesota in the 1930s. His story is one of many that shines a light on a dark period when many Native American children were taken from their homes and families, forced to uproot their identity and existence to the unforgiving world of white America.

By Peter Razor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked While the Locust Slept as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Through transcendent prose, an Ojibwe man chronicles his survival of abuse and bigotry at a state orphanage in the 1930s and the brutal farm indenture that followed.

In stark, haunting prose, first-time author Peter Razor recalls his early years as a ward of the State of Minnesota. Disclosing his story through flashbacks and relying on research from his own case files, Razor pieces together the shattered fragments of his boyhood into a memoir that reads as compellingly as a novel.

Abandoned as an infant at the State Public School in Owatonna, Minnesota, Razor was raised by abusive workers who thought…


Book cover of A Cry in the Night

Samantha Lee Howe Author Of The House of Killers

From my list on exploring psychopathic behavior.

Why am I passionate about this?

I so love thrillers because they delve into that area of ourselves that can be ‘safely’ afraid and give you that adrenaline rush that nature taught us is fight or flight. Thrillers teach us lessons, too, about people and the psychology of the most dangerous ones in our society. Through reading into this genre, I learned a lot about life before I even lived it, and I learned to recognize the less wholesome traits that humanity can have. What’s fascinating to me most is exploring those dark sides of the human psyche in order to make comparisons on what is right or wrong with some people’s behavior. 

Samantha's book list on exploring psychopathic behavior

Samantha Lee Howe Why did Samantha love this book?

This book is one of many Mary Higgins Clark books I read in my early teens, but this particular one has stayed with me. It is a domestic noir, somewhat a tale of how never to rush into a marriage with someone you hardly know. Added to this is the peril of involving small children.

I really liked this book–it terrified me beyond belief, but I think this is why it has stayed with me. That first look perhaps at the psychopath hiding in plain sight, appearing to all the world like a safe, kind person, but inside, totally damaged and deadly. Superb.

By Mary Higgins Clark,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Cry in the Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mary Higgins Clark, the New York Times bestselling Queen of Suspense shares another story filled with intrigue and mystery.

When Jenny MacPartland meets the man of her dreams while working in a New York art gallery, she’s ecstatic. Painter Erich Krueger—whose exquisite landscapes are making him a huge success—is handsome, sensitive...and utterly in love with her. They marry quickly and Jenny plans a loving home on Erich’s vast Minnesota farm. But lonely days and eerie nights strain her nerves to the breaking point and test her sanity. Caught in a whirlpool of shattering events, Jenny soon unearths a past more…


Book cover of Aya: An Anthology of Racial Justice, Healing and the Black Experience

Artika Tyner Author Of The Untold Story of John P. Parker: Underground Railroad Conductor

From my list on champions for racial justice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a civil rights attorney, author, and lifelong educator. My work has focused on addressing racial disparities in education and criminal justice. I worked on the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice and created restorative justice programs in schools. As a leadership scholar, I read books on remarkable sheroes and heroes. This provides me with keen insights into the leadership characteristics of changemakers while developing the tools to better understand how to build and sustain social change.

Artika's book list on champions for racial justice

Artika Tyner Why did Artika love this book?

This book is written by Minnesota youth after the murder of Mr. George Floyd.

As the nation faced the dual pandemic of the novel COVID-19 and racial reckoning, our youth needed a sacred space to pause, reflect, and heal. Through community writing workshops, youth developed the tools to write for justice. Their stories reflect their vision for building a more just and inclusive society.

By Artika Tyner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Aya as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Aya is an anthology produced by Black Minnesota voices. Youth and community activists shared their reflections on justice and healing. This 2022 publication is its inaugural edition.

Aya Anthology was created to ignite change in the furtherance of racial justice. It serves as an invitation to lead and serve in the community.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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