Top 30 books and resources to read during Indigenous History Month

Indigenous History Month in June is a time to recognize and honour the diverse history, cultures, strength, resilience and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples across Canada.


For those seeking to learn more about Indigenous history, languages, cultures and experiences, TWU’s Norma Alloway Library has many more resources available. What's more, the library team are ready to help connect readers and researchers with materials suited to their interests. Check out their guide for finding information on First Nations, Aboriginal people, Inuit, and Metis: Indigenous Peoples Research Guide.

In light of Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, TWU library staff have provided their “top 30” book and resource recommendations to explore this month:


Children's Literature

1. If I Go Missing / Brianna Jonnie

A powerfully illustrated graphic novel for teens about the subject of missing and murdered Indigenous people. Combining graphic fiction and non-fiction, this young adult graphic novel serves as a window into one of the unique dangers of being an Indigenous teen in Canada today.

2. As Long as the Rivers Flow / Larry Loyie

As Long as the Rivers Flow is the story of Larry Loyie's last summer before entering residential school. It is a time of learning and adventure. He cares for an abandoned baby owl and watches his grandmother make winter moccasins. He helps the family prepare for a hunting and gathering trip.

3. A Stranger at Home: a True Story / Christy Jordan-Fenton  

Traveling to be reunited with her family in the arctic, 10-year-old Margaret Pokiak can hardly contain her excitement. It's been two years since her parents delivered her to the school run by the dark-cloaked nuns and brothers. Coming ashore, Margaret spots her family, but her mother barely recognizes her, screaming, "Not my girl."

4. Go Show the World: a Celebration of Indigenous Heroes /  Wab Kinew

Celebrating the stories of Indigenous people throughout time, Wab Kinew has created a powerful rap song, the lyrics of which are the basis for the text in this beautiful picture book, illustrated by the acclaimed Joe Morse. Including figures such as Crazy Horse, Net-no-kwa, former NASA astronaut John Herrington and Canadian NHL goalie Carey Price.

Literature

5. Flint and Feather: the Complete Poems of E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake) 18th ed.

This volume of the complete poems of Emily Pauline Johnson was a special tribute to Johnson’s lifelong love for poetry. Emily Johnson's work is considered to be the brightest literature heritage of Canada, as she wrote over 30 books. Her works are known for their use of Indigenous voices, telling stories with a deep spiritual depth.

6. Legends of Vancouver / E. Pauline Johnson

A much-loved Canadian classic, Legends of Vancouver takes the reader back to a time long ago, before the city of Vancouver was built, when the land belonged to the Squamish people. These legends tell the stories behind many prominent natural features in and around Vancouver.

7. All My Relations: an Anthology of Contemporary Canadian Native Fiction / Thomas King

A fine collection of Canadian First Nations authors' works.

8. Indian Horse / Richard Wagamese

Saul Indian Horse has hit bottom. His last binge almost killed him, and now he's a reluctant resident in a treatment centre for alcoholics, surrounded by people he's sure will never understand him. But Saul wants peace, and he grudgingly comes to see that he'll find it only through telling his story. 

9. The Back of the Turtle / Thomas King

When Gabriel Quinn, a brilliant scientist, abandons his laboratory and returns to Smoke River Reserve, where his mother and sister lived, he finds that almost everyone in the community has disappeared. Even the sea turtles are gone, poisoned by an environmental disaster known as The Ruin.

Art

10. Tales of Ghosts: First Nations Art in British Columbia, 1922-61 / Ronald William Hawker

The years between 1922 and 1961, often referred to as the "Dark Ages of Northwest Coast art," have largely been ignored by art historians, and dismissed as a period of artistic decline. Tales of Ghosts compellingly reclaims this era, arguing that it was instead a critical period during which the art played an important role in public discourse.

Non-Fiction: Culture

11. Oral History on Trial: Recognizing Aboriginal Narratives in the Courts / Bruce Granville Miller

In this important book, anthropologist Bruce Granville Miller breaks new ground by asking how oral histories might be incorporated into the existing court system. Through compelling analysis of Aboriginal, legal, and anthropological concepts of fact and evidence, Miller traces the long trajectory of oral history from community to court, and offers a sophisticated critique of the Crown’s use of Aboriginal materials in key cases, including the watershed Delgamuukw trial.

12. The Imaginary Indian: the Image of the Indian in Canadian Culture / Daniel Francis

The Imaginary Indian is a fascinating, revealing history of the "Indian" image mythologized by popular Canadian culture since 1850, propagating stereotypes that exist to this day. Images of the Indian have always been fundamental to Canadian culture. 

13. You Are Asked to Witness: the Stó:lō in Canada's Pacific Coast History / Keith Thor Carlson

Stó:lō history as told through the voices of the Stó:lō people.

14. I Am Woman: a Native Perspective on Sociology and Feminism / Lee Maracle

One of the foremost Native writers in North America, Lee Maracle links her First Nations heritage with feminism in this visionary book. 

15. A Stó:lo-Coast Salish Historical Atlas / Keith Carlson

This superbly researched, groundbreaking historical atlas presents a history of the civilization and territory of the Stó:lo, a First Nations people. Through words, archival photographs, and 86 full-color maps, the book details the mythic beginnings of the Stó:lo people and how white settlement turned their homeland into the bustling metropolis of Vancouver. 

16. Canada's First Nations: a History of Founding Peoples from Earliest Times / Olive Patricia Dickason

Canada's First Nations is a comprehensive history of Canada's original inhabitants, Indians, Inuit, and later, Metis. Using an interdisciplinary approach combining techniques from History, Anthropology, and Archaeology, Dickason tells the story of the more than 50 First Nations in the territory that is now Canada.

17. Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys : a Native American Expression of the Jesus Way / Richard Twiss

The gospel of Jesus has not always been good news for Native Americans. The history of North America is marred by atrocities committed against Native peoples. Indigenous cultures were erased in the name of Christianity. As a result, to this day few Native Americans are followers of Jesus. However, despite the far-reaching effects of colonialism, some Natives have forged culturally authentic ways to follow the way of Jesus. However, despite the far-reaching effects of colonialism, some Natives have forged culturally authentic ways to follow the way of Jesus. 

18. First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament / Terry M. Wildman and First Nations Version Translation Council

The First Nations Version (FNV) recounts the Creator's Story—the Christian Scriptures—following the tradition of Native storytellers' oral cultures. While remaining faithful to the original language of the New Testament, the FNV is a dynamic equivalence translation that captures the simplicity, clarity, and beauty of Native storytellers in English.

19. Stolen Life: the Journey of a Cree Woman / Rudy Henry Wiebe

A powerful autobiography from Yvonne Johnson--the great-great-granddaughter of Cree leader Chief Big Bear. This is the unforgettable true story of Yvonne Johnson's early life and a revealing account of injustice toward Indigenous women.

20. Paddling Her Own Canoe: the Times and Texts of E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake) / Veronica Jane Strong-Boag

 

Frequently dismissed as a "nature poet" and an "Indian Princess" E. Pauline Johnson (1861-1913) was not only an accomplished thinker and writer but a contentious and passionate personality who 'talked back' to Euro-Canadian culture. Paddling Her Own Canoe is the only major scholarly study that examines Johnson's diverse roles as a First Nations champion, New Woman, serious writer and performer, and Canadian nationalist.

21. We Are Born with the Songs Inside Us: Lives and Stories of First Nations People in British Columbia / Katherine Gordon

Since 2004, journalist Katherine Palmer Gordon has interviewed dozens of young First Nations people living in British Columbia--artists and community leaders, comedians and consultants, musicians and lawyers, people who are household names and those known only within their own communities. We Are Born with the Songs Inside Us collects sixteen candid stories gleaned from those interviews, stories of people who share an unshakeable belief in the importance of their cultural heritage to their well-being, to their success at what they do, and to their everyday lives.

Non-Fiction: Justice

22. Cultivating Canada: Reconciliation through the Lens of Cultural Diversity / Ashok Mathur

This third and final volume in a series of publications dedicated to reconciliation comes as the Aboriginal Healing Foundation prepares to close its doors after nearly one-and-a-half decades of work. Its publication constitutes the literal final word in the AHF’s research agenda, but not the metaphorical final word on the subject of reconciliation. The Aboriginal Healing Foundation has for years underscored the message that addressing the historical trauma resulting from Canada’s policy of forced assimilation will require a long-term commitment.

23. Unsettling Canada: a National Wake-Up Call / Arthur Manuel

As the son of George Manuel, who served as president of the National Indian Brotherhood and founded the World Council of Indigenous Peoples in the 1970s, Arthur Manuel was born into the struggle. From his unique and personal perspective, as a Secwepemc leader and an Indigenous activist who has played a prominent role on the international stage, Arthur Manuel describes the victories and failures, the hopes and the fears of a generation of activists fighting for Aboriginal title and rights in Canada.

24. A Knock on the Door: the Essential History of Residential Schools / Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

"It can start with a knock on the door one morning. It is the local Indian agent, or the parish priest, or, perhaps, a Mounted Police officer." So began the school experience of many Indigenous children in Canada for more than a hundred years, and so begins the history of residential schools prepared by the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

25. Nation to Nation: Aboriginal Sovereignty and the Future of Canada / John Bird

Building on the first edition and reflecting changes in the last decade, Nation to Nation chronicles Aboriginal-Canadian relations past, present and future. Through Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal voices, it encourages a relationship of equality and justice between these two sovereignties. 

26. Indigenous Relations: Insights, Tips & Suggestions to Make Reconciliation a Reality / Robert P. C. Joseph

We are all treaty people. But what are the everyday impacts of treaties, and how can we effectively work toward reconciliation if we're worried our words and actions will unintentionally cause harm? Hereditary chief and leading Indigenous relations trainer Bob Joseph is your guide to respecting cultural differences and improving your personal relationships and business interactions with Indigenous Peoples.

27. Amongst God's Own: the Enduring Legacy of St. Mary's Mission / Terry Glavin

For over 100 years, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate operated St. Mary's Mission, a residential school near Mission, BC. Now the stories of its former students are told for the first time. In Amongst God's Own, acclaimed writer Terry Glavin has woven the accounts of 35 native elders into a bold, uncompromising narrative of life at St. Mary's.

28. Behind Closed Doors: Stories from the Kamloops Indian Residential School /  Agnes S. Jack

Behind Closed Doors features written testimonials from thirty-two individuals who attended the Kamloops Indian Residential School. The school was one of many infamous residential schools that operated from 1893 to 1979. The storytellers remember and share with us their stolen time at the school; many stories are told through courageous tears.

29. Pathways of Reconciliation: Indigenous and Settler Approaches to Implementing the TRC's Calls to Action / Aimée Craft and Paulette Regan

Since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its Calls to Action in June 2015, governments, churches, non-profit, professional and community organizations, corporations, schools and universities, clubs and individuals have asked: “How can I/we participate in reconciliation?”

30. In My Own Moccasins : A Memoir of Resilience / Helen Knott

Helen Knott, a highly accomplished Indigenous woman, seems to have it all. But in her memoir, she offers a different perspective. In My Own Moccasins is an unflinching account of addiction, intergenerational trauma, and the wounds brought on by sexual violence. It is also the story of sisterhood, the power of ceremony, the love of family, and the possibility of redemption.


Indigenous Initiatives at TWU

As a global Christian university, TWU continues to foster greater knowledge and understanding of Indigenous cultures, worldview, and history among students, staff, and faculty. We do this by providing educational opportunities, engaging in community partnerships, and through caring for and supporting Indigenous students. Learn more at Indigenous Initiatives at TWU.


We respectfully acknowledge: Trinity Western’s main campus in Langley is located on the traditional ancestral unceded territory of the Stó:lō people. TWU’s Richmond campus is located on the traditional ancestral unceded territory of the Musqueam people. TWU’s Laurentian Leadership Centre in Ottawa is located within the traditional ancestral unceded territory of the Algonquin people.


See also — Listening, learning, and sharing life with an Indigenous community: a TWU service-learning trip to Fort Babine
 
TWU News


About Trinity Western University

Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is Canada’s premier global Christian liberal arts university. We are dedicated to equipping students to discover meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. Drawing upon the riches of the Christian tradition, seeking to unite faith and reason through teaching and scholarship, Trinity Western University is a degree-granting research institution offering liberal arts and sciences as well as professional schools

in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has four campuses and locations: Langley, Richmond-Lansdowne, Richmond-Minoru, and Ottawa. Learn more at www.twu.ca or follow us on Twitter @TrinityWestern, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

For media inquiries, please contact: media@twu.ca.

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