The most recommended books about the Ojibwe

Who picked these books? Meet our 54 experts.

54 authors created a book list connected to the Ojibwe, and here are their favorite Ojibwe books.
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Book cover of The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present

David B. Allison Author Of Controversial Monuments and Memorials: A Guide for Community Leaders

From my list on memory that make you question how you see the past.

Why am I passionate about this?

Memory is capricious and impacts our view of the past. That’s why I do what I do! I am a twenty-year museum professional who began my career at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, worked at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science for almost ten years, and am now part of the Arts & History department at the City and County of Broomfield. I have designed and developed programs and events, as well as managed teams in each of these stops. I seek to illuminate stories, elevate critical voices, and advocate for equity through the unique pathways of the arts, history, and museum magic.

David's book list on memory that make you question how you see the past

David B. Allison Why did David love this book?

Dee Brown’s landmark 1970 book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee provided a beautiful and much-needed antidote to the ‘march of the pioneers’ and Manifest Destiny narratives that held sway over much of the history of the western United States from 1850s-1890.

Over time, however, Brown’s book (and more specifically the massacre at Wounded Knee) became calcified as the ‘end point’ of histories about indigenous people. Treuer challenges this perspective by showcasing native resistance, resilience, and flourishing in the wake of Wounded Knee. Indigenous history is deep, varied, and filled with fascinating people and events—Treuer shows us how to find hope and joy in history even though there is also profound pain.

By David Treuer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

FINALIST FOR THE 2019 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2020 ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Named a best book of 2019 by The New York Times, TIME, The Washington Post, NPR, Hudson Booksellers, The New York Public Library, The Dallas Morning News, and Library Journal.

"Chapter after chapter, it's like one shattered myth after another." - NPR

"An informed, moving and kaleidoscopic portrait... Treuer's powerful book suggests the need for soul-searching about the meanings of American history and the stories we tell ourselves about this nation's past.." - New York Times Book Review, front…


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 LaRose: A Novel

Lynne Hugo Author Of The Testament of Harold's Wife

From my list on families struggling to cope after sudden death.

Why am I passionate about this?

All my work--as a novelist and a licensed clinical therapist--deals with what happens in families, which sometimes includes overwhelming grief. But now, it hasn’t been long since I lost my own son. In these novels, I recognize a piece of myself as I, like any survivor, have struggled to cope. Like few other events in our lives, death has the possibility of completely derailing us with its brutality, and often surviving family cast about blindly, searching for sense, for meaning. Sometimes we can’t find any; sometimes we do, and sometimes we create it ourselves. These novels put different approaches into story, and that, too, is a way to search out direction--and hope.

Lynne's book list on families struggling to cope after sudden death

Lynne Hugo Why did Lynne love this book?

In her fifteenth novel, Erdrich, a member of the Ojibwe tribe, attempts to answer the question, “Can a person do the worst possible thing and still be loved?” by showing readers how native American parents living on a reservation cope when the father, Landreaux, accidentally kills his best friend’s five-year-old son in a hunting accident. Landreaux is distraught, wracked with horror, guilt, and grief. After consultation and attending a sweat, guided by an old native custom, he gives La Rose, his and his wife’s youngest child–whose best friend was the deceased–to the bereaved parents and siblings in a version of justice. It’s a twist on an eye for an eye, intended to equalize the suffering and prevent the escalation and further death that can occur when acts of grief-fueled revenge begin. Now both families are suffering unbearable loss, and so is LaRose, a five-year-old boy.

I don’t know if there’s…

By Louise Erdrich,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Late summer in North Dakota, 1999: Landreaux Iron stalks a deer along the edge of the property bordering his own. He shoots with easy confidence but only when he staggers closer does he realise he has killed his neighbour's son.

Dusty Ravich, the deceased boy, was best friends with Landreaux's five-year-old son, LaRose. The two families have been close for years and their children played together despite going to different schools. Landreaux is horrified at what he's done; fighting off his longstanding alcoholism, he ensconces himself in a sweat lodge and prays for guidance. And there he discovers an old…


Book cover of Tracks

Anton Treuer Author Of Where Wolves Don't Die

From my list on indigenous empowerment.

Why am I passionate about this?

I think about the positive identity development of Native youth all the time and not just because I am an educator and author. I love my Ojibwe language and culture, but I want to turn Native fiction on its head. We have so many stories about trauma and tragedy with characters who lament the culture that they were always denied. I want to show how vibrant and alive our culture still is. I want gripping stories where none of the Native characters are drug addicts, rapists, abused, or abusing others. I want to demonstrate the magnificence of our elders, the humor of our people, and the power of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Anton's book list on indigenous empowerment

Anton Treuer Why did Anton love this book?

I love this book because the characters Eli and Nector seem so familiar to me. The plot is full of tension, but the characters are genuinely humorous and affable, much like the elders I know across Ojibwe country.

This book also gives a window into Ojibwe culture. Louise Erdrich is a Pulitzer-prize-winning author, and this isn't even her biggest seller, but it's definitely my personal favorite. 

By Louise Erdrich,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Tracks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“[Erdrich] captures the passions, fears, myths, and doom of a living people, and she does so with an ease that leaves the reader breathless.”—The New Yorker

From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Louise Erdrich comes an arresting, lyrical novel set in North Dakota at a time when Indian tribes were struggling to keep what little remained of their lands.

Tracks is a tale of passion and deep unrest. Over the course of ten crucial years, as tribal land and trust between people erode ceaselessly, men and women are pushed to the brink of their endurance—yet their pride and humor…


Book cover of The Antelope Wife

Helen Benigni Author Of The Myth of the Year: Returning to the Origin of the Druid Calendar

From Helen's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Ecofeminist Comparative mythologist Hippie Hitch-hiker of the universe

Helen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Helen Benigni Why did Helen love this book?

Louise Erdrich’s novel, The Antelope Wife, focuses on a battered woman who turns to her ancient tribal beliefs in the spirits of Nature, and in particular, the antelopes of the prairie, to help her overcome abuse.

The Antelope Wife and the Antelope Goddesses are totem figures in Native American Mythology that symbolize freedom and independence, especially for those who are abused and beaten by their spouse.

The generations of Antelope women who follow the goddess are presented by Erdrich as strong, independent females who must overcome the hardships of life in the city by retaining their belief in themselves and their ability to overcome disaster.

The story is an uplifting tale of bravery and cunning that will inspire and comfort any reader who seeks guidance and those readers who simply yearn to see an example of fortitude and success in the face of danger. On a personal note, it’s a…

By Louise Erdrich,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Antelope Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Past and present combine in a contemporary tale of love and betrayal from Louise Erdrich, winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, 2012

'Everything is all knotted up in a tangle. Pull one string of this family and the whole web will tremble.'

Rozin and Richard, living in Minneapolis with their two young daughters, seem a long way from the traditions of their Native American ancestors. But when one of their acquaintances kidnaps a strange and silent young woman from a Native American camp and brings her back to live with him as his wife, the connections they all…


Book cover of As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance

Kimberly Mair Author Of The Biopolitics of Care in Second World War Britain

From my list on showing how care isn’t always a good thing.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like everyone else, I have life-long experience of caring and not caring for things; being sometimes careful and other times careless. Communication has been my central interest as a historical sociologist, and I’ve been considering its relationship to care (attachment, affection, worry, and burden) and security. I have always liked the word care, employing it often in the sense of warm attachment, but I have been looking at how care can at times enact control, violence, or abandonment.

Kimberly's book list on showing how care isn’t always a good thing

Kimberly Mair Why did Kimberly love this book?

With As We Have Always Done, I’m taking a bit of a different direction on my recommendation theme in that a negative and harmful form of care – the ongoing forms of dispossession exercised by the colonial Canadian state that has a profound attachment to an ever-encroaching extractive economy –  is a historically specific backdrop to a positive form of care.

Simpson, a Michi Saagig Nishnaabeg author, writes about Indigenous resistance and refusal intertwined with reciprocal and consensual forms of caregiving between peoples, non-human animals, rivers, forests, soil, air, and so forth. I have learned from this not only what gets left out of mainstream public discourse but, more so, the significance of shared values being grounded in profound interdependencies between many forms of life.

By Leanne Betasamosake Simpson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked As We Have Always Done as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner: Native American and Indigenous Studies Association's Best Subsequent Book 2017
Honorable Mention: Labriola Center American Indian National Book Award 2017


Across North America, Indigenous acts of resistance have in recent years opposed the removal of federal protections for forests and waterways in Indigenous lands, halted the expansion of tar sands extraction and the pipeline construction at Standing Rock, and demanded justice for murdered and missing Indigenous women. In As We Have Always Done, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson locates Indigenous political resurgence as a practice rooted in uniquely Indigenous theorizing, writing, organizing, and thinking.

Indigenous resistance is a radical rejection of…


Book cover of The Round House

Stephen L. Pevar Author Of The Rights of Indians and Tribes

From my list on rights of Indian tribes and their members.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1971, when I graduated from law school, I received a fellowship to help staff a Legal Aid office on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota. I lived there for nearly four years, representing tribal members in tribal, state, and federal courts. I then worked for 45 years on the National Legal Staff of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). One of my major responsibilities was helping Indian tribes and their members protect and enforce their rights, and I filed numerous cases on their behalf. During that time, I taught Federal Indian Law for more than 20 years and also published The Rights of Indians and Tribes. 

Stephen's book list on rights of Indian tribes and their members

Stephen L. Pevar Why did Stephen love this book?

This novel won the National Book Award and it’s easy to see why. Written by a Native author about reservation life, it discusses a crime that occurred that—like many reservation crimes—went unsolved for a long time.

The book is informative and compelling, and it weaves Native practices and culture into the story. I found it particularly interesting because it includes characters and themes that resonated with my experiences.

By Louise Erdrich,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Round House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the National Book Award • Washington Post Best Book of the Year • A New York Times Notable Book

From one of the most revered novelists of our time, an exquisitely told story of a boy on the cusp of manhood who seeks justice and understanding in the wake of a terrible crime that upends and forever transforms his family.

One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface because Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal…


Book cover of Warrior Girl Unearthed

Bradley W. Wright Author Of Infinity Blast and the Space Weapon of Doom

From Bradley's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Teacher Technologist Owl enthusiast Reader

Bradley's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Bradley W. Wright Why did Bradley love this book?

I read this book because I loved Fire Keeper’s Daughter. Boulley’s writing is gripping. Her characters are fully realized, and her fast-moving plots are unpredictable.

I have a middle-grade novel in production that is about my great-grandfather (Dakota/Ojibwe ancestry, born and raised in the Minnesota territory). While writing the book, I read every middle-grade and YA novel I could find by native writers.

This YA novel told a great story and told it well. It was good to catch up with the characters from Fire Keeper’s Daughter and learn more about the protagonist, Perry—a great character with a strongly rendered personality.

By Angeline Boulley,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Warrior Girl Unearthed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

A Financial Times Best YA Summer Book 2023

#1 New York Times bestselling author Angeline Boulley takes us back into the world of Firekeeper's Daughter in this high-stakes mystery about the power of discovering your stolen history.

HONOUR YOUR ROOTS. BREAK THE RULES. UNCOVER THE TRUTH.

Perry Firekeeper-Birch has always known who she is - the laid-back twin, the troublemaker, the best fisher on Sugar Island. Whilst her overachieving sister works away at an internship, Perry's holiday plans mostly involve doing absolutely nothing.

But her carefree summer is brought to an abrupt end when she meets 'Warrior Girl', a Native…


Book cover of Centering Anishinaabeg Studies: Understanding the World through Stories

Justin Jaron Lewis Author Of Imagining Holiness: Classic Hasidic Tales in Modern Times

From my list on people telling each other stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

Nearly forty years ago, as a young poet, I started going to a storytelling circle in Toronto, thinking it would be a good venue to recite my poems. What I heard there awakened something in me. When I was a child, my parents read me wonder tales, and I soon began to read them on my own. Now I was hearing these stories, the way they were heard for millennia before anyone wrote them down. Today, I am a storyteller, I am married, and I am a professor who teaches a course on storytelling and writes about stories – all because of those weekly gatherings years ago and the storytellers there.

Justin's book list on people telling each other stories

Justin Jaron Lewis Why did Justin love this book?

This is a book about stories of the land I live on.

My home is in Winnipeg, on the edge of the flatland called “the Prairies” in Canada and “the Great Plains” in the United States. But the land doesn’t care about the Canada-US border. And that border is nothing but an imposition on the older nations whose territory I live in: the Red River Métis, and the Anishinaabeg.

These Indigenous Peoples have ancient living traditions of oral storytelling, and this book, by Anishinaabeg scholars, celebrates their stories’ spiritual, practical, and political power.

A teaching shared by storyteller Kathleen Delores Westcott tells us “the story is a living being. It’s alive.” That teaching has helped me to understand how stories attract us, get inside us, change, and move across boundaries. 

By Jill Doerfler (editor), Niigaanwew James Sinclair (editor), Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For the Anishinaabeg people, who span a vast geographic region from the Great Lakes to the Plains and beyond, stories are vessels of knowledge. They are bagijiganan, offerings of the possibilities within Anishinaabeg life. Existing along a broad narrative spectrum, from aadizookaanag (traditional or sacred narratives) to dibaajimowinan (histories and news) - as well as everything in between - storytelling is one of the central practices and methods of individual and community existence. Stories create and understand, survive and endure, revitalize and persist. They honour the past, recognise the present, and provide visions of the future.

In remembering, (re)making, and…


Book cover of The Falcon

K. B. Laugheed Author Of The Spirit Keeper

From my list on the destruction of North America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love America. I was born here, I live here, and I will die here. Like Walt Whitman, I am mad for this place, and I treasure the soil beneath my feet, the water I drink, and the air I breathe. Unfortunately, the soil I love so much has been marinated in the blood of previous generations, the water I drink is filled with the filthy effluent of a greedy, industry-centered culture, and the air I breathe is bitter, choking me with cancer-causing toxins. Why do I care so much about books that describe the destruction of the North American continent? Because the destruction has not stopped!!!!!!!!

K. B.'s book list on the destruction of North America

K. B. Laugheed Why did K. B. love this book?

The Falcon was one of the many books I studied while researching The Spirit Keeper, and John Tanner’s contemporary description of life among the Ojibwa continues to haunt me. Although captivity narratives were once very popular in America, Tanner did not achieve fame or fortune from his life story. What he did achieve, however, was a clear record of the steady destruction of the rich and varied native cultures of North America as Colonial forces slowly eroded the entire ecosystem of the continent. Because this story was written shortly after the events described, it’s a challenging read, but once you get into the rhythm of the 19th century language, you won’t be able to put the book down.

By John Tanner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

John Tanner's fascinating autobiography tells the story of a man torn between white society and the Native Americans with whom he identified.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.