First Nations is pleased to announce its new Indigenous reading campaign called #NativeReads. #NativeReads will honor and celebrate Indigenous writers from a specific tribe or region.

For more than 200 years, Native literatures have been shaped and influenced by individuals from outside our tribal communities. First Nations firmly believes that it is time for citizens of sovereign tribal nations to define and articulate their own literary traditions.

To learn more about the #NativeReads campaign, download the brochure here.

For the inaugural year of #NativeReads, First Nations partnered with the Oak Lake Writers Society (Society) to increase knowledge and appreciation of Oceti Sakowin (Dakota, Lakota and Nakota) literatures. Because of the devastating effects of colonization, few people recognize that the Oceti Sakowin have their own rich and complex literary traditions. In 2019, the Society compiled a list of nearly 200 books by Dakota, Lakota and Nakota writers that disproves and challenges this false assumption. For more information about the Society’s publications and how to support its work, visit

  • To learn more about how the Oak Lake Writers Society picked the 10 books featured in the #NativeReads campaign, download the brochure here.
  • You can also download our children’s book list by Oceti Sakowin authors here.
  • The Oak Lake Writers Society and The Red Nation Podcast are also producing a series of 12 episodes on the Stories of the Oceti Sakowin initiative. To access the podcasts, visit here and enter #NativeReads in the search field.

Please note, many of books featured below are available for purchase at Native-owned Word Carrier. Other books may only be available from the publisher and may take longer to receive.

Our 10 Featured Books 

In The Lakota Way, Joseph Marshall III shares 12 cultural and spiritual lessons that he learned from his Sicangu Lakota grandparents.

  • Download the discussion guide for The Lakota Way here.


Ella Deloria’s Waterlily is a fictional account of Teton life before white encroachment. This beautifully written novel challenges negative stereotypes to provide an uplifting representation of the Oceti Sakowin. Deloria’s novel was published posthumously in 1988.

Available at Word Carrier

  • Download the discussion guide for Waterlily here.

Charles Eastman or Ohiyesa was one of the first Dakota students to attend boarding school. During his lifetime, he published more than a dozen books about Oceti Sakowin culture and history, including his 1911 book The Soul of the Indian, which focuses on Oceti Sakowin spirituality pre-missionary contact.

  • Download the discussion guide for The Soul of the Indian here.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Josephine Waggoner grew increasingly concerned that Oceti Sakowin cultures and histories were being lost as elders passed away. To address this gap, she interviewed Dakota/Lakota chiefs, elders and historians. In 2013, Waggoner’s family published her life’s work as the 824-page book Witness.

Available at Word Carrier

  • Download the discussion guide for Witness here.

In 1953, Congress passed Public Law 83-280 to destroy the Lakota politically by eliminating their legal sovereignty. In Not Without Our Consent, Ed Valandra carefully documents Lakota resistance to termination.

  • Download the discussion guide for Not Without Our Consent here.

How You Can Make a Difference

Your donation to First Nations helps us continue to elevate Native voices and fight stereotypes and wrongful narratives, such as we are doing with the #NativeReads campaign. Thank you!

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In 1969, Vine Deloria, Jr., published his seminal book Custer Died for Your Sins. During his lifetime, Deloria published more than 20 books on Native American cultures, histories and politics.

Available at Word Carrier

  • Download the discussion guide for Custer Died for Your Sins here.

Anti-Indianism in Modern America by Elizabeth Cook-Lynn is a collection of essays that expose and deconstruct recurring Native American stereotypes in art and politics.

  • Download the discussion guide for Anti-Indianism in Modern America here.

In Memory Songs, Lydia Whirlwind Soldier reimagines the oral tradition as poetry to express what it means to have Lakol Wicoun, “the Lakota way of being.”

Available at Word Carrier

  • Download the discussion guide for Memory Songs here.

In 2011, Layli Long Soldier published Whereas. In this book of poetry, Long Soldier experiments with language (both English and Lakota) and literary conventions (both oral and written) to critique settler colonialism, racism and misogyny.

Available at Word Carrier

  • Download the discussion guide for Whereas here.

In 2019, Nick Estes published Our History is the Future, an award-winning book that recounts 10 months of Indigenous resistance at Standing Rock. In 2016, hundreds of tribal nations, led by the Oceti Sakowin, came together in solidarity to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline and hundreds of years of injustice against Indigenous people and communities.

Available at Word Carrier

  • Download the discussion guide for Our History is the Future here.
  • Read the Q&A Interview of Nick Estes here.
  • BONUS READ: Get a bonus excerpt and discussion guide from Nick Estes’s upcoming publication Allotment Stories. Download it here.

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Tribal Retreat Provides Creative Space for Oceti Sakowin Writers

This year, the Oak Lake Writers’ Society annual Tribal Writing Retreat shifted to a virtual format, welcoming even more Oceti Sakowin writers and expanding the reach of this first-of-its-kind writers’ platform.

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