The staff members of First Nations Development Institute have compiled a list of what they consider to be essential reading for anyone interested in the Native American experience.

Certain entries on the list are boldfaced, indicating that the employees of First Nations consider them to be “a good place to start.”

“Many of us here – as Native Americans, avid readers, activists for improving Native American economies and communities, and as direct participants in the Native American experience – believe that we are uniquely positioned to suggest this reading list,” said First Nations President & CEO Michael Roberts. “We attempted to include many facets of the Native American experience, as well as books and research reports that would be of interest to a broad variety of readers.”

To review the reading suggestions below, simply click on the category name and a drop-down list will appear. To close any category list, just click on the category name again. 

View a separate Recommended Reading List for Children and Young People

View list

History/Politics

Bordewich, Fergus M. Killing The White Man’s Indian; The Reinvention of Native Americans at the End of the 20th Century. New York: Anchor; 1st Anchor Books Trade Pbk. Ed edition, 1997.

Boye, Alan. Holding Stone Hands: On the Trail of the Cheyenne Exodus. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.

Brown, Dee. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. New York: Owl Books, 2001.

Cahn, Edgar S. and David W. Hearne. Our Brother’s Keeper: The Indian in White America. Cincinnati: New Community Press, 1972.

Cornell, Stephen. The Return of the Native: American Indian Political Resurgence. New York: Oxford Press, 1998.

Deloria, Vine. Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1969.

Deloria, Vine Jr. and Clifford M. Lytle. American Indians, American Justice. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983.

Deloria, Vine and David Wilkins. Tribes, Treaties, and Constitutional Tribulations. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999.

Deloria, Vine Jr. Red Earth, White Lies: Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact. Golden: Fulcrum Publishing; Reissue edition, 1997.

Denetdale, Jennifer Nez. Reclaiming Diné History: The Legacies of Navajo Chief Manuelito and Juanita. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2007.

Demos, John Putnam. The Unredeemed Captive. New York: Vintage, 1995

Dorris, Michael and Louise Erdrich. The Broken Cord: A Family’s Ongoing Struggle with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. London: Harper Perennial, 1989.

Dorris, Michael. Morning Girl. New York: Hyperion, 1999.

Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne and Dina Gilio-Whitaker. “All the Real Indians Died Off” and 20 Other Myths about Native Americans. Boston: Beacon Press, 2016.

Echo-Hawk, Walter, R.  In the Light of Justice: The Rise of Human Rights in Native America and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  Golden:  Fulcrum Publishing, 2013.

Echo-Hawk, Walter, R.  In the Courts of the Conqueror:  The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided.  Golden:  Fulcrum Publishing, 2010.

Fleming, Walter. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Native American History. Royersford: Alpha Publishing, 2003.

Howe, Craig and Kim TallBear. eds. This Stretch of the River: Lakota, Dakota, & Nakota Responses to the Lewis & Clark Expedition and Bicentennial. Rapid City: Oak Lake Writers’ Society, 2006.

Johnson, Troy, ed. Contemporary Native American Political Issues. Walnut Creek: Alta Mira Press, 1999.

Limerick, Patricia Nelson. The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West. New York: W. W. Norton, 1987.

Lyons, Oren. Exiled in the Land of the Free: Democracy, Indian Nations & the U.S. Constitution. Santa Fe: Clear Light Books, 1992.

Mason, Dale. Indian Gaming: Tribal Sovereignty and American Politics. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000.

McCool, Daniel. Native Waters – Contemporary Indian Water Settlements and the Second Treaty Era. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 2002.

Meyer, John ed. American Indians and U.S. Politics: A Companion Reader. Westport: Praeger Paperback, 2002.

Neihardt, John. Black Elk Speaks. Lincoln: Bison Books, 2004.

O’Brien, Sharon. American Indian Tribal Governments. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989.

O’Brien, Sharon. Roots of Resistance: Land Tenure in New Mexico1680-1980. Los Angeles: University of California, 1980.

O’Brien, Sharon. Indians of the Americas: Human Rights and Self-Determination. New York: Zed Books, 1984.

Prucha, Francis Paul. Documents of United State IndiansLincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000.

Sale, Kirkpatrick. Conquest of Paradise. New York: Plume, 1991.

Smith, Andrea. Conquest: Sexual Violence And American Indian Genocide. Boulder: South End Press, 2005.

Stannard, David. American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Sullivan, Robert. A Whale Hunt: How a Native-American Village Did What No One Thought It Could. New York: Scribner, 2002.

Weatherford, Jack. Indian Givers. New York: Ballantine Books, 1989

Wilkins, David E. and K. Tsianina Lomawaima. Uneven Ground: American Indian Sovereignty and Federal Law. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001.

Wilkins, David E. American Indian Politics and the American Political System.  Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2002.

Wilkins, David E. American Indian Sovereignty and the U.S. Supreme Court: The Masking of Justice. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997.

Wilkinson, Charles. American Indians, Time, and the Law. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987.

Wilkinson, Charles. Blood Struggle. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005.

Wittstock Waterman, Laura and Dick Bancroft. We Are Still Here: A Photographic History of the American Indian Movement. St. Paul: Borealis Books, 2013.

Economic Development

Cornell, Stephen, and Joseph Kalt. What Can Tribes Do? Los Angeles: American Indian Studies Center, 1997.

Fixico, Donals. L. The Invasion of Indian Country in the Twentieth Century: American Capitalism and Tribal Natural Resources. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998.

Ortiz, Roxanne Dunbar. Economic Development in American Indian Reservations. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1978.

Popular History

Colten, Larry. Counting Coup – about a girls basketball team in Montana. Clayton: Warner Books, 2000.

Frazier, Ian. On the Rez. New York: Picador, 2001.

Jenkins, Sally. The Real All Americans. New York: Doubleday, 2007.

McAuliff, Dennis. Bloodland: A Family Story of Oil, Greed and Murder on the Osage Reservation. Tulsa: Council Oak Books, 1999. 
(Formerly titled, The Mysterious Deaths of Sybil Bolton.)

Wilkinson, Charles. The Eagle Bird. D.C.: Island Press, 1999.
(See the chapter three: Shall the Islands be Preserved.)

Wilkinson, Charles. Fire on the Plateau. D.C.: Island Press, 1999.
(About the Navajo Peabody Coal case.)

Culture

Chapman, Searle. We, the People: Of Earth and Elders, Vol. II. Missoula: Bear Print, 2001.

Cook-Lynn, Elizabeth. Why I Can’t Red Wallace Stegner and other Essays: A Tribal Voice. Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1996

Cook-Lynn, Elizabeth. Anti-Indianism in Modern AmericaA Voice From Tatekeya’s Earth. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2001.

Cook-Lynn, Elizabeth. New Indians, Old Wars. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007.

Cook-Lynn, Elizabeth. Notebooks of Elizabeth Cook-Lynn. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2007.

Deloria, Jr., Vine. God is Red. Golden: Fulcrum Publishing, 2003.

Deloria, Philip. Playing Indian. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.

Fitzgerald, Judith, Fitzgerald, Michael Oren. The Spirit of Indian Women. Bloomington: World Wisdom, 2005.

Fixico, D. The American Indian Mind in a Linear World: American Indian Studies and Traditional Knowledge. Oxford: Routledge, 2003.

Loewen, James. W. Lies My Teacher Told Me. New York: Touchstone, 1996.

Mankiller, Wilma. Every Day is a Good Day. Golden: Fulcrum Publishing, 2004.

Mihesuah, Devon A. Repatriation Reader: Who Owns American Indian Remains? Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000.

Mihesuah, Devon A. American Indians: Stereotypes & Realities. Atlanta: Clarity Press, 1996.

Mihesuah, Devon A. Indigenous American Women. Decolonization, Empowerment and Activism. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003.

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. New York: Zed Books, 2004.

Trafzer, Clifford. Native Universe: Voices of Indian America. New York: National Geographic, 2004.

Treuer, Anton. Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask. St. Paul: MHS Press (Minnesota Historical Society), 2012

Waggoner, Josephine and editor Emily Levine. Witness: A Húŋkpapha Historian’s Strong-Heart Song of the Lakotas. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2013.

Wall, Steve & Arden, Harvey. Wisdom Keepers: Meetings with Native American Spiritual Elders. First Glance Books, 1990.

Waziyatawin Angela Wilson and Carolyn Schommer Wahpetunwin. Remember This! Dakota Decolonization and the Eli Taylor Narratives. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005.

Weatherford, Jack. Native Roots. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992.

Imagery

Berkhofer, Robert F. The White Man’s Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the PresentNew York: Vintage, 1979.

Meyer, Carter Jones and Diana Royer eds. Selling the Indian: Commercializing and Appropriating American Indian Cultures. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2001.

Raibmon , PaigeAuthentic Indians: Episodes of Encounter from the Late-Nineteenth-Century Northwest Coast A John Hope Franklin Center BookDurham: Duke University Press, 2005.

Spindel, Carol. Dancing at Halftime: Sports and the Controversy over American Indian MascotsNew York: NYU Press, 2000.

International

Kane, JoeSavages Oil company in Ecuadorial Amazon in Huaorani Territory. New York: Vintage, 1996.

Novels/Fiction

Orange, Tommy. There There. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018.

Barnett, Louise K., James L. Thorson, and Robert F. GishLeslie Marmon Silko: A Collection of Critical EssaysAlbuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2001.

Dorris, Michael. Yellow Raft in Blue Water. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1987

Erdrich, Louise. Love Medicine. London: Harper Perennial, 1993.

Erdrich, Louise. Beet Queen. London: Harper Perennial, 2006.

Erdrich, Louise. Tracks. London: Harper Perennial, 2004.

Erdrich, Louise. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. London: Flamingo, 2002.

Erdrich, Louise. Bingo Palace. London: Harper Perennial, 2006.

Erdrich, Louise. Painted Drum. London: Harper Perennial, 2006.

Erdrich, Louise. Master Butcher Singing Club. London: HarperCollins, 2003. (About her German ancestry.)

Erdrich, Louise & Dorris, Michael. The Crown of Columbus, London: Harper Perennial, 1999.
(Written with Michael Dorris on the quincentenary of of Columbus’arrival.)

Fikes, Jay C. & Echo-Hawk, Walter, Reuben Snake, Your Humble Serpent. Santa Fe: Clear Light Books, 1998.

Harjo, Joy & Bird, Gloria. Reinventing the Enemy’s Language. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1998.

Hogan, Linda. Mean Spirit. New York: Ivy Books, 1991.

Hogan, Linda. Solar Storms. New York: Scribner, 1994.

Ihimaera, Witi. Whale Rider. San Diego: Harcourt Paperbacks, 2003.

Power, Susan. The Grass Dancer. New York: Berkley, 1995.

Rosen, Kenneth. The Man to Send Rain Clouds: Contemporary Stories by American IndiansNew York: Penguin, 1992.

Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. New York: Penguin, 1986.

Welch, James. Indian Lawyer. New York: W. W. Norton, 2007.

Education

Adams, David Wallace. Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1995.

Benham, Maenetter and Wayne Stein. The Renaissance of American Indian Higher Education: Capturing the Dream. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2003.

Deloria, Vine and Dan Wildcat. Power and Place: American Indian Education in America. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Press, 2001.

Four Arrows Don Trent Jacobs ed. Unlearning the Language of Conquest: Scholars Expose Anti-Indianism in America. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006.

Mann, Henrietta. Cheyenne-Arapaho Education, 1871-1981. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 1997.

Mihesuah, Devon A. Natives and Academics: Researching and Writing about American Indians. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.

Mihesuah, Devon A. Indigenizing the Academy: Transforming Scholarship and Empowering Communities. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004.

Mosionier, Beatrice culleton. In Search of April Raintree about Metis foster children in Canada. Winnipeg: Portage & Main Press, 1999.

Szasz, Margaret Cornnell. Education and The American Indian: The Road to Self-Determination Since 1928. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1999.

Swisher, Karen Gayton and John Tippeconnic, eds. Next Steps: Research and Practice to Advance Indian Education. Charleston, WV: Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, 1996.

Reference Books

Pevar, Stephen. The Rights of Indians and Tribes: The Basic ACLU Guide to Indian and Tribal Rights. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2002.

Tiller, Velarde Tiller and Daniel K. Inouye. Tiller’s Guide to Indian Country: Economic Profiles of American Indian Reservations. Casino City: Casino Press, 2006.

Academic Journals

American Indian Culture and Research Journal

American Indian Quarterly

Journal of American Indian Education

Canadian Journal of Native Studies

Journal of Indigenous Nations Studies

Wicazo Sa Review

Legal Resources

Uneven Ground: American Indian Sovereignty and Federal Law, by David E. Wilkins, American Indian Law in a Nutshell 4th edition: 2004 / by William C. Canby, Jr.

Cases and Materials on Federal Indian Law 5th Edition: 2005, by David H. Getches, Charles F. Wilkinson, Robert A. Williams, Jr. Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law: 2005 edition.

The Rights of Indians and Tribes: The Authoritative ACLU Guide to Indian and Tribal Rights 3rd Edition: 2002 / by Stephen L. Pevar.

American Indian Law Deskbook 2nd Edition: 1998 / Conference of Western Attorneys General.

Poetry

Recommendations are from Inupiaq poet Joan Naviyuk Kane, who has authored seven books and chapbooks of poetry and prose: The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife, Hyperboreal, The Straits, Milk Black Carbon, A Few Lines in the Manifest, Sublingual and Another Bright Departure. Honors for her work include a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, the Whiting Writer’s Award, an American Book Award, and the Donald Hall Prize in Poetry. She was a judge for the 2017 awards of the Griffin Poetry Prize. A graduate of Harvard and Columbia, she is Inupiaq with family from King Island and Mary’s Igloo, Alaska. She raises her sons in Anchorage as a single mother, and teaches in the low-residency MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Sherwin Bitsui’s Dissolve (Copper Canyon Press, 2018)
“Bitsui’s poetry returns things to their basic elements and voice in a flowing language rife with illuminating images. A great reading experience for those who like serious and innovative poetry.” ― Library Journal

Abilgail Chabitnoy’s How to Dress a Fish (Wesleyan University Press, 2018)
“This essential and captivating debut, ‘How to Dress a Fish,’ will draw readers into intersections of history, memory, exile and return. Abigail Chabitnoy’s poems are tender and direct ― they restore worlds, mend fragmented histories by revealing our human longing for land and for memories embraced in language.” ― Sherwin Bitsui

Santee Frazier’s Aurum (University of Arizona Press, 2019)
“’Aurum’s’ lyric setting provokes narrative, as in the poems ‘Lode’ and ‘Half-Life,’ just as they enact metaphoric process, as in ‘Matins,’ where ‘the yonder is burnt orange.’ We are given the mangled poems, and language, and density — then density of language, of meaning, and relation. Thus, Frazier’s poetic indigeneity is neither framed nor calibrated in a rote or calculated way: of course not. Its concerns cadences surpass those of mere decipherment of the tale. ‘Aurum’ is extraordinary. It changes the language that its readers may speak.” — Joan Naviyuk Kane

Carrie Ojanen’s Roughly for the North (University of Alaska Press, 2018)
“If you lack bright wonder and sorrow dulls your heart, this collection will bring new life.” — Deborah Magpie Earling

Jake Skeets’ Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers (Milkweed Editions, 2019)
“Sculptural, ambitious, and defiantly vulnerable, the poems of ‘Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers’ are coal that remains coal, despite the forces that conspire for diamond, for electricity.” — National Poetry Series Citation