• Brett Chapman

Native American book recommendations from Native Americans

I am asked for Native American book recommendations on a daily basis. I recently tweeted my top three book recommendations and asked the Native American community on Twitter (#NativeTwitter) to provide their book recommendations. Hundreds of people replied with a variety of titles numbering over 150 books. Here are the most recommended Native American books by Native Americans themselves:

My top three must-read Native American book recommendations are:

  1. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown is a classic and probably the most widely known book about Native Americans to contemporary Americans today. Brown challenges the American myth of the Indian Wars (1860-1890) from a Native American point of view that is critical of the United States government. Chapter 15 is about my maternal great great great grandfather Chief White Eagle who was the hereditary chief of the Ponca during the illegal Ponca Trail of Tears in 1877. Over 200 of his people died, including his wife, four of his children, and his father (my great great great great grandfather) Chief Iron Whip who signed the broken treaty with Abraham Lincoln in 1865. His vice chief Standing Bear sued and became the first Native American to win civil rights in 1879 — fourteen years after the Union freed all the slaves.

  2. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles Mann challenges longstanding stereotypes about the indigenous peoples of the Americas before and after the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492.

  3. "I Am a Man": Chief Standing Bear's Journey for Justice by Joe Starita is a more detailed and personal view of the Ponca Trail of Tears and Chief Standing Bear's status as an American civil rights hero.


Turning now to the recommendations of the larger Native American community on Twitter, the single most recommended author is Louise Erdrich and the historical figure who is the subject of the most book recommendations is Crazy Horse of the Lakota Sioux. Other than my top three recommendations listed above, the top ten most recommended books receiving multiple recommendations by Native Americans on Twitter are:

  1. Black Elk Speaks by John Gneisenau Neihardt

  2. There There by Tommy Orange

  3. God Is Red by Vine Deloria Jr.

  4. Custer Died for Your Sins by Vine Deloria Jr.

  5. The Other Slavery by Andrés Reséndez

  6. The Way to Rainy Mountain by N. Scott Momaday

  7. Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne

  8. Crazy Horse by Mari Sandoz

  9. Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

  10. An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

As I noted above, the Native American community on Twitter mentioned well over one hundred books that I have not listed here. To see these books, read the comments on this tweet: