Conference presenters or planning committee members recommended these books to help better understand Native peoples. Contributors to the list include Claire Manning Dick, Antoinette Harney Cavanaugh, Tai Simpson, Norm Cavanaugh, Johanna J. Jones, Felicia Bogard, Edwin Keener, and Gypsy Shelley Hall.
- This list features books by Native authors and others about Indigenous Peoples of the Boise Valley.
- Also included are titles about Indigenous peoples from additional regions if they help explore themes relevant to peoples of this area.
- Names of Native authors are followed by a note in parentheses of their tribal/band affiliation or their nation (as much as possible as they self-identify). Illustrators are listed with author(s) in the byline.
- While books are grouped by suggested ages of readers, books for youth can also be enjoyed by adults!
- Many of these titles are available at Rediscovered Books located in downtown Boise at 180 N. 8th Street, and rdbooks.org Conference attendees will receive a coupon good for 20% off one item at the bookstore.
These are but a very few of many books that merit your consideration for reading.
- Some are out of print with limited availability but worth seeking out. Many are at area libraries. Some are published online. It is hoped these can be republished or made available electronically in the future.
- The number of works by diverse Indigenous writers is fast growing, so we can look forward to more reading in the future!
- We invite you to suggest books for our “Future Conference Booklist,” located at the registration table!
ADULTS AND YOUNG ADULTS – Pre-conference Reading
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. (2014) by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Cherokee)
A “seminal” (Ed Keener) yet easily read historical narrative spanning pre-contact Native civilizations through contemporary times. Recommended as the introductory reading for this conference.
History, Oral History, and Contemporary Life About Original Boise Valley Peoples and Other Peoples who Traditionally Passed Through the Region
Legends of the Northern Paiute (2017) by Wilson Wewa (Northern Paiute, Palouse) and James A. Gardner
Oral history stories told by a Warm Springs keeper of culture, oral historian, and spiritual leader.
Nuwuvi: A Southern Paiute History(1976) by the Intertribal Council of Nevada
A history of traditions including food gathering, colonialism by “explorers, traders, and slavers,” (Intertribal Council), the coming of the Mormons, missionaries, and reservation life as told by the people with Dr. Floyd O’Neill, University of Utah. Can be accessed online at: https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6dr5qw2
A History of the Shoshone-Paiutes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation (1983) by Whitney McKinney
This history was a cooperative effort between the Institute of the American West in Sun Valley and The American West Center at University of Utah. Research and photographs gathered added to tribal archives.
History and Culture of the Boise Shoshone and Bannock Indians(2010) by William D. Edmo (Shoshone Bannock)
A compendium of historical research and cultural perspectives by a former Fort Hall Educator and Shoshone-Bannock High School Principal/Superintendent of Education.
Boise, The Peace Valley(1934, Reprinted 1975) by Annie Laurie Bird
“The book has historical information centered more on the encroachment on Native lands and encounters.” (Antoinette Cavanaugh) Researched and written by a Nampa, Idaho historian.
The Road on Which We Came: A History of the Western Shoshone/Po’I Pentun Tammen Kimmappeh(1994) By Stephan James Crum (Western Shoshone)
Tells the history of the Great Basin Shoshone as a strong people who have always had the agency to work to thrive even in the face of challenging high desert life and colonial incursion, and their resistance to efforts to mainstream them into society at large.
The Rocks are Ringing: Bannock-Paiute Indian War, Oregon, 1878 (2002) by Larry Hodgen (Bannock-Paiute ) and Larry Purchase (Bannock-Paiute)
Chronicles how the Bannock-Paiute people were among the last to resist incursion in a war that started in southern Idaho and ended near Meacham, Oregon with the death of Chief Egan. The history is recounted by descendants from Native and nonNative sides including the authors and elder Hubert Egan who was age 99 during the writing of this book.
The Way It Is: One Air, One Water, One Mother Earth (1995) by Corbin Harney (Newe Sogobia Western Shoshone)
Advocates for healing of the environment by an elder traditional teacher and spiritual leader.
The Nature Way (2009) by Corbin Harney (Newe Sogobia Western Shoshone), Tom Goldtooth (Diné, Dakota), Alex Purbrick
Autobiography of a Shoshone elder and traditional teacher and healer about his relationships with his family, his homeland, his people, and his advocacy for the protection of Mother Earth.
Violence over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West (2008) by Ned Blackhawk (Te-Moak Western Shoshone)
A scholarly history primarily of the Ute People along with personal family stories by a former University of Wisconsin, now Yale, history scholar.
The Northern Shoshoni (1980) by Brigham D. Madsen
A detailed history of the Shoshone people in Idaho and the surrounding region written in the 1980s.
The Bannock of Idaho (1958) by Brigham D. Madsen
A historical study of Idaho’s Shoshone Bannock people and their resistance to white incursion researched by a University of Utah scholar.
The Shoshoni Frontier and the Bear River Massacre (1985) by Brigham Madsen
Describes the situations leading up to and the realities of the massacre in Southeast Idaho near present day Preston that resulted in more deaths of Native people than any other massacre in US history.
Yellow Wolf: His Own Story (1940) by L. V. McWhorter
The life story in his own words of a Nez Perce leader, who was a contemporary of Chief Joseph, recounted from meetings over several decades by a neighboring Yakima, Washington rancher. This narrative provides critical understanding of the real experiences of Nimiipuu people at the turn of the century. Includes photographs.
A Little Bit of Wisdom (1997) by Horace P. Axtell (Nimiipuu/Nez Perce) and Margo Aragon
The life story with cultural and philosophical perspectives of a highly respected elder and spiritual leader told in his own words. Includes photographs.
Lewis and Clark Among the Nez Perce: Strangers in the Land of the Nimiipuu (2015) by Allen Pinkham (Nimiipuu/Nez Perce) and Steven R. Evans
A new look at the journals of Lewis and Clark and perspectives from oral histories of the Nimiipuu/Nez Perce.
United Voices: Awakening Cultural Understandings of Idaho’s Five Tribes (2018) by Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Kootenai Tribe, Nez Perce Tribe, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Shoshone-Paiute Tribes. Forward by Johanna J. Jones (Seminole Nation of Oklahoma), Vanessa Anthony-Stevens, Yolanda Bisbee (Nez Perce)
This collaborative work advocates for “Culturally Sustaining and Revitalizing Pedagogy” and is “an educational resource that should be used to enhance the understanding of Idaho’s five tribes and to stimulate critical dialogue with our current public school system as well as future generations of Idaho learners.” Includes histories, timelines, culture, creation stories, demographics, and present day importance of Idaho’s five tribes.
Other Books About Indigenous Peoples with Relevant Themes
The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present (2019) by David Treuer (Ojibwe, Leech Lake)
Clears misconceptions that the Native presence ended with the Wounded Knee Massacre, chronicling the diverse lives of Native peoples into the 20th Century through the age of technology of the 21st century.
God is Red: A Native View of Religion. 30th Anniversary Edition (2003) by Vine Deloria, Jr. (Hunkpapa, Standing Rock Lakota)
A classic, still relevant description of Native spiritual beliefs, relationships with the land and environment, the impact of colonialism into the 20th Century, and resistance including legal challenges and the American Indian Movement (AIM) by a revered scholar, jurist, and activist.
In the Courts of the Conquerer: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided (2012) by Walter R. Echo-Hawk (Pawnee)
A pithy yet engaging description of colonial ethnocentric perspectives and legal decisions that have negatively impacted the lives of Native peoples, their family life, their culture, and their nations, starting with the first colonial courts to the present day.
Braiding Sweetgrass (2013) by Robin Wall Kimmerer (Potawatomi)
A “skillful weaving of very different fields of knowledge: indigenous teachings that consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers and extensive scientific research about botany and ecology (SONWA)” by SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of environmental biology and the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.
Crazy Brave: A Memoir (2013) By Joy Harjo (Mvskoke Nation)
A frank and personal autobiography with selected poems by the acclaimed poet, musician, and playwright.
Urban Tribes: Native Americans in the City (2015) by Lisa Charleyboy (Tsilhqot’in) and Mary Beth Leatherdale, Editors
In this anthology, “young, urban Natives powerfully show how their culture and values can survive—and enrich—city life.” (Goodreads)
Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices (2016) Lisa Charleyboy (Tsilhqot’in) and Mary Beth Leatherdale, Editors
An anthology of writings, photos, poems, and art by young Native voices in an illustrated young adult magazine type format. Ages 12 and up.
Neither Wolf Nor Dog (2002) by Kent Nerburn
A narrative of the non-Native author’s education on the realities of Native life by a Oglala Lakota elder, this book was recommended to non-Native participants before going to Standing Rock for the Water Protection effort.
The Wolf at Twilight (2009) by Kent Nerburn
The second in the trilogy about the teachings of a Oglala Lakota elder focusing on the traumatic and cultural impacts of the “boarding schools” (Norm Cavanaugh) era on Native peoples.
1491: New Revelations of the America’s Before Columbus (2006) by Charles C. Mann
A well-researched description of selected Indigenous peoples of the Americas, their origins, and relationships with the land before the impact of colonization.
The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen (2017) by Sean Sherman (Oglala Lakota) and Beth Dooley
Winner of the 2018 James Beard award. Describes the turning from nutritionally deficient commodities and standard American diet staples to the resurgence of indigenous foods in the 21st century. Explains how this emphasis on local, traditional, clean, unprocessed foods in the face of diet-related disease in Native communities, has the power to restore health to Native, and for that matter, non Native peoples. Illustrated with full color photographs, the book contains recipes for healthy, delicious meals using indigenous ingredients.
The Mitsitam Café Cookbook: Recipes from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (2010) by Richard Hetzler, Nicolasa I Sandoval (Chumash), Renée Comet, Kevin Gover (Pawnee)
This vividly photographed book features recipes with indigenous ingredients spanning Indian Country from the award-winning restaurant. Recipes include Three Sisters Salad.
Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories, and Recipes from the Upper Midwest (2013) by Heid E. Erdich (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe)
Describes Native foods and their history in the western Great Lakes regions. Includes recipes such as wild rice.
Why Storms are Named After People and Bullets Remain Nameless (2017) By Tanaya Winder (Southern Ute, Duckwater Shoshone, and Pyramid Lake)
Poems about lives of Indigenous people, especially women—pain, strength, love, and hope from a young Native poet and educator.
Whereas (2017) By Layli Long Soldier (Oglala Lakota)
Poetry in response to the 2009 formal apology to Native peoples of the United States that was embedded in S.J. Res 14, a budget resolution in the Congressional Record.
New Poets of Native Nations (2018) by Heid E. Erdich (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe)
An anthology of poetry by Native writers of various nations whose first books were published in the 21st century.
The Round House (2012, reprinted 2013) by Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe)
Set on North Dakota Ojibwe reservation, “It is an exquisitely told story of a boy on the cusp of manhood who seeks justice and understanding in the wake of a terrible crime that upends and forever transforms his family . . . at once a powerful coming-of-age story, a mystery, and a tender, moving novel of family, history, and culture.” (Goodreads) Through narrative, informs the reader about sexual violence experienced by Native women who are currently twice as likely to be assaulted as non-Native women.
There There (2019) by Tommy Orange (Cheyenne and Arapaho)
A well-received debut novel told though the experiences of 12 well developed diverse characters about the contemporary life of urban Native peoples in Oakland, California. Selected as the Treasure Valley Reads book for 2019. Has some mature themes so best for older young adult and adult readers.
The Marrow Thieves (2017) by Cherie Dimaline (Georgian Bay Métis)
A dystopian novel through the eyes of teen characters describing what happens when non-Native people lose their ability to dream and only Indigenous people possess in their bone marrow the possibility of a serum cure, reminiscent of earlier threats to the survival of Native peoples. Written for young adults.
CHILDREN’S BOOKS (Ages are approximate)
For Older Children
The Birchbark House (2002) by Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe)
A chapter book based on family histories about an Ojibwe girl living near Lake Superior in 1847, the year of a small pox epidemic and how she embraces her family and culture. Ages 9-12.
Hidden Roots (2004) By Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki)
A sensitively told story of an 11 year old boy growing up in New York State in the 1950’s and how trauma experienced by his family has affected him. The book describes in a way children can understand the Vermont Eugenics Project from the 1930’s to the 1960’s, the forced sterilization of many Abenaki people—and its intergenerational impacts. Ages 9-12.
When We Play Our Drums, They Sing (2018) by Richard Van Camp and Tessa MacIntosh
The story of 12-year-old Dené Cho who is experiencing intergenerational trauma resulting from residential schools that removed First Nations children from their homes and how Elder Snowbird helps him “realize that understanding the past can ultimately change the future.” (Rand McNally).
The companion flipbook: Lucy & Lola (2018) by Monique Gray Smith and Julie Flett About “11-year-old twins who are heading to Gabriola Island, BC, to spend the summer with their Kookum (grandmother) while their mother studies for the bar exam. During their time with Kookum, the girls begin to learn about her experiences in being sent — and having to send their mother — to Residential school. Ultimately, they discover what it means to be intergenerational survivors.” (Rand McNally) Ages 9-13.
Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation (2017) Monique Gray Smith (Peepeekisis/Lakota)
A handbook to teach children about Canada’s work toward reconciliation following the systematic taking and placing of First Nations children in residential schools resulting in separation from family, child abuse, hunger and malnutrition, forced labor, illness, early death, loss of language and culture, and other intergenerational trauma in a way children can understand. Ages 9-13.
In the Footsteps of Crazyhorse (2015) by Joseph Marshall III (Sichangu Lakota) and James Mark Yellowhawk Itazipco Cheyenne River Lakota, Onandaga/Iroquoi)
The story of Jimmy, a Lakota boy, who learns from his grandfather about Crazyhorse, the revered warrior and leader, and ultimately about the person he himself is and wants to be. Beautifully vivid illustrations.
A 2019 Treasure Valley Reads selection for young readers ages 10-14.
For Younger Children
About the Original Boise Valley Peoples:
Brave as a Mountain Lion (1996) By Ann Herbert Scott and Glo Coalson
A wonderfully illustrated modern day story of a “Duck Valley child and his family” (Claire Manning Dick) and how he meets the challenge of a spelling bee. Inspired by the authors’ and illustrator’s visits to Duck Valley to learn about family ranch life in Owyhee, Nevada. Ages 6-10.
Cowboy Country (1993) Ann Herbert Scott and Ted Lewin
Tells the story of Nevada cowboys who are Native. Strikingly beautiful illustrations portraying ranch life. Ages 6-10.
Other Children’s Books by Native Authors and Others with Relevant Themes
My Heart Fills with Happiness (2016) byMonique Gray Smith (Peepeekisis/Lakota) and Julie Flett (Cree-Métis)
A delightfully illustrated book about Native children and their families savoring life’s joyful moments. Ages 2-4 or maybe even adults.
Good Luck Cat (2000) by Joy Harjo (Mvskoke) and Paul Lee
A charming and beautifully illustrated modern day story of a Native girl and her cat’s misadventures. Ages 3 to 7.
On Mother’s Lap (1992) Ann Herbert Scott and Glo Coalson
A beautifully illustrated story about the love an Alaskan Inuit family have for each other. “A little Inuit boy discovers there’s room for himself and his baby sister on their mother’s lap” (Goodreads). Ages 2-5.
Young Water Protectors: A Story About Standing Rock (2018) by Aslan Tudor and Kelly Tudor (Lipan Apache)
An “inspiring” (Birchbark Books) account written by an eight year old water protector and his mother about his experiences at Standing Rock as indigenous peoples from many nations and their allies gathered to protect water and maintain tribal rights from oil pipeline construction with the important message—“Mni Wiconi/Water is Life.” Illustrated with vivid photographs of a child’s life in the Oceti Sakowin camp. Ages 5 and up.
The First Strawberries (1998) by Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki) and Anna Vojtech
The “captivating re-telling of a Cherokee legend, which explains how strawberries came to be.” (Goodreads) Beautifully illustrated. Ages 3-5.
Jingle Dancer (2000) by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee)
A beautifully illustrated children’s story of a young Mvskoke/Anishinabe girl living in a diverse Native community in Oklahoma, who honors her family’s traditions to become a jingle dancer at a powwow. Ages 3-9.
Indian Shoes (2002) by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee)
A collection of illustrated stories told with bits of humor about a boy who is Cherokee/Seminole growing up in urban Chicago who trades in his hightops for moccasins to give to his beloved grandfather. Ages 7-10.
You Hold Me Up (2017) by Monique Gray Smith (Peepeekisis and Lakota)
With vivid illustrations of contemporary First Nations families and their friends, shows how people from all backgrounds can support each other. Ages 2 to adult.
A Day with Yayah (2017) by Nicola I Campbell (Interior Salish-Métis) Julie Flett (Cree-Métis)
A delightfully illustrated story of a First Nations Canadian grandmother teaching the next generations about gathering indigenous foods and following cultural traditions. Ages 6-9.
The Sugar Bush (1999) by Winona La Duke (Anishinaabe) and Waseyabin LaDuke Kapashesit (Anishinaabe and Cree)
Environmentalist and activist founder of Honor the Earth, Winona La Duke and her young daughter tell how the Anishinaabekwe of today follow traditions of their ancestors farming and harvesting maple syrup and wild rice. Includes recipes. Illustrated with vivid photographs of the authors living and working at White Earth. Ages 4-8.
Wild Berries (2013) by Julie Flett (Cree-Métis)
How a modern day boy, Clarence, and his grandmother take a walk in the woods observing a fox, spider, and ant while gathering wild berries, returning home to cook them. Illustrated with collage pictures by the artist author. Includes a recipe for blueberry jam. Ages 5-7.
Greet the Dawn: The Lakota Way (2012) by S.D. Nelson (Standing Rock Lakota)
Children, “pickup trucks and eagles, yellow school buses and painted horses, Mother Earth and Sister Meadowlark all join together to greet the dawn.” Wonderful bright illustrations. Ages 5-12.