3 Spectacular Native American Stories You Need to Read

This week’s Three To Read recommends some incredible fiction from Native American authors that center on Indigenous culture and characters. Read on to learn more!

Recommendations Three To Read
Three to read banner featureing the featured books of the week for Native American Heritage

As Native American Heritage Month comes to a close, we want to highlight some incredible stories about Native American characters by Native American authors. This list provides a range of stories and authors for you to explore, so whether you’re looking for fantasy, historical fiction, or horror, we’ve got you covered. Don’t miss some of the most beloved and highly lauded Native American stories of 2023, brought to you in this week’s Three To Read!

HOT PICK

VenCo by Cherie Dimaline

VenCo cover by Cherie Dimaline, yellow birds perching on the book title.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSHOP.ORG

SYNOPSIS:

Lucky St. James is about to be evicted from the Toronto apartment she shares with her grandmother, Stella when she discovers a silver spoon hidden inside her wall. Unbeknownst to Lucky, the spoon tethers her to a network of witches all across North America. Under the guise of a company called VenCo, these witches work to usher in a new era that will see women inhabiting their rightful power. However, they need all seven silver spoons to complete this mission, so Lucky and Stella embark on a journey to find the last spoon, culminating in an epic showdown that will determine the future of not only VenCo but the entire world.

WHY:

VenCo is a thrilling supernatural adventure, complete with witches, witch hunters, and a cross-country road trip. Dimaline uses witchcraft as a lens through which to explore the magic, beauty, and power of womankind, as well as the bonds that connect us to our families — both the ones we’re born into and the ones we choose. Gripping, inventive, and funny, VenCo is a story like no other. You won’t want to miss this fantastical romp across North America!

COFFEE SHOP READ

Never Whistle at Night Edited by Shane Hawk and Theodore C. Van Alst Jr.

Never Whistle at Night cover edited by Shane Hawk and Theodore C. Van Alst Jr. A nighttime landscape including brightly colored plants with eyeballs, snakes, frogs, moths, and other insects.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSHOP.ORG

SYNOPSIS:

In many Indigenous cultures, there is a legend that whistling at nighttime will summon evil spirits. The specific lore behind this belief varies: while the Native Mexicans say that whistling at night attracts a witch with the power to transform into an owl, also known as Lechuza, the Native Hawaiians believe it calls forth the spirits of ancient warriors called the Hukai’po. This anthology delivers a collection of 26 spine-tingling tales about ghosts, monsters, family trauma, and more that will have you thinking twice before whistling at night.

WHY:

This collection of dark and unsettling tales explores a variety of Indigenous beliefs, traditions, and characters. Each story comes from a prolific Native American writer, including Cherie Dimaline, Nick Medina, and Kelli Jo Ford, among others. Never Whistle at Night is a fantastic introduction to a host of talented authors, all of whom deliver a terrifying short story that will have you both enraptured and utterly frightened. This anthology is an absolute must-read!

DARK HORSE

The Lost Journals of Sacajewea by Debra Magpie Earling

The Lost Journals of Sacajewea cover by Debra Magpie Earling. A black bear standing next to the mutilated carcass of an animal.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSHOP.ORG

SYNOPSIS:

A well-remembered figure in American history, Sacajewea was a guide and interpreter for the Corps of Discovery, led by Lewis and Clark. This novel sees Sacajewea brought to life in her most honest form yet. The book details Sacajewea’s life, from her upbringing among the Lemhi Shoshone to the raiding of her village that led to her being kidnapped and sold to a French-Canadian fur trapper, all the way through her perilous journey across dangerous terrain with her newborn son alongside Lewis and Clark’s expedition party.

WHY:

The Lost Journals of Sacajewea sheds light on the harsh reality of one of the most mythologized figures in American history. In this devastating and poetic reclamation of Sacajewea’s story, Debra Magpie Earling reveals how Sacajewea was able to persevere in the face of physical and sexual violence suffered under the hands of white men. Profoundly beautiful and moving, this is Sacajewea’s story as it’s never been told before.


For more Three to Read recommendations, check back here every Tuesday, and for more stories from Native American authors, click here.

Browse these books and more reads handpicked by the Bookstr team on the Three to Read bookshelf on Bookshop.org.