YA Stories By and About Indigenous Peoples

YA Stories By and About Indigenous Peoples

Books that honor the contributions of the world's indigenous peoples—the descendants of a given region's original inhabitants—and the cultural heritage with which they continue to identify. As a way to engage with authentic representations of the indigenous cultures of the United States, these great titles feature Native American characters and authors.

Print the "YA Stories by and About Indigenous Peoples" list.


Compiled by:
Sam O.
After the Fall

Kate Hart
(Young Adult - Y Hart)

17-year-old Raychel is sleeping with two boys––her overachieving best friend Matt…and his slacker brother, Andrew. Raychel sneaks into Matt’s bed after nightmares, but nothing ever happens. He doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a girl, except when he decides she needs rescuing. But Raychel doesn't want to be his girl anyway. She just needs his support as she deals with the classmate who assaulted her, the constant threat of her family’s eviction, and the dream of college slipping quickly out of reach. The friendships are a precarious balance, and when tragedy strikes, everything falls apart. Raychel has to decide which pieces she can pick up––and which ones are worth putting back together.


Apple in the Middle

Dawn Quigley
(Juvenile Fiction - J Quigley)

Apple Starkington turned her back on her Native American heritage the moment she was called a racial slur for someone of White and Indian descent, not that she really even knew how to be an Indian in the first place. Too bad the White world doesn't accept her either.  Bouncing in the middle of two cultures, Apple meets her Indian relatives, shatters Indian stereotypes, and learns what it means to find her place in a world divided by color.


Elatsoe

Darcie Little Badger
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Littleb)

Elatsoe lives in this slightly stranger America. She can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Her beloved cousin has just been murdered, in a town that wants no prying eyes. The picture-perfect facade of Willowbee masks gruesome secrets, and she will rely on her wits, skills, and friends to tear off the mask and protect her family.


Firekeeper's Daughter

Angeline Boulley
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Boulle)

Daunis, who is part Ojibwe, defers attending the University of Michigan to care for her mother and reluctantly becomes involved in the investigation of a series of drug-related deaths.


Give Me Some Truth

Eric Gansworth
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Ganswor)

In 1980, life is hard on the Tuscarora Reservation in upstate New York, and most of the teenagers feel like they are going nowhere. Carson Mastick dreams of forming a rock band, and Maggi Bokoni longs to create her own conceptual artwork instead of the traditional beadwork that her family sells to tourists––but tensions are rising between the reservation and the surrounding communities, and somehow in the confusion of politics and growing up Carson and Maggi have to make a place for themselves.


The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, an American Legend

Bob Drury
(Adult Nonfiction – 921 Red Cloud Drury)

The untold story of the great Ogala Sioux chief Red Cloud, the most powerful Native American commander of the Plains who witnessed the opening of the West and forced the American government to sue for peace in a conflict named for him.


Hearts Unbroken

Cynthia Leitich Smith
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Smith)

When Louise Wolfe's boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over email. She'd rather spend her senior year with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper. The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, an ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time they find themselves with a major story to cover. As tensions mount at school, so does a romance between Lou and Joey. But "dating while Native" can be difficult.


House of Purple Cedar

Tim Tingle
(Adult Fiction – Tingle)

Skullyville, a once-thriving Choctaw community, was destroyed by land-grabbers, culminating in the arson on New Year's Eve, 1896, of New Hope Academy for Girls. Twenty Choctaw girls died, but Rose escaped. She is blessed by the presence of her grandmother Pokoni and her grandfather Amafo, both respected elders who understand the old ways. Soon after the fire, the White sheriff beats Amafo in front of the town, humiliating him. Instead of asking the Choctaw community to avenge the beating, her grandfather decides to follow the path of forgiveness. And so unwinds this tale of mystery, Indian-style magical realism, and deep wisdom. 


Ice Drift

Theodore Taylor
(Young Adult – Y Taylor)

The year is 1868, and 14-year-old Alika and his younger brother, Sulu, are hunting for seals on an ice floe attached to their island in the Arctic. Suddenly the ice starts to shake, and they hear a loud crack––the terrible sound of the floe breaking free from land. The boys watch with horror as the dark expanse of water between the ice and the shore rapidly widens, and they start drifting south––away from their home, their family, and everything they've ever known. Throughout their six-month-long journey down the Greenland Strait, the brothers face bitter cold, starvation, and most frightening of all, vicious polar bears. But they still remain hopeful that one day they'll be rescued.


If I Ever Get Out of Here

Eric L. Gansworth
(Young Adult - Y Ganswor)

Seventh-grader Lewis "Shoe" Blake from the Tuscarora Reservation has a new friend, George Haddonfield from the local Air Force base, but in 1975 upstate New York there is a lot of tension and hatred between Native Americans and Whites--and Lewis is not sure that he can rely on friendship.


In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse

Joseph Marshall
(Juvenile Fiction – J Marshal)

Teased for his fair coloring, eleven-year-old Jimmy McClean travels with his maternal grandfather, Nyles High Eagle, to learn about his Lakota heritage while visiting places significant in the life of Crazy Horse, the nineteenth-century Lakota leader and warrior, in a tale that weaves the past with the present.


Killer of Enemies

Joseph Bruchac
(Young Adult – Y Bruchac)

In a world that has barely survived an apocalypse that leaves it with pre-twentieth-century technology, Lozen is a monster hunter for four tyrants who are holding her family hostage.


Love Beyond Body, Space and Time: An Indigenous LGBT Sci-Fi Anthology

Hope Nicholson
- Editor
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Love)

This anthology of science fiction and urban fantasy stories stars First Nations and Metis characters with a LGBTQ+ and two-spirit theme.


The Marrow Thieves

Cherie Dimaline
(Young Adult - Y Dimaline)

In a world where most people have lost the ability to dream, a fifteen-year-old Indigenous boy who is still able to dream struggles for survival against an army of "recruiters" who seek to steal his marrow and return dreams to the rest of the world.


My Name Is Not Easy

Debby Dahl Edwardson
(Young Adult - Y Edwards)

Alaskans Luke, Chickie, Sonny, Donna, and Amiq relate their experiences in the early 1960s when they are forced to attend a Catholic boarding school where, despite different tribal affiliations, they come to find a sort of family and home.


Native Americans of East-Central Indiana

Chris Flook
(Adult Nonfiction – 970.4 Flo)

Native Americans lived, hunted, and farmed in East-Central Indiana for 2,000 years before the area became a part of the Hoosier state. Mounds and enclosures built by Adena and Hopewell peoples still stand near the White River and reflect their vibrant and mysterious cultures. The Lenape tribes moved to East-Central Indiana many years later after the Northwest Indian War. Place names like Delaware County, Muncie, Yorktown, and Anderson demonstrate the importance of the tribe in local history.


Notable Native People: 50 Indigenous Leaders, Dreamers, and Changemakers from Past and Present

Adrienne Keene
(Adult Nonfiction - 920 Kee)

An accessible and educational illustrated book profiling 50 notable American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian people. Celebrate the lives, stories, and contributions of Indigenous artists, activists, scientists, athletes, and other changemakers in this illustrated collection. Also offers accessible primers on important Indigenous issues, from the legacy of colonialism and cultural appropriation to food sovereignty, land and water rights, and more.


The Outside Circle

Patti Laboucane-Benson

Two Indigenous Australian brothers surrounded by poverty, drug abuse, and gang violence try to overcome centuries of historic trauma in very different ways to bring about positive change in their lives. Powerful, courageous, and deeply moving, the book is drawn from the author's twenty years of work and research on healing and reconciliation of gang-affiliated or incarcerated Indigenous Australian men.


Robopocalypse: A Novel

Daniel Wilson
(Science Fiction and Fantasy – SF Wilson)

Not far into our future, the dazzling technology that runs our world turns against us. Controlled by a childlike yet massively powerful artificial intelligence known as Archos, the global network of machines on which our world has grown dependent suddenly becomes an implacable, deadly foe. At Zero Hour—the moment the robots attack—the human race is almost annihilated, but as its scattered remnants regroup, humanity for the first time unites in a determined effort to fight back. This is the oral history of that conflict, told by an international cast of survivors who experienced this long and bloody confrontation with the machines.


Strangers

David Robertson
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Roberts)

When Cole Harper returns to Wounded Sky First Nation, he finds his community in chaos––a series of murders, a mysterious illness ravaging the population, and reemerging questions about Cole's role in the tragedy that drove him away ten years ago.


Trail of Lightning

Rebecca Roanhorse
(Science Fiction & Fantasy - SF Roanhor)

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters. Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. 


Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team

Steve Sheinkin
(Adult Nonfiction – 796.332 Sheinkin)

A great American sport and Native American history come together in this true story of how Jim Thorpe and Pop Warner created the legendary Carlisle Indians football team.


Graphic Novels

A Girl Called Echo: Pemmican Wars, Vol. 1

Katherena Vermette
(Graphic Novels - GN Girl Called Echo v. 1)

Echo Desjardins, a 13-year-old Métis girl adjusting to a new home and school, is struggling with loneliness while separated from her mother. When an ordinary day in Mr. Bee's history class turns extraordinary, Echo finds herself transported to another time and place––a bison hunt on the Saskatchewan prairie––and back again to the present. She visits a Métis camp, travels the old fur-trade routes, and experiences the perilous and bygone era of the Pemmican Wars.


Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection, Volume 1

Hope Nicholson
(Graphic Novels – GN Moonshot Indigenous Comics Collection v. 1)

This thrilling new collection showcases diverse aboriginal representation in comic books. Its stories of identity, culture, and spirituality are told by writers and artists from a range of communities across North America including many creators that identify as Métis, Inuit, Dene, Anishnaabe, Cree, Mi'kmaq, Caddo, Haida, Sioux, and Suquamish, among others. 


Redbone: The True Story of a Native American Rock Band

Christian Staebler
(Graphic Novel- GN 780.92 Redbone Sta)

Brothers Pat and Lolly Vegas were talented Native American rock musicians that took the 1960s Sunset Strip by storm. They influenced The Doors and jammed with Jimmy Hendrix before he was "Jimi," and the idea of a band made up of all Native Americans soon followed. Determined to control their creative vision and maintain their cultural identity, they eventually signed a deal with Epic Records in 1969. But as the American Indian Movement gained momentum, the band took a stand, choosing pride in their ancestry over continued commercial reward.


This Place: 150 Years Retold
- Various Authors
(Graphic Novels - GN This Place One Hundred Fifty Years Retold)

Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are an emotional and enlightening journey through Indigenous wonderworks, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.