Celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day Every Day With These Must-Read Books

By Sam Cohen

October 6, 2023

We asked our colleagues across Courier Newsroom, Cardinal & Pine’s parent company, to share recommendations for books by Indigenous authors. Here’s what they said.

Monday, October 9, is Indigenous Peoples’ Day—a holiday to honor, celebrate, and recognize the accomplishments of the Native American, First Nation, and Indigenous peoples. It’s also a day for visibility for Native people, who still continue to fight for tribal sovereignty and land rights across the US.

But that’s not the only time to celebrate Indigenous culture and history. November is Indigenous People’s Month. And at Cardinal & Pine, we try to celebrate Native North Carolinians every day.

To help shine a light on the Native community, we put together a list of recommendations for books by Indigenous authors. These titles—whether fiction or nonfiction—will help you learn more about the importance of decolonizing your perspective. 

Before you dive into our suggestions, here’s a list of Indigenous-owned bookstores you can visit, and a comprehensive list of book recommendations from the staff of the First Nations Development Institute.

 

Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

A hallmark if you’re working on decolonizing your knowledge and perspective.

— Avery Staker, Social Media Manager (Iowa Starting Line)

 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie

I bought it because of all the book-banning controversies to see for myself and I finished in one airport reading. Really entertaining book and it has a whole lot of heart that comes through in a couple of chapters that are absolutely gut-wrenching.

Ty Rushing, Chief Political Correspondent (Iowa Starting Line)

 

I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala” by Rigoberta Menchu 

I read this a long time ago, but it made a big impression on me. In the book she tells about the injustice and struggles faced by the Mayan communities in Guatemala from her personal perspective. Many of her family members were tortured and killed by the Guatemalan military in the 1970s and 80s. She won the Nobel Peace Prize.

— Crystal Harlan, Senior Community Editor (Floricua) 

 

The Only Good Indians” by Stephen Graham Jones

This novel carries a nearly overwhelming sense of dread. Every time I pass by a small home in the middle of reservation land, I think about this book.

— Jessica Swarner, Community Editor (The Copper Courier)

 

Firekeeper’s Daughter” by Angeline Boulley

Bonus that it’s set in Michigan’s UP and she’s Ojibwe (Ojibwe dad).

 

Also, anything by Louise Erdrich! And if you are branching out into poetry, I love Joy Harjo.

 

I’ve also heard super good things about “The Seed Keeper” by Diane Wilson but I haven’t read it yet.

— Kate Bassett, National Political Director (Courier National)

 

Another vote for Firekeeper’s Daughter! I literally finished it yesterday! I thought it was an excellent representation of what it is like to come from a mixed heritage family and struggling to understand where you fit in.

— Marianne Kuga,  Paid Media Director (Courier National) 

 

There There” by Tommy Orange

If you Google reviews of Tommy Orange’s 2018 debut novel “There There,” you’ll see fancy newspapers and magazines talking about how groundbreaking it is. And it’s all true. But what I want everyone to know is that it’s also a genuinely awesome read. It’s fast and thrilling, and is written chapter-by-chapter in the voices of 12 different characters, each of whom is on their way to a large powwow—which we know right from the start is the final destination at the end of the book. Set in present-day Oakland, California, the common journey for the characters combines with the fast pace of the chapters to make the story move like a bullet speeding inevitably toward its target. You don’t need to be into any political causes, any historical subjects, or even any writing genres to love this book, because it’s just so, so captivating. However, if you do have such interests, you’ll be rewarded with historical and literary Easter Eggs, which add depth in surprising ways.

— Lisa Hayes, Editorial Director (Courier Community Department)

 

Echoing “There There” by Tommy Orange. This book is insanely moving.

— Lucy Ritzmann, Editorial & Content Manager (Courier National)

 

Solar Storms” by Linda Hogan

Since reading this I’ve been dying to get my hands on more of her books. “Solar Storms” captures the layers of love, loss, and heritage in some of the most beautiful writing I’ve seen.

— Leah Sherrell,  Multimedia Reporter (Cardinal & Pine)

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