A Changing World: American Indian Heritage

As explorers and settlers made their way from coast to coast, American Indians across the continent faced a dramatically changing world. With honesty, sensitivity, and even an occasional touch of humor, these books tell the stories of people living in uncertain times, challenged to preserve their way of life and inspired to seek friendship in unexpected places.

Daughter of Suqua

Illustrated by: Paul Micich
Age Level: Middle Grade

"It is 1905, and Ida, 10, lives with her parents and grandmother among their people, the Suquamish, on an island off the coast of Washington. The story revolves around their struggle to maintain their identity; first as a family, and second as a tribe when the U.S. government resettles them on allotted lands and enrolls their children in 'American' schools. Readers will identify with Ida's need to be with her friends and family and her despair over being sent away to a white boarding school.

A Coyote Columbus Story

Illustrated by: William Kent Monkman
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: Coyote rules her world, until a funny-looking stranger named Columbus (looking for humans to sell in Spain) changes her plans. Thomas King uses a bag of literary tricks to shatter the stereotypes surrounding Columbus's voyages, inviting children to laugh at the crazy antics of Coyote, who unwittingly allows Columbus to engineer the downfall of his human friends.

A River Lost

Illustrated by: Virgil Marchand
Age Level: Middle Grade

When the Grand Coulee Dam was built, the lives of the Arrow Lakes Tribe were changed forever. Sinee mat and her great-grandmother Toopa tell the story of life on the Columbia River before and after the dam. This important piece of Pacific Northwest history is beautifully illustrated by Virgil Smoker Marchand, a member of the Arrow Lakes Band of the Colville Confederated Tribes.

Adventures of Rabbit and Bear Paws: The Sugar Bush (vol. I)

This comic book is the first volume in a series set in 18th-century colonized North America and based on traditional teachings of the Anishinabek. We follow the story of two mischievous Ojibwe brothers as they play pranks and have amazing adventures using a traditional Ojibwe medicine that transforms them into animals for a short time. The authors include members of the Salteaux and Henvey Inlet First Nations. Additional volumes are available through the Rabbit and Bear Paws website.

Bad River Boys: A Meeting of the Lakota Sioux with Lewis and Clark

Illustrated by: Bill Farnsworth
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: Much has been written about the 1803-1806 Lewis and Clark expedition, but few authors have considered the effect it had on the Native Americans already inhabiting the "uncharted" territory it explored. Basing her story on actual events noted by William Clark, Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve tells a fictional account of the encounter from the point of view of three young Lakota boys. Her story explores the wariness and misunderstanding each side experienced and the trouble that ensued. Historical notes and a glossary are included.

Belle of Batoche

Product Description: Belle, an 11-year-old Métis girl, and Sarah both want to become the ringer of the new church bell in the Saskatchewan settlement of Batoche. They enter an embroidery contest to win the position. Then General Middleton's forces advance on Batoche in Canada's historic 1885 Riel Rebellion, and Belle and Sarah must work together to save themselves and their families.

Black Elk's Vision: A Lakota Story

Age Level: Middle Grade

"This handsomely designed, large-format book tells the story of Black Elk (1863—1950), a Lakota man who saw many changes come to his people. In this first-person, present-tense account, Black Elk says that as a nine-year-old boy, he is blessed with a Great Vision. At 12, he fights in the Battle of Little Bighorn. After traveling in Europe with Buffalo Bill's Wild West show and, later, experiencing the massacre at Wounded Knee, he retreats to a reservation, where he holds his vision in his heart and offers it to others." — Booklist

Buffalo Song

Illustrated by: Bill Farnsworth
Age Level: 6-9

For thousands of years, massive herds of buffalo roamed across much of North America, but by the 1870s, fewer than fifteen hundred animals remained. With reverent care, Walking Coyote and his family endeavored to bring back the buffalo herds, one magnificent creature at a time. Here is the inspiring story of the first efforts to save the buffalo, an animal sacred to Native Americans and a powerful symbol of the American West.

Crazy Horse's Vision

Crazy Horse painting
Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Age Level: 6-9
Language: English, Lakota

Product Description: Joseph Bruchac tells the compelling story of how a young boy named Curly seeks a vision in the hope of saving his people — and grows into the brave and fierce warrior Crazy Horse. Sioux artist S. D. Nelson's paintings, in the traditional ledger style of the Plains Indians, evokes the drama and the tragedy of this important American figure.

Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship & Freedom

Illustrated by: Jeanne Rorex Bridges
Age Level: 6-9

Dramatic, quiet, and warming, this is a story of friendship across cultures in 1800s Mississippi. While searching for blackberries, Martha Tom, a young Choctaw, breaks her village's rules against crossing the Bok Chitto. She meets and becomes friends with the slaves on the plantation on the other side of the river and later helps a family escape across it to freedom when they hear that the mother is to be sold. Tingle is a performing storyteller, and his text has the rhythm and grace of that oral tradition. — School Library Journal

Doesn't Fall Off His Horse

Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: This magnificent true story offers a rare-and breathtaking-look into the life of a Kiowa boy at the end of the nineteenth century. The story is told by a very old man to his youngest great-granddaughter, Saygee, as he shows her one of his treasures: a leopard skin quiver, obtained at great price from the white traders. But there was one time when the quiver could not help him — the time he participated in a daring raid on an enemy tribe.

Hiawatha and the Peacemaker

Hiawatha and the Peacemaker
Illustrated by: David Shannon

Born of Mohawk and Cayuga descent, musical icon Robbie Robertson learned the story of Hiawatha and his spiritual guide, the Peacemaker, as part of the Iroquois oral tradition. Now he shares the same gift of storytelling with a new generation. Hiawatha was a strong and articulate Mohawk who was chosen to translate the Peacemaker’s message of unity for the five warring Iroquois nations during the 14th century.

How I Became a Ghost (A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story)

How I Became a Ghost (A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story)
Age Level: Middle Grade

Told in the words of Isaac, a Choctaw boy who does not survive the Trail of Tears, renowned author Tim Tingle tells tale of innocence and resilience in the face of tragedy. From the book's opening line, "Maybe you have never read a book written by a ghost before," the reader is put on notice that this is no normal book. Isaac leads a remarkable foursome of Choctaw comrades: a tough-minded teenage girl, a shape-shifting panther boy, a lovable five-year-old ghost who only wants her mom and dad to be happy, and Isaac's talking dog, Jumper.

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse

Jimmy McClean is a Lakota boy—though you wouldn’t guess it by his name: his father is part white and part Lakota, and his mother is Lakota. When he embarks on a journey with his grandfather, Nyles High Eagle, he learns more and more about his Lakota heritage—in particular, the story of Crazy Horse, one of the most important figures in Lakota and American history.

Little Woman Warrior Who Came Home: A Story of the Navajo Long Walk

Age Level: Middle Grade
Language: Diné (Navajo)

Dzanibaa' is alone when U.S. troops swoop down on her family's hogan. Before she can run to safety, a soldier grabs her and puts her on his horse. She is taken to Fort Canby, and from there is forced to walk to Bosque Redondo. For four long years, Dzanibaa' and her family endure incredible hardship and sacrifice. Nevertheless, this time of trial gives Dzanibaa' a profound sense of herself as a Navajo and of the importance of her culture. Bilingual Diné (Navajo)/English.

Longwalker's Journey: A Novel of The Chocktaw Trail of Tears

Illustrated by: Tony Meers
Age Level: Middle Grade

Product Description: In 1831, ten-year-old Minko Ushi is part of the forced removal of his Choctaw people from their homeland in Mississippi to Indian Territory. Minko's father decides to travel ahead by foot, taking Minko and his beloved pony, Black Spot, with him. As he walks hundreds of miles across Arkansas Territory through howling snowstorms, Minko learns that his people are much like his stubborn little pony: They may suffer, but their spirit will never be broken.


Age Level: Middle Grade

In the sequel to Chickadee, acclaimed author Louise Erdrich continues her award-winning Birchbark House series with the story of an Ojibwe family in nineteenth-century America. Named for the Ojibwe word for little bear, Makoons and his twin, Chickadee, have traveled with their family to the Great Plains of Dakota Territory. There they must learn to become buffalo hunters and once again help their people make a home in a new land. But Makoons has had a vision that foretells great challenges—challenges that his family may not be able to overcome.

Malian's Song

Illustrated by: William Maughan
Age Level: 6-9

Young Malian lives contentedly in an Abenaki village near Montreal in the mid-eighteenth century. One night, Malian's life changes abruptly when her father carries her off to the woods and her village is attacked. Malian's story, based on the true story of "Rogers's Raid" in 1759 and passed down through Abenaki oral tradition, reveals that many Abenaki people survived the attack that destroyed their village, in direct contrast to Rogers' journal accounts. (Vermont Folklife Center Children's Book Series)

Morning Girl

A peaceful, tropical world is the setting for this simple yet rich glimpse into the lives of a young sister and brother. Morning Girl and Star Boy grapple with timeless, universal issues such as experiencing simultaneous anger and love toward family members and the quest to discover the true self. Not until the epilogue do readers discover that the story takes place in 1492 and that the strange-looking visitors Morning Girl welcomes to shore are not as harmless as they may appear.

Rising Fawn and the Fire Mystery

Illustrated by: Beverly Bringle
Age Level: Middle Grade

"Based on actual events in 1833, Rising Fawn tells the poignant and triumphant story of a young Choctaw girl swept up in the chaos of the Indian Removal to the West. When she is rescued by a soldier and left with a white family in Memphis, Rising Fawn is thrust into a new world away from her people and old way of life. Through the mystery of ceremonial fire, she discovers how to survive without abandoning her heritage.

Roots of the Iroquois

"Roots Of The Iroquois tells of beginnings of the Iroquois Confederacy or the Haudenosaunee, people of the long house, eventually consisting of 6 bands, the Mohawks, Oneida, Onandagas, Cayugas, Senecas, and in the south, the Tuscarorans. These Native American groups established a coalition government with a Great Law Kalianerakowa, or Great Nice Way. Today historians finally are beginning to realize this confederation and system of government was in fact a viable model for the early American thirteen colonies." — Midwest Book Review

Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People

"Sitting Bull witnessed great changes in the lives of Native Americans during his lifetime (1831–90). Nelson, an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the Dakotas, presents Sitting Bull's life as an entry point into that period of history. A detailed time line and author's note reflect extensive research and a depth of understanding about the topic.

The Arrow Over the Door

Illustrated by: James Watling
Age Level: 6-9

For young Samuel Russell, the summer of 1777 is a time of fear. The British Army is approaching, and the Indians in the area seem ready to attack. To Stands Straight, a young Abenaki Indian scouting for King George, Americans are dangerous enemies who threaten his family and home. When Stands Straight's party enters the Quaker Meetinghouse where Samuel worships, the two boys share an encounter that neither will ever forget. Told in alternating viewpoints, this chapter book is based on a true story.

The Game of Silence

Age Level: Middle Grade

Like its predecessor The Birchbark House, this long-awaited sequel is framed by catastrophe, but the core of the story, which is set in 1850, is white settlers' threats to the traditional Ojibwe way of life. Omakayas is now nine and living at her beautiful island home in Lake Superior. But whites want Ojibwe off the island: Where will they go? In addition to an abundance of details about life through the seasons, Erdrich deals with the wider meaning of family and Omakayas' coming-of-age on a vision quest. — Booklist

The Long Walk: The Forced Navajo Exile

Diné (Navajo) historian Dr. Jennifer Nez Denetdale tells the story of the forced removal of the Diné to Bosque Redondo, a reservation in eastern New Mexico. Collectively known as the Long Walk, the approximately 400-mile-long series of marches was endured by more than 8,000 men, women, and children. The text includes photographs, artwork, a timeline, and recommended resources.

The People Shall Continue

The People Shall Continue
Illustrated by: Sharol Graves
Age Level: Middle Grade

Product Description: In 1977, Children's Book Press published this groundbreaking book, which "was and is hailed as an honest history of colonization in North America." The epic story begins with Creation to the present day, telling of the struggles, endurance, and survival of American Indians. In 2017, the book was re-released for its 40th anniversary edition.

This Land Is My Land

In his own words, paintings, and family photographs, acclaimed Native American artist George Littlechild takes young readers back in time to the first meeting between his Plains Cree ancestors and the first European settlers in North America. Through inspiring autobiographical stories accompanied by vivid, dramatic paintings, he recounts the history of his people and their relationship to the land, relating their struggles and triumphs with sensitivity, irony, and humor. Jane Addams Picture Book Award.

When a Ghost Talks Listen How I Became a Ghost (A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story)

When a Ghost Talks Listen
Age Level: Middle Grade

Ten-year-old Isaac, now a ghost, continues with his people as they walk the Choctaw Trail of Tears headed to Indian Territory in what will one day become Oklahoma. There have been surprises aplenty on their trek, but now Isaac and his three Choctaw comrades learn they can time travel--making for an unexpected adventure. The foursome heads back in time to Washington, D.C., to bear witness for Choctaw Chief Pushmataha who has come to the nation's capital at the invitation of his dear friend Andrew Jackson.