Tribal Sovereignty in Focus Back-to-School Reading List

Back-to-school recommended reads from the Harvard Project on Indigenous Governance and Development include books, articles, and podcasts that highlight Indigenous governance narratives.


A collage of book covers

Looking to the start of the school year, the Ash Center invites you to explore a reading list curated by the Project on Indigenous Governance and Development featuring compelling articles, books, and podcasts. From investigative journalism pieces to stories of the fight for self-determination, this list was created for students and lifelong learners who want to gain a better understanding of Indigenous governance throughout history and into the present day. 

Article Series

Waiting for Water,” High Country News

This five-part package from High Country News and ProPublica takes readers to the frontlines of the Colorado River Basin tribes’ fight for water rights they were guaranteed over a century ago:


Carbon Sovereignty: Coal, Development, and Energy Transition in the Navajo Nation,” by Andrew Curley

In his book, Curley looks at the Navajo Nation’s complex relationship with the coal industry and how the transition away from coal impacts the Nation’s political and economic state.

Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory,” by Claudio Saunt

Saunt details the harrowing history of “Indian Removal” and the forced displacement of tribes from their land to territory across the Mississippi River.

Thinking in Indian: A John Mohawk Reader,” edited by Jose Barreiro

This collection of essays looks at issues of sovereignty, land rights, globalization, and many more, from a traditional yet modern understanding of the Native experience.

Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe,” by David Maraniss

In a biography of Jim Thorpe, a member of the Sac and Fox Nation, Maraniss juxtaposes Thorpe’s major athletic accomplishments with a struggle against the odds. Throughout his life, Thorpe dealt with racism, financial hardship, and tumultuous relationships, surviving it all.

Our Beloved Kin: A new history of King Philip’s War,” by Lisa Brooks

Brooks’s historical recount of the “First Indian War” details the stories of key players in the battle — like Weetamoo, a female Wampanoag leader, and James Printer, a Nipmuc scholar — to introduce readers to a new story of colonial New England and the origins of America.

The Great Vanishing Act: Blood Quantum and the Future of Native Nations,” by Norbert S. Hill Jr. and Kathleen Ratteree

The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and the present-day conceptualizations and effects of it are brought to life in essays, personal stories, case studies, and satire.

The Grass Dancer,” by Mona Susan Power

Set in North Dakota, Susan Power draws on her Sioux roots to bring to life a dramatic tale full of conflict, love, and magic.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” by David Grann

When members of the Osage Nation — the richest people per capita in the world in the 1920s — are murdered, an FBI team goes undercover to work with the Osage and uncover a dark conspiracy.

The State of the Native Nations: Conditions Under U.S. Policies of Self-Determination,” by Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development

Written by Harvard Kennedy School Indigenous Governance and Development Project experts, this book showcases the true reality of modern-day Indigenous nations throughout the U.S. The book details contemporary challenges faced by tribes under current federal policies and how tribes continue to chart a path forward toward self-determination.


This Land,” Rebecca Nagle

In this podcast, host Rebecca Nagle explores a tactic used by political actors to pit Indigenous children against Native Nations.

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