10 Books To Read This National Indigenous Peoples Day

Educate and Celebrate Indigenous Experiences on National Indigenous Peoples Day

National Indigenous Peoples Day is on June 21 and it is so important to shine a light on the inspiring authors, narrators and stories that celebrate the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of Indigenous people. Wondering which stories to add to your list? We have you covered. From Bev Sellars’ memoirs of her years at St. Joseph’s Mission, They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School, to Richard Wagamese’s heartbreaking novel, Indian Horse, and Kendal Netmaker’s inspirational and incredible story, Driven to Succeed: From Poverty to Podium, Audible has a number of productions that celebrate and educate on indigenous experiences. Take a look at our list below!

  1. Indian Horse

Written by: Richard Wagamese

Narrated by: Jason Ryll

“After being taken forcibly from his family, Saul is placed in an abusive boarding school determined to expunge his Ojibway traditions and knowledge. But he finds salvation each morning at dawn, practicing hockey alone on the school’s makeshift ice rink. Saul’s gift is undeniable: He quickly rises from his school’s all-Ojibway team to the white-dominated regional circuit. As his skills improve and he gains notoriety, however, each of his victories on the ice is met by racism and hate. As the years pass, Saul must reconcile his passion – the game he loves, that allowed him to escape poverty – with the harshness of a world that will never make him entirely welcome.”

Length: 6 hrs and 51 mins

2.             Split Tooth

Written by: Tanya Tagaq

Narrated by: Tanya Tagaq

“A girl grows up in Nunavut in the 1970s. She knows joy and friendship and parents’ love. She knows boredom and listlessness and bullying. She knows the tedium of the everyday world and the raw, amoral power of the ice and sky, the seductive energy of the animal world. She knows the ravages of alcohol and violence at the hands of those she should be able to trust. She sees the spirits that surround her and the immense power that dwarfs all of us. When she becomes pregnant, she must navigate all this. Veering back and forth between the grittiest features of a small arctic town, the electrifying proximity of the world of animals and ravishing world of myth, Tanya Tagaq explores a world where the distinctions between good and evil, animal and human, victim and transgressor, real and imagined lose their meaning, but the guiding power of love remains.”

Length: 5 hrs and 31 mins

3.             Moon of the Crusted Snow

Written by: Waubgeshig Rice

Narrated by: Billy Merasty

“With winter looming, a small northern Anishinaabe community goes dark. Cut off, people become passive and confused. Panic builds as the food supply dwindles. While the band council and a pocket of community members struggle to maintain order, an unexpected visitor arrives, escaping the crumbling society to the south. Soon after, others follow. The community leadership loses its grip on power as the visitors manipulate the tired and hungry to take control of the reserve. Tensions rise and, as the months pass, so does the death toll due to sickness and despair. Frustrated by the building chaos, a group of young friends and their families turn to the land and Anishinaabe tradition in hopes of helping their community thrive again. Guided through the chaos by an unlikely leader named Evan Whitesky, they endeavor to restore order while grappling with a grave decision.”

Length: 6 hrs and 46 mins

4.             Starlight

Written by: Richard Wagamese

Narrated by: Wesley French

“Frank Starlight has long settled into a quiet life working his remote farm, but his contemplative existence comes to an abrupt end with the arrival of Emmy, who has committed a desperate act so she and her child can escape a harrowing life of violence. Starlight takes in Emmy and her daughter to help them get back on their feet, and this accidental family eventually grows into a real one. But Emmy’s abusive ex isn’t content to just let her go. He wants revenge and is determined to hunt her down.”

Length: 6 hrs and 28 mins

5.             The Break

Written by: Katherena Vermette

Narrated by: Michaela Washburn

“When Stella, a young Métis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break – a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house – she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime.

In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim – police, family, and friends – tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a Métis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg’s North End is exposed.”

Length: 11 hrs and 21 mins

6.             A Mind Spread Out on the Ground

Written by: Alicia Elliott

Narrated by: Alicia Elliott

“What are the links between depression, colonialism and loss of language – both figurative and literal? How does white privilege operate in different contexts? How do we navigate the painful contours of mental illness in loved ones without turning them into their sickness? How does colonialism operate on the level of literary criticism?

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is Alicia Elliott’s attempt to answer these questions and more. In the process, she engages with such wide-ranging topics as race, parenthood, love, mental illness, poverty, sexual assault, gentrification, writing, and representation. Elliott makes connections both large and small between the past and present, the personal and political – from overcoming a years-long history with head lice to the way Native writers are treated within the Canadian literary industry; her unplanned teenage pregnancy to the history of dark matter and how it relates to racism in the court system; her childhood diet of Kraft dinner to how systematic oppression is linked to depression in Native communities. With deep consideration and searing prose, Elliott extends far beyond her own experiences to provide a candid look at our past, an illuminating portrait of our present, and a powerful tool for a better future.”

Length: 6 hrs and 36 mins

7.             They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School

Written by: Bev Sellars

Narrated by: Bev Sellars

“In this frank and poignant memoir of her years at St. Joseph’s Mission, Sellars breaks her silence about the residential school’s lasting effects on her and her family – from substance abuse to suicide attempts – and eloquently articulates her own path to healing. They Called Me Number One comes at a time of recognition – by governments and society at large – that only through knowing the truth about these past injustices can we begin to redress them.”

Length: 7 hrs and 17 mins

8.             The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America

Written by: Thomas King

Narrated by: Lorne Cardinal

The Inconvenient Indian is at once a “history” and the complete subversion of a history – in short, a critical and personal meditation that the remarkable Thomas King has conducted over the past 50 years about what it means to be “Indian” in North America. Rich with dark and light, pain and magic, this book distills the insights gleaned from that meditation, weaving the curiously circular tale of the relationship between non-Natives and Natives in the centuries since the two first encountered each other. In the process, King refashions old stories about historical events and figures, takes a sideways look at film and pop culture, relates his own complex experiences with activism, and articulates a deep and revolutionary understanding of the cumulative effects of ever-shifting laws and treaties on Native peoples and lands.”

Length: 9 hrs and 56 mins

9.             Seven Fallen Feathers

Written by: Tanya Talaga

Narrated by: Michaela Washburn

“In 1966, 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack froze to death on the railway tracks after running away from residential school. An inquest was called, and four recommendations were made to prevent another tragedy. None of those recommendations were applied. More than a quarter of a century later, from 2000 to 2011, seven Indigenous high school students died in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The seven were hundreds of miles away from their families, forced to leave home and live in a foreign and unwelcoming city. Five were found dead in the rivers surrounding Lake Superior, below a sacred Indigenous site. Jordan Wabasse, a gentle boy and star hockey player, disappeared into the -20 degrees Celsius night. The body of celebrated artist Norval Morrisseau’s grandson, Kyle, was pulled from a river, as was Curran Strang’s. Robyn Harper died in her boardinghouse hallway, and Paul Panacheese inexplicably collapsed on his kitchen floor. Reggie Bushie’s death finally prompted an inquest, seven years after the discovery of Jethro Anderson, the first boy whose body was found in the water.”

Length: 9 hrs and 7 mins

10.          Driven to Succeed: From Poverty to Podium

Written by: Kendal Netmaker

Narrated by: Kendal Netmaker

“Driven to Succeed is an incredible story of success from one of the most unlikely places on the planet. The story develops on a First Nation reservation, in northern Canada. The child of a single mom of four, living on welfare, was forever changed through a simple act of service. Never has a detailed story been told of life on the rez, set in a backdrop where diabetes and alcoholism are common. You will be inspired as you witness how one child chose to rise above his circumstances to achieve extraordinary success through the power of the mind. It is a masterpiece of success, teaching you how to reshape your circumstances to accomplish dreams you never thought possible. Kendal’s simple five-step strategy will prepare you for amazing outcomes.

The five steps to succeed include:

  • Making a simple choice.
  • Planning, preparing, and expecting to win.
  • Using the power of your story.
  • Turning your pain into gain.
  • Elevating your circle of influence.

This detailed story, utilizing the five-step strategy, will inspire you to do great things with your life – a life story you’ll want to listen to to shape your destiny.”

Length: 2 hrs and 39 mins