10 books on Healing & Resilience by Indigenous Authors

As mental health research and resources diversify over the recent decades, a call is made for “evidenced-based, culturally relevant health practices that emerge from a constructionist framework rooted in Indigenous psychologies”. Existing mental health resources and literature have often focused on non-Indigenous knowledge systems which have been known to further traumatise the already alienated and marginalised indigenous communities. In a world where language plays a vital role in access to knowledge systems, it becomes incredibly important to highlight experiences of healing and resilience as experienced by the indigenous community. 

The world observed the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on the 9th of August. To commemorate the day, we curated a list of books written by Indigenous authors on healing and resilience. These books challenge readers to critically consider and rethink their assumptions about Indigenous literature, history, and wellbeing. Fiction, nonfiction, history, poetry, memoir, and more – these books from around the world are representative of diverse views and perceptions around well-being prevalent among various indigenous communities. 

1. Angor by Jacinta Kerketta

About the book: “Various Adivasi dialects in Chotanagpur use Angor for the Hindi Angar in the sense of ember. Angar in literary discourse is figuratively associated with protest or revolution, while in the Adivasi context it signifies the spark of resistance to oppression and exploitation. A common practice in Adivasi neighbourhood is women sharing embers to ignite their household ovens. Such a practice symbolically underlines their unity in trying conditions.” – Leftword

2. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa

About the book: “Rooted in Gloria Anzaldúa’s experience as a Chicana, a lesbian, an activist, and a writer, the essays and poems in this volume profoundly challenged, and continue to challenge, how we think about identity. Borderlands/La Frontera remaps our understanding of what a “border” is, presenting it not as a simple divide between here and there, us and them, but as a psychic, social, and cultural terrain that we inhabit, and that inhabits all of us.” – Aunt Lute Books

3. Broken Circle: The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools by Theodore Niizhotay Fontaine

About the book: “Broken Circle: The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools chronicles the impact of Theodore Fontaine’s harrowing experiences at Fort Alexander and Assiniboia Indian Residential Schools, including psychological, emotional, and sexual abuse; disconnection from his language and culture; and the loss of his family and community. Told as remembrances infused with insights gained through his long healing process, Fontaine goes beyond the details of the abuse that he suffered to relate a unique understanding of why most residential school survivors have post-traumatic stress disorders and why succeeding generations of Indigenous children suffer from this dark chapter in history.” – Heritage House 

4. Legacy: Trauma, Story, and Indigenous Healing by Suzanne Methot

About the book: “Five hundred years of colonization have taken an incalculable toll on the Indigenous peoples of the Americas: substance use disorders and shockingly high rates of depression, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions brought on by genocide and colonial control. With passionate logic and chillingly clear prose, author and educator Suzanne Methot uses history, human development, and her own and others’ stories to trace the roots of Indigenous cultural dislocation and community breakdown in an original and provocative examination of the long-term effects of colonization.” – ECW Press

5. Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman

About the book: “The Natives of the Colony are restless. The Settlers are eager to bring peace to their new home, and they have a plan for how to achieve it. They will tear Native families apart and provide re-education to those who do not understand why they should submit to their betters. Peace and prosperity are worth any price, but who will pay it? This rich land, Australia, will provide for all if only the Natives can learn their place. Jacky has escaped the Home where the Settlers sent him, but where will he go? The Head of the Department for the Protection of Natives, known to Settlers and Natives alike as the Devil, is chasing Jacky. And when the Devil catches him, Sister Bagra, who knows her duty to the ungodly, will be waiting for Jacky back at Home.” – Small Beer Press

6. The Adivasi Will Not Dance: Stories  By Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar

About the book: “In this collection of stories, set in the fecund, mineral-rich hinterland and the ever-expanding, squalid towns of Jharkhand, Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar breathes life into a set of characters who are as robustly flesh and blood as the soil from which they spring, where they live, and into which they must sometimes bleed.” – Speaking Tiger

7. The Legends Of Pensam by Mamang Dai

About the book: “The Legends of Pensam by the noted former civil servant, journalist and poet, Mamang Dai, is a delightful blend of myth and history of the tribe of Adis of Siang valley that spans Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet. A raconteur par excellence, Mamang brings her personal knowledge of the primitive customs and beliefs of her people to recount the many legends that influence the lives of Adis.” – The Indian Short Story 

8. The Many That I Am: Writings From Nagaland by Anungla Zoe Longkumer

About the book: “Filmmaker and writer Anungla Zoe Longkumer brings together here, for the first time, a remarkable set of stories, poems, first-person narratives and visuals that reflect the many facets of women’s writing in Nagaland.” – Zubaan

9. The Worlds of a Masaai Warrior by Tepilit Ole Saitoti

About the book: “An autobiographical memoir revealing the traditional childhood, adolescence, and coming of age in Maasailond also documents the author’s life on the plains of the Serengeti and his education and experiences as he journeyed to Europe and America.” – UC Press

10. The Yield by Tara June Winch

About the book: “Told in three masterfully woven narratives, The Yield is a celebration of language and an exploration of what makes a place “home.” A story of a people and a culture dispossessed, it is also a joyful reminder of what once was and what endures—a powerful reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling, and identity, that offers hope for the future.” HarperCollins

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