Indigenous Voices for Adults

To honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Happy Valley librarians have selected the following books that might serve as an introduction to a rich and diverse heritage of fiction, nonfiction, history, poetry, memoir, and more by and about Indigenous peoples in the United States.

Updated September 25, 2023
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Braiding sweetgrass
Kimmerer, Robin Wall
A New York Times Bestseller A Washington Post Bestseller Named a "Best Essay Collection of the Decade" by Literary Hub As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member...
Night of the living rez
Talty, Morgan
NATIONAL BESTSELLER Winner of the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection New England Book Award Winner, Fiction A Finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Fiction, The Story Prize, B&N Discover Book Prize A New York...
Calling for a blanket dance : a novel
Hokeah, Oscar
Winner of the PEN America/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel * Finalist for the 2023 Aspen Words Literary Prize * Finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize/Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction   "A profound reflection on the intergenerational nature of cultural trauma....
As long as grass grows : the indigenous fight for environmental justice, from colonization to Standing Rock
Gilio-Whitaker, Dina
The story of Native peoples' resistance to environmental injustice and land incursions, and a call for environmentalists to learn from the Indigenous community's rich history of activism Through the unique lens of "Indigenized environmental justice," Indigenous researcher and...
Antelope Woman : a novel
Erdrich, Louise.
This updated edition of National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Louise Erdrich's 1998 novel now features fascinating new content, a new title, and a new foreword by the author--a riveting story that explores tensions between Native American and white cultures. ...
A minor chorus : a novel
Belcourt, Billy-Ray
In the stark expanse of Northern Alberta, a queer Indigenous doctoral student steps away from his dissertation to write a novel, informed by a series of poignant encounters: a heart-to-heart with fellow doctoral student River over the mounting pressure placed on marginalized scholars; a meeting...
Petroglyphs : ancient language/sacred art
Moore, Sabra.
Looking at the range, diversity and location of petroglyphs, this book records many sites that are endangered, damaged or destroyed. As many sites fall victim to vandal or bulldozer, it is the author's hope that greater public awareness will save a fragile and irreplaceable heritage.
Living nations, living words : an anthology of first peoples poetry
Harjo, Joy
Joy Harjo, the first Native poet to serve as U.S. Poet Laureate, has championed the voices of Native peoples past and present. Her signature laureate project gathers the work of contemporary Native poets into a national, fully digital map of story, sound, and space, celebrating their vital and...
Probably Ruby : a novel
Bird-Wilson, Lisa
An Indigenous woman adopted by white parents goes in search of her identity in this unforgettable debut novel about family, race, and history. Finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award * "Engaging . . . Ruby never disappoints with her big heart and outrageous sense of...
White magic : essays
Washuta, Elissa
Throughout her life, Elissa Washuta has been surrounded by cheap facsimiles of Native spiritual tools and occult trends, "starter witch kits" of sage, rose quartz, and tarot cards packaged together in paper and plastic. Following a decade of abuse, addiction, PTSD, and heavy-duty drug treatment...
Canyon dreams : a basketball season on the Navajo Nation
Powell, Michael
The moving story of a Navajo high school basketball team, its members struggling with the everyday challenges of high school, adolescence, and family, and the great and unique obstacles facing Native Americans living on reservations.   Deep in the heart of northern Arizona,...
The Lakota way : stories and lessons for living
Marshall, Joseph
A member of the Sicunga Lakota Sioux and a descendant of the legendary warrior Crazy Horse, Joseph Marshall has dedicated his entire life to spiritual fulfillment and teaching to others the essence of the Lakota wisdom. As a child, he learned from his grandfather: "Insults can hurt, but only if you...
Carry : a memoir of survival on stolen land
Jensen, Toni
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS' CHOICE * A powerful, poetic memoir about what it means to exist as an Indigenous woman in America, told in snapshots of the author's encounters with gun violence. Finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize * Goop Book Club Pick *...
Bad Cree : a novel
Johns, Jessica
In this gripping, horror-laced debut, a young Cree woman's dreams lead her on a perilous journey of self-discovery that ultimately forces her to confront the toll of a legacy of violence on her family, her community and the land they call home. "A mystery and a horror story about...
Birding while Indian : a mixed-blood memoir
Gannon, Thomas C.
Winner, 2024 Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize "A fascinating search for personal and cultural identity." --Kirkus Thomas C. Gannon's Birding While Indian spans more than fifty years of...
The journey of Crazy Horse : a Lakota history
Marshall, Joseph
Most of the world remembers Crazy Horse as a peerless warrior who brought the U.S. Army to its knees at the Battle of Little Bighorn. But to his fellow Lakota Indians, he was a dutiful son and humble fighting man who—with valor, spirit, respect, and unparalleled leadership—fought for his people’s...
This is paradise : stories
Kahakauwila, Kristiana.
Elegant, brutal, and profound-this magnificent debut captures the grit and glory of modern Hawai'i with breathtaking force and accuracy. In a stunning collection that announces the arrival of an incredible talent, Kristiana Kahakauwila travels the islands of Hawai'i,...
Crossings : a doctor-soldier's story
Kerstetter, Jon
In Iraq, as a medic and officer, Jon Kerstetter balanced two impossibly conflicting imperatives--to heal and to kill. When he suffered an injury and then a stroke during his third tour, he wound up back home in Iowa, no longer able to be either a doctor or a soldier. In this gorgeous memoir that...
The removed : a novel
Hobson, Brandon
"A haunted work, full of voices old and new. It is about a family's reckoning with loss and injustice, and it is about a people trying for the same. The journey of this family's way home is full--in equal measure--of melancholy and love." --Tommy Orange, author of There There ...
Empire of wild : a novel
Dimaline, Cherie
"Deftly written, gripping and informative. Empire of Wild is a rip-roaring read!"--Margaret Atwood, From Instagram "Empire of Wild is doing everything I love in a contemporary novel and more. It is tough, funny, beautiful, honest and propulsive--all the while telling a...
Apple : skin to the core : a memoir in words and pictures
Gansworth, Eric
Winner of the American Indian Youth Literature Award Printz Honor Winner National Book Award Longlist TIME 10 Best YA and Children's Books of the Year NPR Best of the Year Shelf Awareness Best of the Year Publishers Weekly Big Indie Books of...
The rediscovery of America : native peoples and the unmaking of U.S. history
Blackhawk, Ned
National Bestseller   Winner of the 2023 National Book Award in Nonfiction * Finalist for the 2023 Los Angeles Times Book Award in History * Winner of 2024 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Nonfiction * Winner of the 2024 Mark...
Winter in the blood
Welch, James
A contemporary classic from a major writer of the Native American renaissance -- "Brilliant, brutal and, in my opinion, Welch's best work." --Tommy Orange, The Washington Post One of The Atlantic's Great American Novels of the Past 100 Years ...
Sabrina & Corina : stories
Fajardo-Anstine, Kali
Kali Fajardo-Anstine's magnetic story collection breathes life into her Indigenous Latina characters and the land they inhabit. Set against the remarkable backdrop of Denver, Colorado-a place that is as fierce as it is exquisite-these women navigate the land the way they navigate their lives- with...
Woman of light : a novel
Fajardo-Anstine, Kali
NATIONAL BESTSELLER * A "dazzling, cinematic, intimate, lyrical" (Roxane Gay) epic of betrayal, love, and fate that spans five generations of an Indigenous Chicano family in the American West, from the author of the National Book Award finalist Sabrina & Corina  ...
Gathering moss : a natural and cultural history of mosses
Kimmerer, Robin Wall.
Living at the limits of our ordinary perception, mosses are a commonbut largely unnoticed element of the natural world. GatheringMoss is a beautifully written mix of science and personalreflection that invites readers to explore and learn from the elegantlysimple lives of mosses.
The things she's seen
Kwaymullina, Ambelin
This brilliantly written thriller explores the lives--and deaths--of two girls, and what they will do to win justice. Sure to be one of the most talked-about books of the year! Nothing's been the same for Beth Teller since the day she died. Her dad is drowning in...
Don't fear the reaper
Jones, Stephen Graham
A Locus Award Finalist December 12th, 2019, Jade returns to the rural lake town of Proofrock the same day as convicted Indigenous serial killer Dark Mill South escapes into town to complete his revenge killings, in this riveting sequel to My Heart Is a Chainsaw from...
Too much lip : a novel
Lucashenko, Melissa
A gritty and darkly hilarious novel quaking with life--winner of Australia's Miles Franklin Award--that follows a queer, First Nations Australian woman as she returns home to face her family and protect the land of their ancestors. Wise-cracking Kerry Salter has spent her adulthood...
There there
Orange, Tommy
PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST * NATIONAL BESTSELLER * A wondrous and shattering award-winning novel that follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. A contemporary classic, this...
Dog flowers : a memoir
Geller, Danielle
A daughter returns home to the Navajo reservation to retrace her mother's life in a memoir that is both a narrative and an archive of one family's troubled history.   "A candid and achingly fractured memoir of [Geller's] mother, her family, her Navajo heritage and her own...
A history of my brief body
Belcourt, Billy-Ray
Lambda Literary Award, Finalist / "A Best Book of 2020" --Kirkus Reviews, Book Riot, CBC, Globe and Mail, Largehearted Boy. "Stunning... Happiness, this beautiful book says, is the ultimate act of resistance." --Michelle Hart, O, The Oprah Magazine The youngest ever winner of...
The heartbeat of Wounded Knee : life in Native America
Treuer, David
The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee is a story of Native American resilience and reinvention, adapted for young adults from the adult nonfiction book of the same name. Since the late 1800s, it has been believed that Native American civilization has been wiped from the...

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