YA Stories By and About Indigenous Peoples

YA Stories by and About Indigenous People

These books 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, authors, and stories.

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: Skin to the Core

Eric Gansworth
(Adult Nonfiction - 921 Gansworth Gan)

The term "Apple" is a slur in Native communities across the country. It's for someone supposedly "red on the outside, white on the inside." Eric Gansworth is telling his story in Apple: Skin to the Core—the story of his family, of Onondaga among Tuscaroras, of Native folks everywhere. From the horrible legacy of the government boarding schools, to a boy watching his siblings leave and return and leave again, to a young man fighting to be an artist who balances multiple worlds. Eric shatters that slur and reclaims it in verse, prose, and imagery that truly lives up to the word "heartbreaking."

Dreaming in Indian

Lisa Charleyboy
(Adult Nonfiction – 704.0397 Dre)

This anthology features art and writings from some of the most groundbreaking Native artists working in North America today. Whether addressing the effects of residential schools, calling out bullies through personal manifestos, or simply citing hopes for the future, Dreaming In Indian refuses to shy away from difficult topics.


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.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask

Anton Treuer
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 970.01 Tre)

Ranging from "Why is there such a fuss about non-Native people wearing Indian costumes for Halloween?" to "What's it like for Natives who don't look Native?" and beyond, Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask does exactly what its title says for young readers—in a style consistently thoughtful, personal, and engaging. 

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.

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, as she comes to find out, "dating while Native" can be difficult.

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.

Killer of Enemies

Joseph Bruchac
(Young Adult – Y Bruchac)

In a world that has barely survived an apocalypse that leaves it with pre-20th 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 an 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 15-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.


Stephen Graham Jones
(Adult Fiction – Jones)

Poor yet resilient, the boy lives in the shadows with his Aunt Libby and Uncle Darren, folk who stubbornly make their way in a society that does not understand or want them. They're always on the move across the South, living a life of late-night exits and narrow escapes, one step ahead of the law, but everything is about to change. The boy will be turning 16, and he will need to understand his family and his place in the world—a world that shuns and fears werewolves.

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.

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.

#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women

Lisa Charleyboy
(Adult Nonfiction - 818 Not)

#Not Your Princess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.


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 re-emerging questions about Cole's role in the tragedy that drove him away 10 years ago.

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet

Jenny Ferguson
(Young Adult Fiction - Ferguso)

Lou has enough confusion in front of her this summer—she'll be working in her family's ice cream shack with her former best friend, King, who is back in their Canadian prairie town after disappearing three years ago. But, when she gets a letter from her biological father, Lou immediately knows that she cannot meet him. While King's friendship makes Lou feel safer, when her family's business comes under threat, she soon realizes that she can't ignore her father forever.

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.

Walking in Two Worlds

Wab Kinew
(Young Adult Fiction – Y Kinew)

Bugz is caught between two worlds. In the real world, she's a shy and self-conscious Indigenous teen who faces the stresses of teenage angst and reserve life. But in the virtual world, her alter ego is not just confident but dominant in a massive multiplayer video game universe. Feng is a teen boy who has been sent from China to live with his aunt, a doctor on the reserve, after his online activity suggests he may be developing extremist sympathies. As Bugz and Feng's connection is strengthened through their virtual adventures, they find they have much in common in the real world, too—both must decide what to do in the face of temptations and pitfalls, and both must grapple with the impact of family and community trauma.

Graphic Novels
Four Faces of the Moon

Amanda Strong
(Graphic Novels - GN Strong Four Faces Of The Moon)

On a journey to uncover her family's story, Spotted Fawn travels through time and space to reclaim connection to ancestors, language, and the land—creating a path forward in this essential graphic novel.

If I Go Missing

Brianna Jonnie
(Graphic Novels - GN 305.48897 Jon)

Combining graphic fiction and non-fiction, this graphic novel serves as a window into one of the unique dangers of being an Indigenous teen in Canada today. The text of the book is derived from excerpts of a letter written to the Winnipeg Chief of Police by 14-year-old Brianna Jonnie—a letter that went viral and in which Jonnie calls out the authorities for neglecting to immediately investigate and involve the public in the search for missing Indigenous people. She also urges them to not "treat me as the Indigenous person I am proud to be" if she were ever to be reported missing. 

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.

Surviving the City

Tasha Spillett
(Graphic Novels - GN Spillet Surviving The City)

Miikwan and Dez are best friends. Miikwan's Anishinaabe; Dez is Inninew. Together, the teens navigate the challenges of growing up in an urban landscape—they're so close, they even completed their Berry Fast together. However, when Dez's grandmother becomes too sick, Dez is told she can't stay with her anymore. With the threat of a group home looming, Dez can't bring herself to go home and disappears. Miikwan is devastated, and the wound of her missing mother resurfaces. Will Dez's community find her before it's too late? Will Miikwan be able to cope if they don't?

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.