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Suggested Reading

"I heard an elder speak of the importance of our languages and our culture. He said that our words are powerful; our stories are elastic; our languages are music: they dance, they move and they are medicine for our people. He said they are a spirit within themselves and we are only the channel that brings them to life. I write because I know what he said is true."
- Nicola I. Campbell, author

"It is harder to find somebody who will listen, but everybody reads.”
-Chief Dan George ("Words to a Grandchild")

Our friends over at CBC Books are getting in on the 8TH Fire action too! For the next few weeks Waubgeshig Rice, CBC Ottawa reporter, 8TH Fire contributor, and author of the recent short story collection Midnight Sweatlodge, will be serving as guest blogger for CBC Books, recording his thoughts on the 8th Fire series from a literary perspective. You can read his first post here, and be sure to check in with him every week until February 2.

Watch an interview with playwright Tara Beagan , who discusses the importance of storytelling in preserving Aboriginal traditions and culture.


Literature written by and about Aboriginal Peoples in Canada has for many years been widely published, and many Aboriginal authors living in Canada have now become recognized and celebrated internationally. The diversity of various Aboriginal cultures and experiences are reflected in numerous living languages, yet the following lists of recommended books provide a brief selection of literature written, for the most part, in English. The majority of works listed here are by Aboriginal authors — although a number of significant works by Canadian non-Aboriginal authors are included also.


READING SUGGESTIONS: FICTION

SLASH Jeannette Armstrong
THE BEOTHUK SAGA Bernard Assiniwi
AS LONG AS THE RIVERS FLOW James Bartleman
THREE DAY ROAD Joseph Boyden
THROUGH BLACK SPRUCE Joseph Boyden
RIVER THIEVES Michael Crummey
RAVENSONG Lee Maracle
GREEN GRASS, RUNNING WATER Thomas King
DANCE ME OUTSIDE W.P. Kinsella
IN SEARCH OF APRIL RAINTREE Beatrice Culleton Mosionier
MONKEY BEACH Eden Robinson
MIDNIGHT SWEATLODGE Waubgeshig Issac Rice
THE ECSTASY OF RITA JOE George Ryga
THE TEMPTATIONS OF BIG BEAR Rudy Wiebe
THE LESSER BLESSED Richard Van Camp
STONES AND SWITCHES Lorne Simon
HONOUR THE SUN Ruby Slipperjack
KEEPER'N ME Richard Wagamese
SKIN ROOM Sara Tilley
MEDICINE RIVER Thomas King
MOTORCYCLES AND SWEETGRASS Drew Hayden Taylor
OUR STORY: Aboriginal Voices on Canada's Past Thomas King, Tantoo Cardinal, Tomson Highway
WITHOUT RESERVATION: Indigenous Erotica Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm (Editor)
SKINS: Contemporary Indigenous Writing Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm , Josie Douglas (Eds)
An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English Daniel David Moses and Terry Goldie (Eds)
BROTHERS IN ARMS Jordan Wheeler
DEADLY LOYALTIES Jennifer Storm
RED ROOMS Cheri Dimaline
INDIAN HORSE Richard Wagamese

READING SUGGESTIONS: NON FICTION

MY HEART SHOOK LIKE A DRUM: What I Learned at the Indian Mission Schools, Northwest Territories Alice Blondin-Perrin
PEACE, POWER, RIGHTEOUSNESS Taiaiake Alfred
WASÁSE: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom Taiaiake Alfred
SEEING RED: A History of Natives in Canadian Newspapers Mark Anderson and Carmen Robertson
RAISIN WINE: A Boyhood in a Different Muskoka James K. Bartleman
DRAWING OUT LAW: A Spirit’s Guide John Borrows
RECOVERING CANADA: The Resurgence of Indigenous Law John Borrows
CANADA'S INDIGENOUS CONSTITUTION John Borrows
A LONG AND TERRIBLE SHADOW: White Values, Native Rights in the Americas, 1492-1992 Thomas R. Berger
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANNA MAE AQUASH Johanna Brand
A GATHERING OF SPIRIT: A Collection by North American Indian Women Beth Brant
HALFBREED Maria Campbell
SPIRITS OF OUR WHALING ANCESTORS: Revitalizing Makah and Nuu-chah-nulth Traditions Charlotte Coté
WE ARE NOT YOU: First Nations and Canadian Modernity Claude Denis
CANADA'S FIRST NATIONS: A History of the Founding Peoples from Earliest Times Olive Patricia Dickason
BEYOND THE INDIAN ACT: Restoring Aboriginal Property Rights Tom Flanagan
THE TRUTH ABOUT STORIES: A Native Narrative Thomas King
WRITING THE CIRCLE: Native Women of Western Canada Jeanne Perreault , Sylvia Vance
FIRST NATIONS 101 Lynda Gray
DANCES WITH DEPENDENCY: Out Of Poverty Through-Reliance Calvin Helin
WHEN THE OTHER IS ME: Native Resistance Discourse, 1850 - 1990 Emma LaRocque
REPORTING IN INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES Duncan McCue
INUIT MODERN Gerald McMaster
A FAIR COUNTRY: Telling Truths about Canada John Ralston Saul
A NATIONAL CRIME: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System John S. Milloy
BEYOND BLOOD: Re-Thinking Indigenous Identity Pamela Palmater
LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE: Don Burnstick Waubgeshig Rice
THIS IS NOT A PEACE PIPE: Towards a Critical Indigenous Philosophy Dale Turner
DISTANT RELATIONS: How My Ancestors Colonized North America Victoria Freeman
ENDING DENIAL: Understanding Aboriginal Issues Wayne Warry
FIRST NATIONS, FIRST THOUGHTS: The Impact of Indigenous Thought in Canada Annis May Timson
FEMINISM FOR REAL: Deconstructing The Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism Jessica Yee
THEY CALL ME CHIEF: The Story of Indians in the NHL Don Marks
HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT: Contributions of Aboriginal Peoples to Canadian Identity and Culture David Newhouse
IN THEIR OWN VOICES: Building Urban Aboriginal Communities Jim Silver
DECOLONIZING METHODOLOGIES: Research and Indigenous Peoples Linda Tuhiwai-Smith
"REAL" INDIANS AND OTHERS: Mixed-blood urban Native peoples and indigenous nationhood Bonita Lawrence
STRONG WOMEN STORIES: Native Vision and Community Survival Kim Anderson, Bonita Lawrence
ONE NATIVE LIFE Richard Wagamese
THE DISPOSSESSED: Life and Death in Native Canada Geoffrey York
Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada Paulette Regan, Taiaiake Alfred
Dancing On Our Turtle's Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence, and a New Emergence Leanne Simpson
ABORIGINAL PEOPLES IN CANADIAN CITIES: Transformation and Continuities Heather Howard, Craig Proulx (Eds)
ALLIANCES: Re/Envisioning Indigenous-non-Indigenous Relationships Lynne Davis (Editor)
MI'SEL JOE: An Aboriginal Chief's Journey Raoul Andersen, John Crellin (Eds)
THIS IS AN HONOUR SONG: Twenty Years Since The Blockades Leanne Simpson, Kiera Ladner (Eds)
LIGHTING THE EIGHTH FIRE: The Liberation, Resurgence and Protection of First Nations Leanne Simpson (Editor)
FIRST VOICES: An Aboriginal Women's Reader Patricia Monture-Angus, Patricia Mcguire (Eds.)
CULTIVATING CANADA: RECONCILIATION THROUGH THE LENS OF CULTURAL DIVERSITY Ashok Mathur, Jonathan Dewar. Mike DeGagne (Eds.)
WE GET OUR LIVING LIKE MILK FROM THE LAND Lee Maracle, Delphine Derickson, Greg Young-Ing (Eds)
1491. NEW REVELATIONS OF THE AMERICAS BEFORE COLUMBUS Charles Mann
THE CIRCLE GAME: RETHINKING THE INDIAN RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL EXPERIENCE IN CANADA Roland Chrisjohn
AS LONG AS THIS LAND SHALL LASTRéne Fumoleau
THINK INDIANBasil Johnston
RESTORING THE BALANCE: First Nations Women, Community and Culture edited by Gail Guthrie Valaskakis, Madeline Dion Stout, and Eric Guimond
PRISON OF GRASS: CANADA FROM A NATIVE POINT OF VIEW Howard Adams
MAPS & DREAMS: INDIANS AND THE BRITISH COLUMBIA FRONTIER Hugh Brody
THE UNJUST SOCIETY Harold Cardinal
STRONG WOMEN STORIES: NATIVE VISION AND COMMUNITY SURVIVAL Bonita Lawrence and Kim Anderson
ACCOUNTING FOR GENOCIDE: CANADA'S BUREAUCRATIC ASSAULT ON ABORIGINAL PEOPLE Harold Ed. Neu, Dean Neu and Richard Therrien
LIFE STAGES AND NATIVE WOMEN: MEMORY, TEACHINGS AND STORY MEDICINE Kim Anderson
ENTERING THE WAR ZONE: A MOHAWK PERSPECTIVE ON RESISTING INVASION Donna Goldleaf

READING SUGGESTIONS: RETELLINGS OF TALES, LEGENDS AND STORIES

ARCTIC DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES Alootook Ipellie
OMUSHKEGOWUK STORIES A. Weesk
SACRED LEGENDS Carl Ray and James R. Stevens
ON THE TRAIL OF ELDER BROTHER: Glous'gap Stories of the Micmac Indians Michael B. Runningwolf and Patricia Clark Smith
THE BEAR-WALKER AND OTHER STORIES Basil Johnston and David A. Johnson
OJIBWAY HERITAGE Basil Johnston
NINE MICMAC LEGENDS Alden Nowlan and Shirley Bear
THE RAVEN STEALS THE LIGHT Bill Reid and Robert Bringhurst
THE STORIES OF THE ROAD ALLOWANCE PEOPLE Maria Campbell (Trans.), Paintings by Sherry Farrell Racette
LEGENDS FROM THE FOREST Told by Chief Thomas Fiddler James R. Stevens (Editor), translated by Edtrip Fiddler

READING SUGGESTIONS: GRAPHIC NOVELS OR COMIC BOOKS

7 GENERATIONS David Alexander Robertson and Scott B. Henderson
THE LIFE OF HELEN BETTY OSBORNE: A Graphic Novel David Alexander Robertson and Madison Blackstone
SUGAR FALLS: A Residential School Story David Alexander Robertson and Scott B. Henderson
LOUIS RIEL: A Comic-Strip Biography Chester Brown
THE 500 YEARS OF RESISTANCE COMIC BOOK Gord Hill
THE ADVENTURES OF RABBIT AND BEAR PAWS Christopher Meyer, Tanya Leary, Chad Solomon
SACRED CIRCLES Brandon Mitchell
DARKNESS CALLS Steve Keewatin Sanderson
AN INVITED THREAT Steve Keewatin Sanderson
JUST A STORY Steve Keewatin Sanderson
RED: A Haida Manga Michael Yahgulanaas

READING SUGGESTIONS: POETRY

WILES OF GIRLHOOD Joanne Arnott
EXERCISES IN LIP POINTING Marie Annharte Baker
A REALLY GOOD BROWN GIRL Marilyn Dumont
GREEN GIRL DREAMS MOUNTAINS Marilyn Dumont
WHISKEY BULLETS: Cowboy and Indian Heritage Poems Garry Gottfriedson
BLUE MARROW Louise Halfe
FLINT AND FEATHER: The Complete Poems Pauline Johnson
SONG OF ESKASONI Rita Joe
SWEETGRASS II Wayne Keon
ESHI UAPATAMAN NUKUM Rita Mestokosho
AT GERONIMO'S GRAVE Armand Ruffo
MY HEART SOARS Chief Dan George
NATIVE POETRY IN CANADA: A Contemporary Anthology Jeannette C. Armstrong and Lally Grauer (Eds)
DISCOVERY PASSAGESGary Thomas Morse

READING SUGGESTIONS: CHILDREN'S BOOKS

SHI-SHI-ETKO Nicola Campbell and Kim Lafave
SHINCHI'S CANOE Nicola Campbell and Kim Lafave
RIEL’S PEOPLE Maria Campbell
OWLS SEE CLEARLY AT NIGHT Julie Flett
FATTY LEGS: A True Story Christy Jordan-Fenton, Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, Liz Amini-Holmes
AS LONG AS THE RIVERS FLOW Larry Loyie (with Constance Brissenden) and Heather D. Holmlund
THE GATHERING TREE Larry Loyie and Constance Brissenden, and Heather D. Holmlund
What’s the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses? Richard Van Camp and George Littlechild
LOST IN THE BARRENS Farley Mowat
BIRD TALK: BINESHIINH DIBAAJMOWIN Lenore Keeshig-Tobias and Polly Keeshig-Tobias
ALEGO Ningeokuluk Teevee
CHUCK IN THE CITY Jordan Wheeler and Christopher Auchter
THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE BLACK SHIP Michael Yahgulanaas
FLIGHT OF THE HUMMINGBIRD: A Parable for the Environment Michael Yahgulanaas
ANCIENT THUNDER Leo Yerxa
COYOTE SOLSTICE TALE Thomas King and Gary Clement

READING SUGGESTIONS: PLAYS

free as injuns Tara Beagan
DREARY AND IZZY Tara Beagan
JESSICA Maria Campbell and Linda Griffiths
THE BOOK OF JESSICA: A Theatrical Transformation Maria Campbell and Linda Griffiths
SHADOW PEOPLE Shirley Cheechoo
PLEASE DON'T TOUCH THE INDIANS Joseph A. Dandurand
LADY OF SILENCES Floyd Favel
DRY LIPS OUGHTA MOVE TO KAPUSKASING Tomson Highway
THE REZ SISTERS Tomson Highway
MOON LODGE Margo Kane
THE TOMMY PRINCE STORY Alanis King
THE MANITOULIN INCIDENT Alanis King
A VERY POLITE GENOCIDE Melainie J. Murray
COYOTE CITY Daniel David Moses
ALMIGHTY VOICE AND HIS WIFE Daniel David Moses
ANNIE MAE’S MOVEMENT Yvette Nolan
THREE LITTLE BIRDS Kenneth T. Williams
ONLY DRUNKS AND CHILDREN TELL THE TRUTH Drew Hayden Taylor
TORONTO AT DREAMER’S ROCK Drew Hayden Taylor
PRINCESS POCAHONTAS AND THE BLUE SPOTS Monique Mojica
THE TRIAL OF KICKING BEAR Michael Lawrenchuk
fareWel Ian Ross
STAGING COYOTE’S DREAM: An Anthology of First Nations Drama in English Ric Knowles and Monique Mojica (Eds)

RECOMMENDATED WEBSITES FOR MORE INFORMATION

Aboriginal Literatures in Canada
Native Earth Performing Acts Inc.
Literacy BC: Aboriginal Resource List