Top Ten American Indian Novels

Popular novels that portray American Indian life and heritage

by Liz Olson

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon

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Check out our list of popular novels that portray American Indian life and heritage. There is something for everyone in these stories of tradition, love, family, friendship, heartbreak, and death.

Leslie Marmon
Ceremony tells the story of Tayo, a mixed-blood veteran returning to his reservation from fighting in World War II. Marmon celebrates the tradition of storytelling in Native American culture, and delivers a message of healing and reconciliation between races and people.
Sherman Alexie
Flight is a comic and tragic contemporary novel steeped in American history about a Native American boy who travels back and forth through time in search for his true identity.
From the River’s Edge
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn
Set in the Northern Plains and based on an actual trial concerning stolen cattle, Cook-Lynn artfully depicts the sorrows and frustrations experienced by Native Americans in this spare and poignant novel.
House Made of Dawn
N. Scott Momaday
A Pulitzer prize-winning novel that richly describes Native American life from the author’s first-hand knowledge, House Made of Dawn chronicles the life of a young Native American boy, Abel, and his struggles with reservation life after World War II.
Love Medicine
Louise Erdrich
Erdrich writes with wit and tenderness about the lives and relationships of seven characters from two families, realistically portraying Native American life and the cultural connection of individuals.
Helen Hunt Jackson
Ramona is a love story between a young orphan girl and Native American boy that depicts the tragedy of prejudice. Jackson’s romantic novel is largely based on fact and reveals the condition of Native American life in 19th-century California.
Reservation Blues
Sherman Alexie
A journey from reservation bars to small-town taverns, from the cement trails of Seattle to the concrete canyons of Manhattan. Reservation Blues is a comic tale of power, tragedy, and redemption among contemporary Native Americans.
Solar Storms
Linda Hogan
Solar Storms is a coming-of-age story about Angela, a troubled 17-year-old girl who returns to her Native American family’s homeland. Hogan beautifully describes the land as Angela discovers herself and her heritage.
The Painted Drum
Louise Erdrich
Erdrich incorporates beautiful imagery and detailed prose in her story of the multi-generational history surrounding a drum. Intertwining three stories, The Painted Drum investigates the connection between the living and the dead.
Winter in the Blood
James Welch
Welch chronicles a few days in the life of a Native American man living on a reservation in Montana, giving an authentic portrayal of Native American life in 20th-century America.
Did you know?
In the 2010 census, the average family size was 3.14.


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