11 books directly related to indigenous peoples 📚

All 11 indigenous peoples books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Book cover of Braiding Sweetgrass

Braiding Sweetgrass

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Why this book?

This is another poetic, lyrical, inspiring book. Kimmerer’s combined Indigenous and scientific ways of knowing—and how much truth she speaks as a mother and teacher—offers a warm embrace into thinking of the world as a most precious gift. When we receive gifts, we are humbled and feel compelled by joy to give back—what an astonishing, hopeful way to think about slowing down human-driven climate change. Kimmerer speaks from the heart. We can’t stop thinking about the “three sisters” (corn, beans, and pumpkins) and how they find room to grow around each other and help one another thrive in her garden.…

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The best books for inspiring lifelong learning

Book cover of Solomon Islanders in World War II: An Indigenous Perspective

Solomon Islanders in World War II: An Indigenous Perspective

By Anna Annie Kwai,

Why this book?

Anna Annie Kwai is a Solomon Islander historian who brings together documentary historical sources with oral history and personal recollections to tell the story of the war in the Southwest Pacific from the point of view of Solomon Islanders themselves—including the work of the famous “coastwatchers,” the Battle of Guadalcanal, and the rescue of the crew of Lt. John F. Kennedy’s PT-109. An essential addition to the study of the Southwest Pacific war.

From the list:

The best books on indigenous experiences of WW2 in the Pacific Islands

Book cover of I Am Not a Number

I Am Not a Number

By Jenny Kay Dupuis, Kathy Kacer, Gillian Newland (illustrator)

Why this book?

We as a nation and society are on the road to truth and reconciliation. Critical to that journey are stories such as I Am Not a Number. The book tells the heartbreaking story of Irene, the author’s grandmother, and her brothers who were taken away from their home on Nipissing First Nation to live at a residential school, very far from home. At the school, names are not used. All students are known by numbers. This story will inspire important conversations that will help younger generations understand the horrors so many indigenous children endured in the residential schools. It…
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The best children’s books to spark conversations between generations

Book cover of Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism

Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism

By Mahmood Mamdani,

Why this book?

This is one of the most compelling books written on Africa. The author insightfully and thoughtfully reassesses the predicament and plight of the African continent with regards to socio-cultural development, institution-building, nation-building, and state-building. The book – both challenging and stimulating as it is – proves to be a somewhat difficult read as the author alternately targets scholars of African studies more than students of Africa as his main audience and recipients.

From the list:

The best book on contemporary Africa and the legacy of late colonialism

Book cover of The Red Deal: Indigenous Action to Save Our Earth

The Red Deal: Indigenous Action to Save Our Earth

By The Red Nation,

Why this book?

The Red Nation is a revolutionary Indigenous organization that is part of the historic 21st-century revival of Indigenous culture and political resistance that has emerged across the Americas to block oil pipelines, prevent mining projects, and basically lead the fight to save us all from climate extinction. This is their manifesto.

The Red Deal engages with many of the ideas of the “Green New Deal” proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others, but starts from the standpoint of Indigenous people across the world. As a result, it puts the fight against climate change in the context of 500 years of capitalism…

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Book cover of The Break

The Break

By Katherena Vermette,

Why this book?

Fair warning, you need to be in the right mood to take on this story. And it’s not quite a hidden gem since it has won numerous awards. It starts with a Metis woman who witnesses an assault on a barren ice-covered field on an isolated strip of utilities land outside her house in the Canadian Prairies. The story weaves through multiple narratives of people connected to the victim and exposes the reader to the lives and social issues that impact multiple generations of women in this indigenous family. Although difficult to read, it’s supposed to make you uncomfortable. As…

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The best hidden gems by Canadian writers

Book cover of When We Were Alone

When We Were Alone

By David A. Robertson, Julie Flett (illustrator),

Why this book?

This book is a conversation between a grandchild and their grandma who is a residential school survivor. With childlike simplicity, grandma explains why her colourful clothes, long hair, and treasured time with her brother are a reaction to being taken “from community” and being sent “far far away”. Grandma talks about students forced to wear uniforms, cut their hair, forbidden from speaking Cree, and separation from her brother.

This is a book I would probably have steered clear of “not wanting to frighten my children” when I was parenting, David Roberson does a masterful job of gently laying out facts…

From the list:

The best books I wish I could have read to my children & ones I would read to them again

Book cover of Five Little Indians

Five Little Indians

By Michelle Good,

Why this book?

This is a story of children torn from their homes and forced to live in the horrific conditions of residential schools. Imprisoned and away from the love and protection of families and communities, many were abused for years by people whose words may have preached God’s love but whose actions demonstrated darker intentions. A few children managed to escape while many others were carelessly released to the unforgiving streets of east Vancouver where some managed to navigate their way through life while others succumbed to the demons that haunted them.

Having personally seen the impact this has had on people…

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The best Canadian historical fiction with strong female characters

Book cover of Mad White Giant

Mad White Giant

By Benedict Allen,

Why this book?

This journey is simultaneously a descent into fear and chaos and an ascent into manhood. An excitable young man on his first solo journey deliberately throwing himself way out of his depth in the Orinoco basin. Allen’s aim to learn how to survive in the jungle from the indigenous peoples who’ve thrived there for centuries is a pattern he came to repeat throughout his career and one that many explorers should learn from. Things take a turn when he overhears a plot on his life and he makes a solo one-month escape from the jungle with only the clothes on…

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The best solo adventure books

Book cover of Words of the Lagoon: Fishing and Marine Lore in the Palau District of Micronesia

Words of the Lagoon: Fishing and Marine Lore in the Palau District of Micronesia

By R.E. Johannes,

Why this book?

There has been growing recognition that our scientific understanding of environmental matters can be enhanced if we would only listen to the wisdom of indigenous peoples. This recognition only occasionally leads to a serious effort by environmental scientists to learn from indigenous peoples. Dr. Robert Johannes was a tropical fisheries biologist who, in the mid-1970s, was well ahead of his time when he took time out of a busy academic career to spend a couple of years on tiny, remote islands in Palau, Micronesia to learn from elders how to catch fish. This book is a non-technical account of what…

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The best books on being a coral reef scientist

Book cover of Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing

Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing

By Robert Wolff,

Why this book?

Green burial is not a new idea; it has been practiced for thousands of years and is still commonly practiced around the world. Green burial is also starting to be used as an avenue of enabling the restoration and preservation of habitat. The tradition of green (or natural) burials dates back to ancient times. For most of human history, in cultures where bodies were buried, the body was placed in a grave, perhaps wrapped in a shroud or in a simple box, directly into the ground. Robert’s chapters provide sustenance for the world full of people who exist in complete…

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The best books if you literally want to go green when you die