June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada, meant to recognize the rich history, heritage, resilience, and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. 

While Indigenous authors and Indigenous characters should be celebrated and explored at any time, we thought Indigenous History Month would be the perfect opportunity to highlight some great books by Indigenous authors that you need to add to your reading list. 

Below are 15 great recommendations, across a multitude of genres — 13 of them are already out, and 2 of them will be published later this summer.

For Young Readers:

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

When a black snake threatens to destroy the earth and poison her people’s water, a young water protector takes a stand to try to defend Earth’s most sacred resource. Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, Carole Lindstroms We Are Water Protectors is a beautifully illustrated, lyrical picture book about harm, corruption, and the call to safeguard the Earth’s water. This book is a rallying cry for even the youngest of readers.

Nutshimit: In the Woods by Melissa Mollen Dupuis (Illustrated by Elise Gravel)

Available in both English and French, Melissa Mollen DupuisNutshimit is a delightful illustrated journey through Innu culture, from creation legends to life today. The Innu word ‘Nutshimit’ signifies the social and physical space for practicing traditional activities and language. This book is a journey through the forest, allowing the reader to learn some of the rich culture of the Innu people, the importance of the natural world, and learn a few Innu words along the way. This is a lovely nonfiction read for young readers curious about the world around them, and a lovely book for the whole family to enjoy together.

For Lovers of Self-Help and Wellness Books:

Burn Your Sh*t: The Life-Changing Magic of Rituals by Lori Dyan

Rituals are routines that are infused with loving intention and meaning — and no one knows this better than Lori Dyan (Tarot Lori), Tarot reader and member of the Peguis Band. Whether you’re releasing something (or someone) during a Full Moon ritual, elevating your skincare routine with a ceremony, or celebrating a milestone, Lori Dyan’s Burn Your Sh*t is your reader’s guide to rituals. Rituals can enrich and transform your life — you can easily customize them to meet you where you are, face challenges with clarity, and design your own life. Combining the scientifically proven elements of ritual with a little bit of mysticism, this is the perfect book for anyone looking to incorporate a bit of magic into their everyday life.


The Little Frog’s Guide to Self-Care by Maybell Eequay

Maybell Eequay’s The Little Frog’s Guide to Self-Care is a delightful and adorable collection of affirmations and life lessons, told by the internet’s most sassy and fashionable frog. Full of dozens of hand-drawn illustrations, this is a short, sweet, and no-nonsense read. It’s an empowering and delightful book that’s perfect for anyone looking for a little pick-me-up.

For Science and Nature Lovers

Held by the Land: A Guide to Indigenous Plants for Wellness by Leigh Joseph

Leigh Joseph is an ethnobotanist, and a member of the Squamish Nation, and Held By the Land is her beautifully illustrated introduction to Indigenous plant knowledge. Plants can be a great source of nourishment and healing, and the Indigenous Peoples of North America have long used native plants as medicine and food. This book honours and shares some of these traditions, offering readers a guide to identify and harvest plants in their area, and a chance to learn how to grow a deeper connection with the land they live on, through plants. This is the ideal read for anyone looking to deepen their connection with nature, and use its bounty to heal and sustain them.

Medicine Wheel for the Planet: A Journey Toward Personal and Ecological Healing by Dr. Jennifer Grenz

Dr. Jennifer Grenz’ Medicine Wheel for the Planet brings together Western science and Indigenous ecology  to transform our understanding of our role in healing the planet. Dr. Grenz had always felt a deep connection to the land, but after nearly two decades working as a restoration ecologist in the Pacific Northwest, she became frustrated that despite their best efforts, they weren’t making the meaningful changes needed for our planet to adapt to a warming climate. This led Dr. Grenz on a journey of trying to reconcile Western Science with her Indigenous worldviews. Medicine Wheel for the Planet is based on sacred stories, field observation, and personal stories, leading to a powerful book meant to inspire and disrupt your ideas around land reconciliation, and healing our planet.

For Lovers of Art & History, Real or Imagined:

The Memoirs of Miss Chief Eagle Testickle: Vol: 1: A True and Exact Accounting of the History of Turtle Island By Kent Monkman and Gisele Gordon

Celebrated Cree artist Kent Monkman and his longtime collaborator Gisele Gordon created The Memoirs of Miss Chief Eagle Testickle: Volume 1, the first in two volumes meant to transform the reader’s understanding of the land called North America, through a combination of true stories, imagined history, and Monkman’s incredible art. For decades, Monkman’s paintings have featured the recurring character Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, an alter ego of sorts, a shape-shifting, time-traveling elemental being, and this book is her own story, in her own words. Transcending (and destroying) genres and genre conventions, the story moves through time from the creation of the universe, to the confederation of Canada, to the arrival of European settlers. This book is unlike anything you’ve ever read before, and a true work of art — in every sense of the word.

For Literary Fiction Lovers:

Coexistence by Billy-Ray Belcourt

Acclaimed poet and author Billy-Ray Belcourt’s Coexistence is a beautiful and profound collection of stories and vignettes meant to put together a portrait of modern Indigeneity. In these stories, a grieving mother calls to her faraway son; A student forgoes dating apps in exchange for the love of a painter; The anonymous voices of queer men converge around violent eroticism; While a professor is haunted by the ghost of a nun. Poets (in my opinion) are some of the best fiction writers out there, and Belcourt is no exception, with his exquisite prose bringing to life these incredible characters, from all walks of native life. This is the perfect read for anyone who loves literary fiction and delectable prose.

A Grandmother Begins the Story by Michelle Porter

Award-winning writer Michelle Porter’s A Grandmother Begins the Story is her fiction debut. This is an enchanting story following five generations of women and bison, as they reach for the stories that can help them rebuild their futures, and remake their worlds. Carter is a young, recently separated mother, on a quest to find what her heritage truly means. Allie, Carter’s mother, is trying to make up for the lost years. Lucie wants the granddaughter she’s never met to help her meet her ancestors in the afterlife. Genevieve is determined to conquer her demons, and meanwhile Mame, in the afterlife, knows that all their stories begin with her and she must find a way to cut herself from the threads that keep her tethered to the living. This is an extraordinary novel full of humour, great storytelling, and memorable characters, introducing readers to a new, incredible voice in literary fiction.

For Lovers of Thrills and Chills:

And Then She Fell by Alicia Elliott

Alicia Elliott’s fiction debut, And Then She Fell, is a compelling horror story that explores motherhood and mental health, following a young Indigenous woman who discovers that the life she’d always dreamt of may have some horrifying consequences. Alice is exactly where she should be in life — she’s just had a beautiful baby girl, her charming husband (a white academic studying her own Mohawk culture) is doting and supportive, and they’ve just moved into a new home in a posh Toronto neighbourhood… But she couldn’t feel more like an imposter. She’s struggling to connect with her daughter, she just lost her mother, and she feels like she has to hide her despair. One day, strange things start to happen, as she starts losing time and hearing unexplainable voices. All the while, her neighbours’ passive-aggressive behaviours start to turn into something far more threatening. This is a tense and thrilling story that melds genres and themes expertly, perfect for lovers of horror and magical realism.

Never Whistle At Night: An Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology Edited by Shane Hawk and Theodore C. Van Alst Jr.

Edited by Shane Hawk and Theodore C. Van Alst Jr, Never Whistle at Night is an anthology of horror and dark fiction, featuring stories from authors including Cherie Dimaline, Darcie Little Badger, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Waubgeshig Rice. These stories are tied together with the belief (held by many Indigenous people) that you should never whistle at night. This belief takes on many forms, depending on the culture, but at their core, these legends all believe that whistling at night can cause evil spirits to appear. This is a spine-tingling collection that introduces readers to stories of monsters, ghosts, curses, and more. It’s the perfect collection for anyone who loves getting goosebumps.

Looking for Smoke by K.A. Cobell

K.A.Cobells Looking for Smoke is an unputdownable young adult thriller told from the perspective of 4 Indigenous (Blackfeet) teens. This book starts off at “Indian Days”, a festival honouring and celebrating Blackfeet culture and community. A teenage girl has been missing for months, and her sister, their childhood friends, and newcomer Mara get swept up in the current of a dangerous mystery when another teen girl is found dead during the festival, and the four of them are among the prime suspects. This is a tense and powerful book that will have you at the edge of your seat, although it does cover some difficult topics, like the legacy of MMIWG (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls), and legacies of trauma and pain. This is an incredibly compelling thriller from a new voice to watch in the fiction space.

For Fantasy Readers:

To Shape A Dragon’s Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose

Moniquill Blackgoose’s To Shape A Dragon’s Breath is a delicious young adult fantasy about a young Indigenous woman who enters a colonizer-run dragon academy, soon finding herself at odds with the “approved” way of doing things. The remote island of Masquapaug hasn’t seen a dragon in generations, until fifteen-year-old Anequs finds a dragon’s egg and bonds with its hatchling. Unfortunately, though, the Anglish conquerors of her land have different opinions about how a dragon should be raised… and who should be raising it, and Anequs doesn’t meet the requirements. With great reluctance, they allow Anequs to enroll in a proper Anglish dragon school — and if she can’t succeed there, her dragon will be killed. This is an incredible, fantastical coming-of-age story for lovers of fantasy, dragons, and cultural criticism.

Coming Soon:

Waiting for the Long Night Moon by Amanda Peters

(Publishing August 13th)

Award-winning author Amanda Peters took the literary world by storm with The Berry Pickers, so I’m super excited to read her upcoming debut short story collection, Waiting for the Long Night Moon. In this collection, Peters melds traditional storytelling with beautiful prose, describing Indigenous lived experience, through stories that are both sad, and joyful, and full of themes of grief, trauma, and resilience. 

The Knowing: The Enduring Legacy of Residential Schools by Tanya Talaga

(Publishing August 27th)

Tanya Talagas The Knowing is the latest book from the critically-acclaimed journalist and award-winning author of Seven Fallen Feathers. It’s an urgent exploration of the residential school system, one of Canada’s most shameful legacies. Generations of Indigenous people have known that their family members disappeared, especially after having been sent to residential schools, “Indian hospitals”, and asylums – a coordinated system designed to destroy First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people. In The Knowing, Talaga retells the history of this country through an Indigenous lens, by tracing the life of her great-great grandmother, and family, as they lived through this government and church-sanctioned genocide. If this book is anything like Talaga’s previous works, this is sure to become a new staple on every Canadian’s bookshelf.

Ameema Saeed (@ameemabackwards) is a storyteller, a Capricorn, an avid bookworm, and a curator of very specific playlists and customized book recommendations. She’s a book reviewer, a Sensitivity Reader, a book buyer at Indigo Books & Music, and the Books Editor for She Does the City, where she writes and curates bookish content, and book recommendations. She enjoys bad puns, good food, dancing, and talking about feelings. She writes about books, big feelings, unruly bodies, and her lived experiences, and hopes to write your next favourite book one day. When she’s not reading books, she likes to talk about books (especially diverse books, and books by diverse authors) on her bookstagram: @ReadWithMeemz