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  • Writer's pictureNora Curry

Indigenous Peoples' Day

In 2019, Governor Mills signed a bill to reestablish the day formerly celebrated as Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples' Day, a holiday that is currently recognized by fourteen states. This year on October 11th, therefore, we celebrate our third official Indigenous Peoples' Day—and a rich celebration of identity, culture, and history it is!

Maine has been the home of its Native peoples for more than 12,000 years. The four Indian tribes still present in Maine (the Maliseet, Micmac, Penobscot, and Passamaquody) are known collectively as the Wabanaki or "People of the Dawnland" and formed the Wabanaki Alliance in 2020 in order "to educate people of Maine about the need for securing sovereignty of the tribes in Maine" (Maine Dept of Ed). As the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor explains, "each community maintains its own tribal government, community schools, cultural center and each manages its respective lands and natural resources. Although most of Maine's Native people belong to one of these four federally recognized groups and reside on tribal lands, other Native people live in towns and cities across the State."

The Abbe Museum is a wonderful source, both online and on site, of information about Maine's Indigenous peoples, while the Maine State Museum in Augusta offers great advice about further online resources available here. Additionally, First Light, self-described as a "bridge between conservation organizations and Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet and Micmac Communities who seek to expand Wabanaki stewardship of land," provides a wealth of historical and current information about the Wabanaki alliance, as well as further resources. Wabanaki REACH similarly offers contemporary information about educations and rights for these communities.

If you'd like to hit the books this Indigenous Peoples' Day, please explore the reading list below to discover novels, poetry, short stories, memoirs, biographies, a wealth of varied nonfiction books, and titles for both children and teens, all about Indigenous cultures and/or by Indigenous authors. Click the titles to read more about each one or to request it from the Minerva catalog.


Empire of Wild, Cherie Dimaline

Perma Red, Debra Magpie Earling

The Night Watchman, Louise Erdrich

Sabrina & Corina: stories, Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Where the Dead Sit Talking, Brendon Hobson

My Heart is a Chainsaw, Stephen Graham Jones

Last Standing Woman, Winona LaDuke

Living on the Borderline: stories, Melissa Michal

House Made of Dawn, N. Scott Momaday

There There, Tommy Orange

The Beadworkers: stories, Beth Piatote

Trail of Lightning, Rebecca Roanhorse

Moon of the Crusted Snow, Waubgeshig Rice

Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko

This Town Sleeps, Dennis E. Staples

Split Tooth, Tanya Tagaq

Cherokee America, Margaret Verble

The Break, Katherena Vermette

Indian Horse, Richard Wagamese

Winter in the Blood, James Welch

The Seed Keeper, Diane Wilson


When My Brother Was an Aztec, Natalie Diaz

New Poets of Native Nations, ed. Heid E. Erdrich

An American Sunrise: poems, Joy Harjo

Whereas, Layli Long Soldier

Feed, Tommy Pico

Eyes Bottle Dark With a Mouthful of Flowers: poems, Jake Skeets

Memoirs and Biographies

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: a memoir, Sherman Alexie

Lakota Woman, Mary Brave Bird

Poet Warrior, Joy Harjo

Heart Berries: a memoir, Terese Marie Mailhot

Mamaskatch: a Cree coming of age, Darrel J. McLeod

Other Nonfiction

We Are Still Here: a photographic history of the American Indian Movement, Dick Bancroft

Norumbega Reconsidered, Mawooshen and the Wawenoc Diaspora: the indigenous communities of the central Maine coast in protohistory, 1535-1620, H.G. Brack

Trails of Tears, Paths of Beauty, Joseph Bruchac

Indigenous Community: rekindling the teachings of the seventh fire, Gregory Cajete

Custer Died for Your Sins: an Indian manifesto, Vine Deloria

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Our History is the Future, Nick Estes

Notes on a Lost Flute: a field guide to the Wabanaki, Kerry Hardy

Dwellings: a spiritual history of the living world, Linda Hogan

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the teachings of plants, Robin Wall Kimmerer

The Lakota Way: stories and lessons for living, Joseph M. Marshall III

Indians in Eden: Wabanakis & rusticators on Maine's Mount Desert Island 1840s-1920s, Bunny McBride

Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s, Tiffany Midge

Sacred Instructions: Indigenous wisdom, Sherri Mitchell

Unsettled Past, Unsettled Future: the story of Maine Indians, Neil Rolde

Baskets of Time: profiles of Maine Indian basket makers, David Shultz

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: native America from 1890 to the present, David Treuer

Shapes of Native Nonfiction: collected essays by contemporary writers, ed. Elissa Washuta & Theresa Warburton

The Right to Be Cold: one woman's fight to protect the Arctic and save the planet from climate change, Sheila Watt-Cloutier

As Long as Grass Grows: the indigenous fight for environmental justice from colonization to Standing Rock, Dina Gilio-Whitaker

Dawnland Voices: an anthology of indigenous writing from New England

North by Northeast: Wabanaki, Akwesasne Mohawk, and Tuscarora traditional arts


First Light: traditional Wabanaki music, Laura Lee Perkins

Dawnland (film)

Young Adult

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, Sherman Alexie

Firekeeper's Daughter, Angeline Boulley

Code Talker: a novel about the Navajo Marines of World War Two, Joseph Bruchac

#NotYourPrincess: voices of Native American women, ed. Lisa Charleyboy & Mary Beth Leatherdale

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese)

If I Ever Get Out of Here, Eric Gansworth

Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger

Rain Is Not My Indian Name, Cynthia Leitich Smith

This Place: 150 years retold


The Pencil, Susan Avingaq

Peacemaker, Joseph Bruchac

Malian's Song, Marge Bruchaco

The Sea in Winter, Christine Day

We Are Water Protectors, Carole Lindstrom

Encounter, Brittany Luby

Fry Bread: a Native American family story, Kevin Noble Maillard

The Canoe Maker: David Moses Bridges, Passamaquoddy birch bark artisan, Jean Flahive & Donald Soctomah

What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous stories of rebellion and renewal, Eldon Yellowhorn

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