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The Best Indian Books

Some links on the subject of Native American literature, books, and authors:

Native literature in general
Native American Literature:  Remembrance, Renewal
Tribes Stay Visible Through Words

Native children's literature
American Indians in Children's Literature

Noteworthy Native authors—according to one list
Sherman Alexie
Paula Gunn Allen
Black Elk
Beth Brant
Joseph Bruchac III
Mary Crow Dog
Ella Cara Deloria
Vine Deloria Jr.
Charles Alexander Eastman
Louise Erdrich
Richard Erdoes
Jack D. Forbes
Hanay Geiogamah
Tim A. Giago
Diane Glancy
Janet Campbell Hale
Joy Harjo
Linda Hogan
Basil Johnston
Thomas King
D'Arcy McNickle
N. Scott Momaday
Mountain Wolf Woman
Alfonso Ortiz
Simon Ortiz
Alexander Lawrence Posey
Wendy Ross
Leslie Silko
Gerald Vizenor
James Welch
Rosebud Yellow Robe

More authors
Native American Authors Project


The 2000-2002 survey
Below is a list of the best Indian books as voted by our correspondents from 2000 to 2002. By "Indian books" I mean books by and about Native Americans, fiction or nonfiction. By "best" I mean the books we love or enjoy the most—the books we would recommend most hearily to others. That's not the same as the books we deem the "most important." Works as diverse as the Bible, the Constitution, and Moby-Dick may be important, but they aren't necessarily the works we read most often.

Other sites list all the books, or just one person's favorites, but I tried for some consensus about the "best." Because people could submit only 10 books here, this list remains selective rather than comprehensive. And since none of us can read every Indian book published, the list is arbitrary and incomplete.

The top vote-getters Votes
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven—Sherman Alexie 8
Reservation Blues—Sherman Alexie 8
Custer Died for Your Sins—Vine Deloria Jr. 7
Red Earth, White Lies—Vine Deloria Jr. 5
Reinventing the Enemy's Language—Joy Harjo and Gloria Bird, eds. 5
Indian Killer—Sherman Alexie 5
The Grass Dancer—Susan Power 5
Ceremony—Leslie Marmon Silko 4
Black Elk Speaks—John G. Neihardt (preface) 4
Where White Men Fear to Tread—Russell Means and Marvin J. Wolf 4
Lame Deer:  Seeker of Visions—John Fire, et al. 4
The Business of Fancydancing:  Stories and Poems—Sherman Alexie 4
House Made of Dawn—N. Scott Momaday 4
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee—Dee Brown 4
God Is Red:  A Native View of Religion—Vine Deloria Jr. 3
Aztec—Gary Jennings 3
500 Nations—Alvin M. Josephy Jr. 3
Wilderness:  The True Story of Simon Girty—Timothy Truman 3
Touch the Earth:  A Self-Portrait of Indian Existence—T.C. McLuhan 3
Dance Me Outside—W.P. Kinsella 3
A Sorrow in Our Heart:  The Life of Tecumseh—Allan W. Eckert 3
Almanac of the Dead:  A Novel—Leslie Marmon Silko 3
Love Medicine—Louise Erdrich 3
A Yellow Raft in Blue Water—Michael Dorris 3
Indian Givers—Jack Weatherford 3
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse—Peter Matthiessen 2
She Had Some Horses—Joy Harjo 2
Waterlily—Ella Deloria 2
Prison Writings:  My Life Is My Sun Dance—Leonard Peltier, et al. 2
Stone Song:  A Novel of the Life of Crazy Horse—Win Blevins 2
Ravenshadow—Win Blevins 2
That Dark and Bloody River—Allan W. Eckert 2
Panther in the Sky—James Alexander Thom 2
The Spirit World (American Indians)—Time-Life 2
The World of the American Indian—National Geographic 2
Woman Who Glows in the Dark—Joy Parker, Elena Avila, et al. 2
Death and Rebirth of the Seneca—Anthony F.C. Wallace 2
Encyclopedia of Native American Shamanism—William S. Lyon 2
Encyclopedia of Native American Religions—Arlene Hirschfelder, et al. 2
Dictionary of Native American Mythology—Sam D. Gill, et al. 2
Spirit of the Harvest—Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs 2
Harper's Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry—Duane Niatum, ed. 2
The Moccasin Telegraph—W.P. Kinsella 2
Among the Dog Eaters:  Poems—Adrian C. Louis 2
Storyteller—Leslie Marmon Silko 2
First Person, First Peoples—Andrew Garrod and Colleen Larimore, editors, et al. 2
Native Wisdom:  Perceptions of the Natural Way—Ed McGaa, et al. 2
The Ways of My Grandmothers—Beverly Hungry Wolf 2
Gardens in the Dunes—Leslie Marmon Silko 2
Before Our Journey's Through—Linde Knighton 2
Fools Crow—James Welch 2
Pigs in Heaven—Barbara Kingsolver 1
Pastwatch:  The Redemption of Christopher Columbus—Orson Scott Card 1
Shadows of the Indian—Raymond William Stedman 1
Solstice:  The Art of Roy Henry Vickers—Roy Henry Vickers 1
Ancient America—David Muench 1
Into the Heart—Kenneth Good 1
Native America:  Arts, Traditions, and Celebrations—Christine Mather 1
Coyote Blue—Christopher Moore 1
Pueblos, Gods & Spaniards—John Upton Terrell 1
Hunting Badger—Tony Hillerman 1
Treasures of the Hopi—Theda Bassman 1
The Face-Changers—Thomas Perry 1
The Indian Lawyer—James Welch 1
Animal Dreams—Barbara Kingsolver 1
1812: The Rivers of War—Eric Flint 1
The Indian Chronicles—Jose Barreiro 1
Green Grass, Running Water—Thomas King 1
PrairyErth (A Deep Map)—William Least Heat Moon 1
The Death of Bernadette Lefthand—Ron Querry 1
Shadow Catcher:  A Novel—Charles Fergus 1
Killing Custer—James Welch 1
From the Glittering World:  A Navajo Story—Irvin Morris 1
Crazy Horse—Larry McMurtry 1
Blood of the Land—Rex Weyler 1
Agents of Repression—Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall 1
Wampum Belts & Peace Trees—Gregory Schaaf 1
The Iroquois—Barbara Graymont 1
American Holocaust:  The Conquest of the New World—David Stannard 1
Exiled in the Land of the Free—Oren Lyons, et al. 1
Since Predator Came—Ward Churchill 1
The Native Americans—David Hurst Thomas 1
Fools Crow—Fools Crow, Thomas E. Mails, and D. Chief Eagle 1
Fools Crow:  Wisdom and Power—Thomas E. Mails 1
Saanii Dahataal:  The Women Are Singing—Luci Tapahanso 1
Food and Spirits—Beth Brant 1
The Heirs of Columbus—Gerald Vizenor 1
The Sixth Grandfather—Raymond J. DeMalle, editor 1
The Gospel of the Redman—Ernest Thompson Seton and Julia M. Seton 1
The Native American Book of Wisdom—White Deer of Autumn, et al. 1
The Native American Book of Knowledge—White Deer of Autumn, et al. 1
The Native American Book of Change—White Deer of Autumn, et al. 1
The Native American Book of Life—White Deer of Autumn, et al. 1
Off the Reservation—Paula Gunn Allen 1
Standing in the Light:  A Lakota Way of Seeing—Seivert Young Bear, et al. 1
Last Standing Woman—Winona LaDuke 1
Singing for a Spirit—Vine Deloria Jr. 1
Old Shirts and New Skins—Sherman Alexie 1
Who Would Unbraid Her Hair—Antoinette Nora Claypoole, et al. 1
Black Indians:  A Hidden Heritage—William Loren Katz 1
Reuben Snake, Your Humble Serpent—Jay C. Fikes, edtior, et al. 1
Digger:  The Tragic Fate of the California Indians—Jerry Stanley 1
Son of Old Man Hat:  A Navaho Autobiography—Walter Dyk 1
Mabel McKay:  Weaving the Dream—Greg Sarris 1
Bluefeather Fellini in the Sacred Realm—Max Evans 1
Crazy Horse:  The Strange Man of the Oglala—Mari Sandoz 1
We Are a People in This World—Conger Beasley 1
The Rock Child—Win Blevins 1
The First Eagle—Tony Hillerman 1
Ishi in Two Worlds—Theodora Kroeber 1
Eagle Vision:  Return of the Hoop—Ed McGaa 1
Mother Earth Spirituality—Ed McGaa 1
Rainbow Tribe—Ed McGaa 1
Buffalo Woman Comes Singing—Brooke Medicine Eagle 1
Dreaming With the Wheel—Sun Bear, Wabun Wind, and Shawnodese 1
The Wind Is My Mother—Bear Heart, et al. 1
The Politics of Hallowed Ground—Mario Gonzalez and Elizabeth Cook-Lynn 1
Power:  A Novel—Linda Hogan 1
Hanta Yo—Ruth Beebe Hill 1
Tecumseh:  A Life—John Sudgen 1
Allan W. Eckert's Tecumseh!—Allan W. Eckert and Timothy Truman 1
Realm of the Iroquois (American Indians)—Time-Life 1
The Shawnee Prophet—R. David Edmunds 1
The Iroquois—Barbara Graymont, et al. 1
Women in American Indian Society—Rayna Green 1
The Woman's Way (American Indians)—Time-Life 1
Spider Woman's Granddaughters—Paula Gunn Allen, editor 1
Native American Religion—Nancy Bonvillain 1
Coyote's Council Fire—Loren Cruden 1
The Maya—Frank W. Porter III, editor, and Lawana Hooper Trout 1
Manual for the Peacemaker—Jean Houston and Margaret Rubin (contributor) 1
Parker on the Iroquois—Arthur Caswell Parker 1
Seneca Myths and Folk Tales—Arthur Caswell Parker 1
Red Jacket, Seneca Chief—Arthur Caswell Parker 1
Indians in Pennsylvania—Paul A.W. Wallace 1
Iroquois Stories—Joseph Bruchac and Daniel Burgevin (illustrator) 1
The Lenapes—Robert S. Grumet 1
American Indian Literatures—A. Lavonne Brown Ruoff 1
Shaking the Pumpkin—Jerome Rothenberg, editor 1
Encyclopedia of Mesoamerica—Stephen Bunson and Margaret R. Bunson 1
Encyclopedia of North American Indians—Frederick E. Hoxie, editor 1
Handbook of North American Indians:  Northeast Vol. 15—William C. Sturtevant 1
Who Was Who in Native American History—Carl Waldman, editor 1
Medicine River—Thomas King 1
Talking God—Tony Hillerman 1
Children of the Dust—Clancy Carlile 1
Quanah Parker (War Chiefs No. 4)—Bill Dugan 1
North American Indian Jewelry and Adornment—Lois Sherr Dubin, et al. 1
North American Indians:  A Comprehensive Account—Alice Beck Kehoe 1
The Light on the Tent Wall—Mary TallMountain 1
Blood Thirsty Savages—Adrian C. Louis 1
River Song—Craig Lesley 1
The Fencepost Chronicles—W.P. Kinsella 1
Wisdomkeepers—Harvey Arden, Steve Wall, and White Deer of Autumn 1
Stickman:  John Trudell—John Trudell 1
The Earth Shall Weep:  A History of Native America—James Wilson 1
Blackfoot Physics—F. David Peat 1
Rocks Begin to Speak—Lavan Martineau 1
A Snake in Her Mouth:   Poems 1974-96—Nila Northsun 1
Snake Poems:  An Aztec Invocation—Francisco X. Alarcon 1
A People's History of the United States—Howard Zinn 1
Navajo and Tibetan Sacred Wisdom:  The Circle of the Spirit—Peter Gold 1
Seventh Son—Orson Scott Card 1
Red Prophet (Tales of Alvin Maker, No 2)—Orson Scott Card 1
Prentice Alvin—Orson Scott Card 1
A Handbook of Native American Herbs—Alma R. Hutchens 1
Men on the Moon:  Collected Short Stories (Sun Tracks, v. 37)—Simon J. Ortiz 1
Way to Rainy Mountain—N. Scott Momaday and Al Momaday (illustrator) 1
Fugitive Colors—Chrystos 1
Dream On—Chrystos 1
Fire Power—Chrystos 1
Slash—Jeannette Armstrong 1
The People's Land:  Inuit, Whites, and the Eastern Arctic—Hugh Brody 1
Song of Rita Joe:  Autobiography of a Mi'Kmaq Poet—Rita Joe 1
Laughing Boy—Oliver LaFarge 1
A Thief of Time—Tony Hillerman 1
Skinwalkers—Tony Hillerman 1
Native Roots:  How the Indians Enriched America—Jack Weatherford 1
Savages and Civilization:  Who Will Survive?—Jack Weatherford 1
And Still the Waters Run—Angie Debo 1
Look to the Mountain:  An Ecology of Indigenous Education—Gregory Cajete 1
Native American Testimony—Peter Nabokov, ed. 1
Woven Stone (Sun Tracks, Vol. 21)—Simon J. Ortiz 1
Two Old Women:  An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival—Velma Wallis 1
Native American Literature:  An Anthology—Lawana Trout, ed. 1
First Indian on the Moon—Sherman Alexie 1
In Mad Love and War—Joy Harjo 1
The Surrounded (A Zia Book)—D'Arcy McNickle 1
The Vision—Anukasa Mota (Gray Eagle) 1
Picture Maker—Penina Keen Spinka 1
Total votes 295

Other books worth mentioning

The Court-Martial of George Armstrong Custer—Douglas Smith
Lies My Teacher Told Me—James W. Loewen
Book of the Hopi—Frank Waters
Hopi—Susanne and Jake Page
Indian Time—Judith Fein
The Stolen Gods—Jake Page
Indians Are Us?—Ward Churchill
Apacheria—Jake Page
America's Fascinating Indian Heritage—Reader's Digest Books
Through Indian Eyes—Reader's Digest Books
The Dark Wind—Tony Hillerman
American Indian Quotations—Howard J. Langer
Trail of the Spanish Bit—Don Coldsmith
Sky Woman Falling—Kirk Mitchell
Playing Indian—Philip Deloria
The Truth About Stories—Thomas King
Ray Manley's Indian Lands—Clara Lee Tanner
Mesa Verde National Park: Life, Earth, Sky—Susan Lamb
Double Homicide—Jonathan and Faye Kellerman
The North American Indian—Edward S. Curtis
Vanishing Act—Thomas Perry


Finally, some ongoing commentary on Native literature, books, and authors:

Commentary on Native literature in general
All about Native literature
Finding Native porn
Calling a spade a spade
Conley on Native fiction
Custer & His Naked Ladies
Best Native fiction wanted
Generalizing about Indians
Indian (writer) wannabes
Beware of "Native" books
NEA recommends Native books
Treuer stands for tradition
No such thing as "Indian fiction"?
How to write children's books about Indians
Native writers gather in Arizona
Books misrepresent Indians
Only Indians know Indians?
Recommended Native American books for all libraries
Dancing Badger's recommended reading
Best Native mystery writers
Stories not just entertainment
The mythology of the vanishing Indian
Bias in the bookstacks

Commentary on particular Native-themed books and authors
Linda Hogan goes home
Tribal colleges write books
Edward Curtis the hero?
Book about Aboriginal hockey players
Cherokee and Comanche page-turners
Book explores military stereotypes
Inuit in The Cage
Another novel about casino corruption
Babar's Eurocentrism
What's wrong with Grizzly Bob?
I isn't for Indian
Carl Brandon Society's recommendations
Red people flee Red Planet
"What if" stories about Indians
Karen Kay's conservativism
Excerpt from The Last Warrior
"Authentic Indian" romance writer
Thoughts on Hillerman's books
Hillerman's land of enchantment
A Hillerman appreciation
Tony Hillerman dies
Nine Arapaho photographs
Review of Wife of Moon
Coel's new thriller
Part-Tlingit thriller wins awards
Review of Lankford's Legends
Tricksters around the world
Review of Nature Girl
"Balanced" view of Wounded Knee
Custer & His Naked Ladies
Alternate history:  Eric Flint's 1812
Slammin' young Native poets
Drew Hayden Taylor's latest
Indigenous epic fantasy
Imagining a girl warrior
Indian Super-Detective
Tlingit elder derides Mikaelsen
Indian history in Mustang
Horse sense in Mustang
Bad books since 2000
Debate over Touching Bear Spirit
Hummingbird fights fire
Ozians just like Indians
2008 Lacapa winner
Tree House authors visit Navajo
Loose ends in Loose End
English stories aren't Indian stories?
"Folklore" should be fiction
American mom vs. Indian educator
Sovereign Nation of the Year
Summing up Miko Kings
Review of The Switch
Author fabricated Native memoir
Erdrich in the New Yorker
The other Erdrichs
The three Erdrich sisters
Another award for Momaday
Review of Vanishing Act
Trashy novels trash Indians
Romance writer copies Native books
Choctaw vs. terrorists
Review of The North American Indian
Curtis books sell for $1 million
Native writers on CD
Trudell's poetry and philosophy
Momaday to get medal
Dances with Wolves, the novels
Review of Animal Dreams
Moonbeam Award for Wind Bird
Review of Dancing on the Rim of the World
Tlingit wins American Book Award
Penguin books about Indians
Review of Double Homicide
Review of America Is Indian Country
Review of Eye of the Wolf
Coel mystery involves AIM
Q&A with Cheryl Kaye Tardif
Bullying, racism, and Whale Song
Review of The Spirit Woman
Native youth in poetry slam
Blackfeet classic won't be censored
Who may tell Native stories?
Review of The X-Files: Ruins
Review of The Sinister Pig
Momaday the poet laureate
Bad Michigan books
Edward Curtis, The Shadow Catcher
Review of D Is for Drum
Isabel Allende's Daughter of Fortune
We, Some People
Chabon's Jewish/Tlingit novel
Review of Coyote Blue
Wind Bird: Gift of the Mist
James Welch's The Indian Lawyer
All about Linda Hogan
Isabel Allende's Zorro
Fiction about uranium miners
More books on codetalkers
Over-the-top Jamestown parody
New codetalker novel
First Indian literary writer
My Amazon list
Fantasy in the Native tradition
The Truth About Stories
Kingsolver's books worth reading
The Face-Changers:  Jane to the rescue!
Mystery books with Native American women as main characters
Capote inspired by Indian
Sky Woman Falling
Satisfactory Ceremony
Civilization killed Dolphins woman
Unpredictable Pilgrims and Indians
Recommended reading:  The Trail of the Spanish Bit
Robinson Crusoe and Friday
The Song of Hiawatha
Quileute werewolves in Twilight
Little House on the Prairie
Loose ends in Loose End
All about Sherman Alexie
Thirteen Moons
Educating about Little Tree
Louis L'Amour's Last of the Breed
Guns, Germs, and Steel
Dennis Prager and The Ecological Indian

Related links
The best Indian movies
TV shows featuring Indians
Comic books featuring Indians

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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

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