Novels, short stories and poetry by Indigenous authors (Native American, Maori, Sami)

These last months I have been reading novels and poems by Indigenous authors. These are my favourite ones that I recommend teachers and other interested people to check out.

There is only one book from Australia on the list at the moment, This isn’t because there aren’t many great books, but because I haven’t got round to reading the books from Australia yet. I have several for primary school on my list. The page will be updated when I have read them!

Noen av bøkene er av samiske forfattere og er på norsk.

Primary age/Barneskole

Spirit of the Cedar People (Chief Lelooska)

One of several books of stories told by Chief Lelooska about the people of North West America. Beautifully illustrated and comes with a CD.

Samer (Sigbjørn Skåden)

Fra Leseløve-serien. En fin faktabok om samer for barn. Dekker historie og kultur. Mest om nordsamer, men også noe om samer i andre deler av Norge.

Staloer tror at månen er et bål: 25 sør-samiske eventyr (gjenfortalt av Kirsti Birkeland)

Tjuefem gode eventyr. Dessverre er det ikke mulig å kjøpe denne boken lenger, men det finnes på Nasjonalbibliotekets online bokhylla:

Stallo og nordlysets sønn (Anstein Mikkelsen)

Barnebok med spennende fortelling og flotte illustrasjoner. Kan bestilles på bibliotek:

Secondary age/ ungdomsskole og  videregående skole

One Good Story, That One (Thomas King)

This is currently my favourite collection of short stories. The stories take up different themes from contemporary Native American life, and include elements from oral and traditional storytelling. They can also be used to teach pupils about different narrative techniques. The short stories are each around ten pages long.

Waiariki (Patricia Grace)

This is a selection of short stories about Maori. Personally, I don’t think all the short stories are suitable or interesting for working with in class, but a few of them could be good to use, especially together with some of the stories in the Thomas King book above. There is also a good glossary of Maori words at the back of the book.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian (Sherman Alexie)

This is the story of a boy growing up on the Spokane reservation and going to school in the local all-white high school. It takes up a lot of serious themes in an approachable way for teens. The book also contains comic illustrations that can be used for discussion in class. This book is widely used in schools, and there are a lot of ready made resources online.

Ihpil – de fortapte barns frelser (Sigbjørn Skåden)

The blog follows a young Sami lesbian girl in her first term at Tromsø university. It discusses identity and the challenges of finding a place between different cultures. It covers themes that are highly relevant for pupils in their final years of secondary education. Written in North Sami and translated into Norwegian. Out of print, but it should be possible to order up at a library:

Mor gråt over mine skjørt (Inga Ravna Eira)

This is a selection of poems in Norwegian by Inga Ravna Eira, who has been nominated for the 2019 Nordic Council Literature Prize. Poems about growing up in a Sami and Norwegian society. More information in the link:


Nils Rune Utsi is a Sami rap artist from Masi in Finnmark. You can find some of his lyrics on his website (still being updated). He sings in North Sami, Norwegian and English. These lyrics can be a good way in to discussion of modern Sami identity, and also a way of working with short extracts of the North Sami language. You can also find videos of him on YouTube.

Skjermbilde 2019-09-22 kl. 14.53.16

(Bilde fra nettsiden:

Older Teen/ Adult

There, There (Tommy Orange)

A story of urban Native Americans in Oakland. Covers issues with addiction, divided families and violence within a modern setting, leading up to the Oakland Powwow.

Potiki (Patrica Grace)

About the conflict between Maori and settler ways of life. A good insight into conflict over land rights and abuses of power.

The Tall Man: Death and Life on Palm Island (Chloe Hooper)

About the death of an Aboriginal man, Cameron Doomadgee, in custody. A book that brings the reader face to face with the harsh realities of life for many Aboriginal people in Australia.

Våke over dem som sover (Sigbjørn Skåden)

Om en ung samisk kunstner som reiser til Kautokeino for å gjøre ferdig en kunstprosjekt. En mørk bok om makt, misbruk og seksualitet.